By Nancy J. Thorner, cellist in the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra.

Sponsored post by Lake Forest High School Musicians and Lake Forest Civic Orchestra

From left, Ron Arden, Conductor and Music Director of the Lake Forest Civic Orchstra, and  Robert Bassill, Director of Orchestra & Music Theory at Lake Forest High School From left, Ron Arden, Conductor and Music Director of the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra, and Robert Bassill, Director of Orchestra & Music Theory at Lake Forest High School

The Lake Forest Civic Orchestra, Ron Arden, Conductor and Music Director, will share the podium with Robert Bassill, Director of Orchestras & Music Theory, on Sunday, March 16, 2014, 4:00 p.m., at Lake Forest High School, 1285 N. McKinley Road, Lake Forest, in the 3rd concert of its 25th Anniversary 2013-2013 Concert Season, “Community Inspiration.”

Formerly the North Suburban Symphony, the name change took place at our 25th Anniversary concert this past November, and is in keeping with the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra’s association with the community, that we are volunteers, that we believe in making a place for everyone to play, and that we are in it for the long haul.

This season’s partnership with the Lake Forest High School Band and Orchestra Departments marks the third time the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra has partnered with student musicians for a joint concert, the first time in 2010, then again in 2012.

Robert Bassill’s two string orchestras will participate — the Concert Orchestra with 41 players and the Symphony Orchestra with 35. When asked about his string students and their achievement, Mr. Bassill gave this response: “The students have so many achievements in academics and sports I wouldn’t even know where to start! We usually have the smartest kids in the school involved. For example, the principal cellist is going to Yale next year. I am fortunate to work with such talented students.”

As an orchestra calls for woodwind, brass and percussion players, Lake Forest High School Band Director, Janene Kessler, requested that band members elect to participate by joining up with Bassill’s string groups and the forty members of the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra. Brian O’Connor, as instrumental music assistant, helped both Bassill and Keesler in concert preparations.

All excellent musicians and performers in their own right, Robert Bassill will perform as a member of both the violin and the viola sections when Ron Arden is at the podium conducting. Janene Kessler will join the Horn section and Brian O’Connor the percussion during the performance of Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5.” Lake Forest Civic Orchestra conductor, Ron Arden, will assist the viola section when Robert Bassill is at the podium conducting.

The March 16th partnership concert also involves a partnership of the players from Lake Forest High School and those of the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra. Whenever possible a Lake Forest High School musician will be seated next to a Lake Forest Civic Orchestra musician. High school musicians have also been assigned important solos in deference to the more seasoned Lake Forest Civic Orchestra players.

The “Holberg Suite” by Edvard Grieg will open the program. Grieg is considered Norway’s greatest composer. He was able to capture the people, the scenery, and the moods of Norway through his music. Subtitled “Suite in olden style,” the “Holberg Suite” consists of five movement based on 18th century dances. Grieg wrote this composition to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Danish-Norwegian humanist play write Ludvig Holberg. A charming collection of dances, Basill’s “Concert” and “Symphony” string orchestras will share the stage with members of the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra string sections.

Following the “Holberg Suite,” Dimiti Shostakovich’s powerful “Symphony in D minor, Op. 47″ will be performed by Bassill’s Symphonic string orchestra, selected player’s from Kessler’s band program, and members of the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra.

Shostakovich’s “5th Symphony” reflects the times in which it was written. Composed between April and July 1937 and first performed on November 21, 1937, it was during the height of the Stalinist Terror when over half a million people were shot and another seven million dispatched to the Gulag in just over a year’s time.

The four movements of the symphony are seeped in an atmosphere of mourning for those who had lost friends and family on a massive scale. With the “5th “Symphony” Shostakovich gained back favor with the Russian government, having fallen out of favor over a controversial opera he wrote in 1937 which didn’t display the heroic classicism demanded by the government.

As listeners you will be both pleased and surprised. The caliber of the Lake Forest High School musicians is outstanding. They are a credit to both their directors, Robert Bassill and Janene Kessler.

Tickets can be purchased on the day of the concert or check out our Website: Adults, $18.00; Seniors/Students, $10.00; children under 12 admitted free with a paying adult.

