The best classical and opera events this November
Chicago Opera Theater: Orpheus & Euridice Eat you heart out, Kevin Costner. COT is pumping in 140,000 gallons of water to create a River Styx for composer Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera Orpheus & Euridice. The unflappable love at the heart of this ancient myth is the focal point for Gordon’s piece, proving once again that however far we think we’ve come, we are always telling some version of these first stories. Chicago Opera Theater has not publicly stated that there will be a pool party following each performance, but they haven’t expressly forbidden it either. Eckhart Park. Nov 1, 3, 8, 10 at 7:30pm. Free.
Ensemble Recherche Gun to my head, if I were allowed to pick one show to attend on this November list, its Recherche at Northwestern. These new-music titans don’t come around very often, and the sheet music they’ve stowed in their checked baggage is the proverbial shit. It’s difficult to think of three more boss composers of late than Helmut Lachenmann, Georg Friedrich Hass and Brian Ferneyhough, and all three are on deck for the German ensemble’s show. Northwestern University, Lutkin Hall. Nov 3, 7 at 7:30pm. $8 (Nov 3), free (Nov 7).
Frequency Series: Karl Larson D.A.R.E. officers are remiss if they don’t warn children against the psychoactive powers of Morton Feldman in addition to LSD and Psilocybin. As a graduate of new-music bastion Bowling Green State University, pianist Karl Larson is primed for modernists such as Feldman, and if the Triadic Memories recording from his recent Contagious Sounds Series performance in New York is any indication, the Frequency Series crowd is in for a cortex-twister. One of Feldman’s best-known scores, Triadic Memories clocks in at 90 minutes, so strap in, folks. Constellation. Nov 3 at 8:30pm. $10.
International Contemporary Ensemble: OpenICE #2 Hushed Tones ICE killed it with its recent John Zorn portrait concert at the MCA in October. The new-music pugilists are back this month with a kaleidoscopic program framed by…wait for it…Bach. Selections from the classical grandaddy’s Art of the Fugue contextualize string trio works from composers as varied as Anton Webern, James Tenney, Tom Johnson and Eva-Maria Houben. It’s not often that we get to hear the ICE string players alone, and both shows can be had for the low-low price of $0.00, so we’re calling this one a no-brainer chock full of brains. Chicago Public Library, Edgewater Branch. Nov 9 at 3pm. Free • Chicago Cultural Center. Nov 10 at 3pm. Free.
Frequency Series: Fonema Consort Between Fonema Consort and Ensemble Dal Niente (see below), Mauricio Pauly is having a big month in Chicago. The Costa Rica–born composer is not only featured on the Consort’s Frequency Series appearance, but his Dust Unsettled for soprano, trombone, cello, piano and percussion will be included on the group’s 2014 debut album. We’re especially amped to hear the band’s collaboration with Julio Estrada for the world premiere of his Yunnohui (version for trombone, piano and double bass Stratis Minakakis, new work for two sopranos). Constellation. Nov 10 at 8:30pm. $10.
Ensemble Dal Niente: Latino Music Festival: Ancient & New This month, Ensemble Dal Niente makes its Latino Music Festival debut, and true to form the group arrives packing some scintillating never- and seldom-heard tunes. Mauricio Pauly’s Apartamento Polsen Apartamento Peterson (2013) for saxophone cello and piano receives its U.S. premiere, as does ignis fatuus (2008) for solo violin by Chicago’s compositional coração, Marcos Balter. We’re especially enticed by spotlight on soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw for Jocy de Oliviera’s "Who Cares If She Cries I," Ileana Velazquez’s "Del Falso Amor Impuro" and Chace Wall’s arrangement of Spanish oldies, "Con que la lavaré" and "Noche Haze Escura." Harold Washington Library. Nov 14 at 6pm. Free.
Fifth House Ensemble: Black Violet Act 1 Fifth House has gained a lot of traction from its Black Violet collaboration with illustration phenom Ezra Clayton Daniels, and for good reason. The music-cum-animation project is one of the most inventive performative endeavors to have hit the city in recent years. The Housers reboot part one of the series, The Leagues of Despair, at Constellation this month featuring music by Walter Piston, Johannes Brahms, Jonathan Keren, Heitor Villa Lobos and Greg Simon. Humboldt Park. Nov 15 at 6:30pm. Free • Constellation. Nov 17 at 8:30pm. $12–$15.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Tilson Thomas Conducts Mahler 9 As the protégé of Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas might be expected to have a knack for the Mahler symphonies, and the San Francisco Symphony music director has gone on to establish himself as one of the world’s leading interpreters of the Austrian’s scores. The composer’s final (complete) symphony is paired with Stravinsky’s Elegy for J.F.K. Those looking to dig deeper into the maestro’s insights on these two masters should check out his excellent Keeping Score project. Symphony Center. Nov 21, 23 at 8pm, Nov 22 at 1:30pm, Nov 24 at 3pm. $39–$255.
Avalon Quartet: Bartók Cycle III We love that the Avalon Quartet is dishing us its Bartók Cycle in doses this season, expertly paired with sexy foils like Schubert, whose String Quartet in G Major acts as counterpart to Bartók’s String Quartet No. 3 in the group’s next Art Institute installment. Schubert's mercurial shifts of key offer a fascinating portent of the new harmonic paradigm for which Bartók would eventually be responsible. Consistently delivering sterling artistry, no Avalon Quartet concert should be missed, and certainly not when there’s Béla on the bill. Art Institute of Chicago. Nov 24 at 2pm. Free with museum admission.
Frequency Series: Chicago Q Ensemble: THREE-SIDED Chicago Q has its violist back after a shoulder injury benched Aimee Biasiello for 15 months, and the group has rebranded as a string trio. Coming out swinging, Q launches with THREE-SIDED in partnership with actress/director Deirdre Harrison. Through the music of Beethoven, Marcos Balter, Jenna Lyle and Andrew Norman, the ensemble will incorporate movement, costuming and set design to capture the spiritual and emotional component of human struggle, with a decidedly personal point of view. Constellation. Nov 24 at 8:30pm. $5–$10.
[Doyle Armbrust plays with his Spektral Quartet on Nov 10.—Ed.]