The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company takes on the most dramatic and complex work of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon

Topsy-turvy plot twists, a trio of reluctant marriages, and a haunting score regarded by many as Sullivan’s finest work.

CHICAGO, Hyde Park – The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company will perform The Yeomen of the Guard, or, The Merryman and his Maid at the University of Chicago’s Mandel Hall on March 13—15.

Set in the Tower of London during the reign of King Henry VIII, The Yeomen of the Guard tells the story of the war hero Colonel Fairfax, unjustly imprisoned and condemned to death for sorcery, and the plot hatched by his old friend Sergeant Meryll and his daughter, Phoebe, to free the colonel from his cell in the Tower by disguising him as one of the guardians of the Tower itself: the famous Yeomen of the Guard. Complicating matters further is the arrival of the traveling jester Jack Point, accompanied by his musical partner and wife-to-be, Elsie Maynard, who finds herself in a position to benefit greatly by Fairfax’s execution.

“Anyone familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan dreams of working on Yeomen,” says newcomer Shane Valenzi, making his Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company debut. “It’s the richest, most complex, and most difficult operetta of the entire canon. With great risk comes great reward, however: with laughter and tears in equal measure, experiencing a truly great performance of Yeomen—which this production promises to be—stirs the sort of transcendent emotions that audiences remember long after the actors take their final bows.”

Joining Valenzi is music director Matthew Sheppard, newly appointed Director of the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra. The talented cast includes some of the Company’s favorites from past productions as well as several outstanding newcomers. Nancy Levner will produce, aided by associate producers Trip Driscoll and Cal Audrain.

Performances take place at Mandel Hall, 1131 East 57th Street, from March 13 through 15. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets can be ordered online at, or by calling the Logan Box Office at 773.702.ARTS (2787).

The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, Inc. is a non-profit, community arts and education organization dedicated to performing the works of Gilbert & Sullivan to the highest artistic standards. It has been a mainstay of Chicago’s Hyde Park cultural scene since it was founded in 1960 by three local G&S fans: Nancy Lorie, Robert Ashenhurst, and Roland Bailey.

2015 marks the 31st consecutive year the proceeds from the annual production will benefit the Department of Music’s performance program, whose fifteen ensembles and programs present more than a hundred varied concerts each year.

Relax with Rachmaninoff

Dear Music Lovers,

Join us for Khachaturian’s exhilarating Violin Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s lushly romantic Symphony No. 2 this Saturday evening, as the 100-member University Symphony Orchestra and violin soloist George Hyun present an unforgettable evening of Russian music.

Filled will gorgeous, seemingly endless melodies and boasting rich, opulent orchestral textures throughout, Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony offers the perfect blend of passion and serenity, rapture and triumph.

Soloist George Hyun — a 4th year student in the College, and one of the First Place Winners of the 2014 Concerto Competition — is doing a spectacular job with the very demanding Khachaturian Concerto.

I do hope you can join us for this very special concert!

Yours in music,
— Barbara Schubert,
USO Music Director and Conductor


Piano Powerhouses

Svetlana Belsky, UChicago Director of the Piano Program, shares another great success:  “Elaine Yao (pictured below) and Kyler Shin won 1st and 3rd place, respectively, at the Illinois State Music Teachers Association at Milliken University in Decatur, Illinois.  Sarah Prescott and Giuliana Vaccarino Gearty also presented great programs.  The fact that our pianists are able to compete so successfully against conservatory students and performance majors speaks highly not only of their talent, but also of dedication and hard work.  I could not be more proud of all of them!!!”

Congratulations, performers!


Decoding CLASSIFIED Files

This Saturday evening, mysterious figures will descend upon Mandel Hall for the University Symphony Orchestra Halloween concerts. Kids and their parents, UChicago students, faculty, and staff, and even the orchestra will dress festively. USO director and conductor Barbara Schubert, also in costume, will make her customary grand entrance, which is always kept secret right up until the first performance. The secrecy is apt.


This concert is Kid Rock approved!

Each year, Maestra Schubert designs the Halloween concerts around a specific whimsical and different theme, including “Dangerous Women,” “Witches of Yore,” and “Arabian Nights,” among many others. Whodunit is the mysterious theme of this year’s “CLASSIFIED” concert that will include interactive elements provided by the Hyde Park School of Dance and surprise guests. Cleverly titled, the purpose of the concert is the music! Saturday’s program will include classical repertoire alongside popular music arranged for symphonies. This year’s pop selections are from spy, thriller, and adventure films including Indiana Jones (which I’m personally very excited about), Psycho, James Bond, and others.

The program’s classical selection is Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, a suite of fourteen movements each titled with initials—except for the thirteenth, labeled “***.” There are two main enigmas, or mysteries, connected to the Variations composition. The first enigma pertains to the titular names of Elgar’s friends, which is a solved mystery. The second enigma is musical, and involves the assumed existence of a motif that runs counterpoint throughout the entire suite. This theme may not actually exist; it still remains a puzzle today.