The final concert of the 25th Anniversary Season of the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra, “Imagining the Next 25 Years!”, will be held in the auditorium at Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest on Sunday, May 4, at 4:00 p.m. Featured will be music by Bartok, Stravinsky,Debussy, and Williams.


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North Suburban Symphony Presents 25th Anniversary Celebration

November 11, 2013 by Leave a Comment

Rock group members:  Front Row:  Matt Berger, Guitar; Matt Erickson, Vocals; Aaron Rhoden, Keyboard. Back Row:  Michael Huhard, Drums; Art Bielski, Guitar.  Not pictured, Egon Doppenberg, Bass

Rock group members: Front Row: Matt Berger, Guitar; Matt Erickson, Vocals; Aaron Rhoden, Keyboard. Back Row: Michael Huhard, Drums; Art Bielski, Guitar. Not pictured, Egon Doppenberg, Bass

Sponsored Post: The North Suburban Symphony, based in Lake Forest at Gorton Community Center, invites the community to attend and participate in a celebration of its 25th Anniversary Season on Sunday, November 17th, at 4:00 p.m.

This is Ron Arden’s 7th season as music director and conductor of this fine community orchestra. Musicians travel from as far away as Chicago, McHenry, Morton Grove, and Wisconsin to be part of the orchestra. Two of the symphony’s youngest players are students at Lake Forest High School, Hannah Hart, principal bassist, and Niko Kyriacou, 3rd trombonist. All total, there are four student musicians who perform with the North Suburban Symphony despite their demanding school schedules.

The theme of the North Suburban Symphony 25th Anniversary Season — “Historic Past – Dynamic Future!” — was brought home, in part, at its initial concert of its 2013-2014 Concert Season on October 6th, when the NSS performed the program from its first concert in October of 1988. As firm believers in the positive role of community orchestras, it was a group of former members of the LFS who founded the North Suburban Symphony after the LFS elected to go professional. Several of its founding members are still dedicated and enthusiastic musicians of the North Suburban Symphony.

Expect to be blown away on Nov. 17th with what will be the NSS’s official celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary year. The title of the concert, “Symphonic Explosion,” is but a hint of what will occur, but it is the substance of the event that will convince both young and age that here is a concert you can’t afford to miss.

A group of seven rock musicians, including two guitarists, a keyboardist, a percussionist, a bassist and a vocalist, will be on stage to perform with the full NSS to provide an afternoon of rock classics from the 80′s. Featured will be rock tunes by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Chicago, Moody Blues, and much more. Among the selections chosen for your enjoyment are “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “California Dreaming,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Horse with no Name,” and “Long Train Running.”

The husband of the NSS’s principal bassoonist, LoriLee Bieski, plays guitar with the group, Art Bieski. The drummer, Michael Hubbard, is the vice president for a Fortune 500 technology company. Egon Doppenberg, bass, is a neurosurgeon by day. Matt Berger is a composer as weill as a Chicago guitarist. Each musician brings to the group his own unique background outside their passion for performing classic rock together.

There is no doubt that your musical appetite will be satisfied, but there is still more to enjoy on November 17th. To satisfy your basic appetite, tasting stations will be set up that are sure to please the gourmet in us all. Participating will be The Grille on Laurel, Authentico, Francesca’s Intimo, Grille No. 43, Market House, and Bent Fork. For those of you who enjoy having “bubbly” with your food, libations will be available.

A live auction will be held during the concert. When you’re not enjoying the music or the food, a silent action will offer items to bid on for your future enjoyment.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the concert for members of the North Suburban Symphony will be the unveiling of our new name, as the new name is unknown to most members. One lucky concert attendee’s ticket will be drawn and the holder will get to unveil our new name.

Due to the popularity of this concert, we encourage you to purchase tickets in advance for what really will amount to a “Symphonic Explosion.” If you wait, we cannot guarantee day-of ticket availability. Tickets are $35.00 each, but the price does grant you access to all of the afternoon’s festivities. Order tickets at our webssite: WWW.NORTHSUBSYMPHONY.ORG or call (847) 295-1035.

We hope to see you on Sunday, November 17th at Gorton Center in Lake Forest, and likewise at our two remaining concerts of our 25th Anniversary Season: “Community Inspiration” on March 16, 2014, when we will partner with orchestra students at Lake Forest High School, and on May 4, 2014 in a concert titled, “Imagining the Next 25 Years.”

