From The Heart Concert Review – A Romantic Musical Valentine’s Date Night

If you were unable to attend the Music Institute of Chicago’s From the Heart Valentine’s Day concert on Saturday, February 15th, 2020, then you missed a very rare treat! It was a beautiful, musical tribute to love and romance, which warmed the audience’s hearts on a cold, winter’s evening. 

Ron and Ann Surace

It was a perfect “date night” of a concert that featured members of the Music Institute’s internationally renowned faculty, which took place at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, in Evanston, Illinois. Concertgoers were also able to enjoy delicious champagne and chocolates, which were served during the concert’s intermission. 

Soo Young Lee

The musical program featured a lovely variety of jazz and classical works including piano, violin, marimba, guitar and much more. Program numbers were as follows:

  • Brahms’ Waltzes Op. 39, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 15
  • Schubert’s Sonatina, Op. 137, No. 2
  • Kreisler’s Liebeslied and Liebesfreud
  • Rachmaninoff’s Variation XVIII from Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini
  • Piazzolla’s “Romantico” from Cinco Piezas Para Guitarra
  • Albeniz’s “Granada” from Suite Espanola
  • Mangore’s Una Limosna Por El Amor De Dios
  • Clara Schumann’s Three Romances for Violin and Piano, Op. 22
  • Schumann/Liszt’s Widmung
  • Schumann/Liszt’s Standchen
  • Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del Petrarca from Années de pèlerinage
  • Gershwin’s An American in Paris/medley from Porgy and Bess
  • Waxman’s 1930 film Young in Heart (excerpts)
  • Hanson’s Serenade
  • Ron Surace’s “Sky Blue”
  • Pianist Fred Simon and electric guitarist David Onderdonk performing original works and Valentine’s Day standards
  • Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

Music Institute faculty performers included pianists Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem (duo pianists in residence), Daniel Baer, Elaine Felder, Soo Young Lee, Katherine Petersen, Fred Simon, Ann Surace and Ron Surace (duo), and Reiko Yamada; violinists Charlene Kluegel, Sarah Plum, and Addison Teng; percussionist Josh Graham (on marimba); flutist Maria Schwartz; and guitarists Brad Conroy and David Onderdonk.

David Onderdonk

The concert overall was an intimate and amazing experience. I brought my boyfriend along and we enjoyed the romantic, musical evening of classics, as well as newly composed pieces by Music Institute faculty performers. It truly was a treat to hear and see so many outstanding and internationally-renowned musicians play together on one stage. My boyfriend said that they were some of the best musical performers he has ever heard. My favorites included the multiple musical pieces by Liszt and Schubert, including Schubert’s wife, Clara, who was an extremely gifted and talented composer in her own right. I especially loved the Gershwin medley of Porgy and Bess’ Summertime and A Woman is a Sometime Thing and An American in Paris, Serenade for Flute and Piano, Op. 35 (which sounded like a fairy tale from Maria Schwartz’s amazing flute playing skills), My Funny Valentine and Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.  

Maria Schwartz

There were also several impressive instrumental numbers I had never seen before such as the marimba solo, which was magical. It is a very versatile instrument and featured a warm, acoustic glowing sound and musical notes. It was, indeed, rare to see instruments played with such precision, control and respect for the arts.

Fred Simon

From the Heart was truly among the most wonderful musical experiences I have encountered. I hope the Music Institute of Chicago offers a similar musical tribute to Valentine’s Day for years to come, as it would be a shame if this amazing music is not shared with the world for future generations.

Photos: Courtesy of Music Institute of Chicago

For future performances and events at the Music Institute of Chicago, or to get tickets, please visit the website, or call 847-448-8326.

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