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice expresses his feelings about this unsolved mystery.

Programming these pieces together seems odd, at first. The genres derive from different worlds, however, the music ties into the overall “whodunit” concert theme. Thinking about the repertoire, I realize that the selections have more in common than they seem; they are all about mysterious people. Just like signatures, theme songs identify a person, and in this case, a movie or a specific character. For example, Raiders of the Lost Ark = Indiana Jones, James Bond = James Bond, and Psycho = Norman Bates … or that shower scene! Elgar’s Enigma Variations may also indirectly identify personal characteristics of its subjects, but there’s room for confusion, which adds to the mystery. Perhaps Elgar acknowledged his friends through specific musical phrases and only he knew who was associated with which motif. The composer allows us to come up with our own ideas about his friends and uncover their mysteries, so to speak, similar to movie soundtracks without visual aids.


Crowds pack Mandel Hall for this annual event.

This will be my first Halloween concert. I’m excited to “solve the mysteries” of the Variations and to solve the mystery of how I can enjoy them in a new way. I’ve played parts of the piece before on my cello, but this time I’ll get to sit back and think about each movement as a distinct theme song. I’m sure that Elgar’s Enigma Variations will appeal to those who love and appreciate classical music while the movie selections may appeal to people who may not listen specifically to symphonic music regularly. The beauty of the Halloween concert is featuring both styles together on the same program.

The annual USO Halloween concerts are also the perfect opportunity for those interested in music—or anyone interested in dressing up and having fun—to be exposed to new sights and sounds, or to hear music they already know in a different way.


“Let loose, have a good time, and enjoy the music!” — Love, Two-eyed Wilhelmina and Steff, the Devil

The concerts will be this Saturday, October 25, in Mandel Hall at 7 PM and 9 PM. I expect it to be marvelous. My costume is also in progress. I’m thinking of going as a zombie bear.

Co-written by Phoebe Salzman-Cohen, an intern at the Department of Music and a fourth-year in the College, majoring in comparative literature.

Chamber Music Intensive Press Release

CMI_Banner_ImageUniversity of Chicago Department of Music and Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts Announce Chamber Music Intensive Debut

Spektral Quartet, Ensemble-in-Residence at UChicago, will lead four-day experiential workshop

Chicago, Hyde Park – The Spektral Quartet announces a four-day workshop with Steinway artist Amy Briggs, Artist-in-Residence at UChicago, and a masterclass with world-renowned violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi of the Vermeer Quartet. Chamber Music Intensive participants will receive four days of coaching in a supportive and inspiring environment, culminating in a concert in the stunning Performance Penthouse at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. The new workshop runs July 17-20, 2014. Following in the footsteps of national summer music programs, the UChicago Chamber Music Intensive presents coachings, a guest lecture, masterclasses, and more.

Chamber Music Intensive musicians will garner greater confidence on stage, invaluable rehearsal techniques, and a deeper understanding of some of the greatest repertoire in classical music. “We’ve paired together University students and alumni with long-time chamber music enthusiasts for four days of musical work and exploration,” said Russell Rolen, member of the Spektral Quartet, “and we are excited to see what they can do in a short time.”

Twenty-one musicians have been selected to participate in the 2014 Chamber Music Intensive, which includes four free events that are open to the public and take place in the Performance Penthouse at the Logan Center for the Arts.

Opening Night: Meet & Greet (Thursday, July 17 at 6:30 PM) – The exciting weekend kicks off with a performance of Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 132 by the Spektral Quartet in the Performance Penthouse at the Logan Center for the Arts. Admission is free. A light reception will follow.

Andrew Patner: Musical Musings (Friday, July 18 at 2:00 PM) – Chicago-based author, broadcaster, journalist, and arts critic shares wisdom and insight about the business side of artistry.

Masterclass: Afternoon with a master (Saturday, July 19 at 1:00 PM) – As first violinist of the famed Vermeer Quartet throughout its 40-year history, Shmuel Ashkenasi gained a reputation as one of the world’s outstanding chamber musicians. He has performed with such American orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Atlanta Symphony, as well as the orchestras of Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Zurich, Rotterdam, Geneva, and Stockholm, and the Royal Philharmonic.

Final Performance: Chamber Music Intensive Concert (Sunday, July 20 at 3:00 PM) – The culminating event provides ample reason to celebrate! Join performers, faculty, and guests for the joyous chamber music showcase, followed by a reception.

For full schedule, faculty biographies, and additional information, please visit

No registration required to attend the four free events.



Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Performance Penthouse, 9th floor,
915 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637



Rashida Black, Director of Public Relations
University of Chicago, Department of Music
773.702.3427, rashida[at]uchicago[dot]edu