Not to be missed is an extra concert, the first after the unveiling of our new name, a Holiday Concert that will be held at Gorton Center in partnership with Gorton Center and what is still known as the North Suburban Symphony on Sunday, December 22nd at 4:00 p.m.

Visit for more information.

Submitted by Nancy J. Thorner, cellist for the North Suburban Symphony


From the North Suburban Symphony:  by cellist, Nancy J. Thorner

north suburban symphony

Internationally acclaimed pianist Susan Merdinger of Highland Park to perform for North Suburban Symphony

The North Suburban Symphony, a thriving community orchestra in Lake Forest in association with the Lake Bluff Park District, will present the first concert of its 24th Concert Season on Sunday, October 7, at 4:00 p.m. at the Gorton Community Center Auditorium, at 400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest. Ron Arden, Music Director and Conductor, is beginning his sixth season with the NSS.

During the 2012 – 2013 concert season the NSS will travel around the world in a musical tour of America, Germany, Russia, and Italy. Each of these countries holds a special place in the history of music and in the hearts of all musicians on the symphonic concert stage. You will hear standard classical works alongside jazz, ballet , and opera with wonderful soloists book-ending the four stops of the orchestra’s musical tour.

It is appropriate that the first stop of our musical tour on October 7th should be in America, with a concert entitled American Spirit — A Celebration of Jazz and Symphonic Pops celebrating the genius of musical greats George Gershwin, Leroy Anderson, and Morton Gould.

Featured soloist on the program will be internationally acclaimed pianist Susan Merdinger of Highland Park, who will perform George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects. “Rhapsody in Blue” has since become one of the most popular of all American concert works since its premier in 1924 by bandleader Paul Whiteman New York city with Gershwin playing the piano. The clarinet solo at the beginning of the “Rhapsody in Blue” is sure to capture your attention as performed by principal clarinetist, Scott Schappe, who is a full time Associate Professor of Physics at Lake Forest College.

Among her many accomplishment, Ms. Merdinger is a First Prize Winner of the 2012 Bradshaw and Buono International Piano competition, and a winner of the Artists International Alumni Winners Prize and the 2011 IBLA Grand Prize Competition “Special Liszt Award. She has also performed as a collaborative pianist with principal members of the New York Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Live performances include WQXR, WFMT, Belgian National Radio, BBC Television and in major concert halls such as Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall, and the Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center and Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago. Merdinger received her formal musical education at the Yale School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the Westchester Conservatory of Music, and the Ecole Normale de Musique in Fontainebleau, France. She is on the Piano Faculty of the New Music School of Chicago.

Leroy Anderson built a career by composing sophisticated short works for orchestra such as “Sleigh Ride” (a Christmas-time favorite) and “The Typewriter.” Compositions to be performed by Anderson on Oct. 7th are “Waltzing Cat,” “Syncopated Clock,” and “Old Mac Donald.” Anderson was all set to take a job as a language instructor upon graduation from Harvard. Thanks to conductor Arthur Fiedler, Anderson was encouraged to compose and continued on with a career in music. This was especially expressed in a long collaboration with Fiedler and the Boston Pops. The world is richer for it.

The third American composer to be featured is Morton Gould. During his long life Gould was celebrated as a composer for Broadway, film, and television, as well as the concert stage. Gould’s “American Salute” (Based on “When Johnny comes Marching Home”) opens this concert. It was written during World War I I and since then has become Gould’s most popular work. Morton Gould attended a performance of his “American Salute” by the United States Military Academy Concert Band on the last evening of his life.

Ending this grand celebration will be “Salute to the Big Bands” featuring well known standards like “April in Paris”, “Pennsylvania 6, 5,000″, and many more. Sure to set your foot a tappin’, you will be transported back to the era of big bands without ever having to leave your seat!

Bring the entire family and friends to an afternoon of music that is planned to please both young and old – and all those in between.

Tickets prices: $18.00 for adults – $10 for Seniors/Adults – Children under 12 are admitted free with a paying adult.

Ticket can be ordered ahead of time by calling 847-295-1035 or purchased at the door on the day of the concert.

Check out the NSS website at