The nonprofit Guarneri Hall, a custom-built classical music venue in the heart of downtown Chicago at 11 E. Adams St. launches its 5th Anniversary Season on Wednesday, August 30 at 6:30 pm with a raucous evening of fun that celebrates the relationship between classical chamber music and various dance music stylings.
Showcasing a lively program of works certain to get audiences moving in their seats, A Night at the Disco!—is part of NEXUS Chamber Music’s 6th annual chamber music festival, and features NEXUS co-artistic director’s violist Brian Hong and cellist Alexander Hersh alongside violinists Alex Gonzalez and Claire Bourg, guitarist Hao (Rachel) Yang, and pianist Winston Choi. The first in the new Guarneri Hall season focusing on creating intimate music events rooted in deeply personal experiences, A Night at the Disco! includes a post-event Q&A and reception with artists.
The program features two works for guitar and string quartet, a unique grouping of instruments not often heard together on the recital stage. The first is Luigi Boccherini’s flamenco-inspired Guitar Quintet #4. Composed near the turn of the 19th century, the quintet invokes the rhythms and melodies used in the popular dances of Boccerini’s adopted homeland, Spain. The second guitar quintet on the program is Aaron Jay Kernis’ K-Tel ad-inspired 100 Greatest Dance Hits. Written in 1993, the piece is an homage to the mundane and ubiquitous pop music that surrounds daily life. Inspired by the popular dance music from the 1970s to 1990s, the movements include “Easy Listening” and “Dance Party on the Disco Motorboat” which the composer describes as an ode to Soul Train. Rounding out the program are Amy Beach’s Piano Trio of 1938 and Eleanor Alberga’s Wild Blue Yonder.
“At NEXUS, we strive to program unexpected works with the goal of creating a unifying theme that tells a story to the audience.” said NEXUS Chamber Music Co-Artistic Director Brian Hong, “Aaron Jay Kernis’ 100 Greatest Dance Hits has been on our radar for a long while. We decided to pair it with works written from the Classical-era through present day to create a program inspired by the joy of physical movement – from Boccherini’s deliciously captivating Fandango quintet to the jazzy and rustic rhythms of Eleanor Alberga’s Wild Blue Yonder.”
A Q&A with the artists will follow the performance and allow audience members to interact directly with the musicians. The evening concludes with a reception featuring high-quality libations and hors d’oeuvres and the opportunity for audience members and performers to continue the conversation that began in the concert hall.
Building on its first five years, Guarneri Hall’s 2023-2024 season concentrates on “Chamber Music Made Personal”—creating intimate, interactive music events that center chamber music in deeply personal experiences, with programs designed as uniquely powerful communicative encounters that make the most of the intimacy and superb acoustics of the venue.
Guarneri Hall Founder and Artistic Director Stefan Hersh expands on how A Night at the Disco! embodies Guarneri Hall’s new focus: “Guarneri Hall places the audience on the same level with, and up close to the artists. The room is a highly detailed acoustic space in which the audience is an integral part of the performances. It is a perfect setting for this NEXUS program: The Kernis opens with an intricate piece of musical fabric built from unique percussive techniques assigned to each of the players. The effect can be difficult to hear in a traditional concert space, whereas every nuance will be easily audible in Guarneri Hall. Balance between guitar and strings, often a challenge in chamber music in larger spaces, is easily solved in the intimate environment of Guarneri Hall where both the Kernis and the Boccherini Guitar Quintet can be heard in natural acoustic balance. The nature of the NEXUS program, and the space invites dialogue between audience and performers and this group of artists will be inspiring musical hosts for the evening.”
Performance tickets are $40 for General Admission and $10 for students. Eight tickets are available for each of the two open rehearsals, priced at $5. Performance and rehearsal tickets are available at guarnerilhall.org