EVENTS - Michael McCaskey Photography

Black Oak Ensemble

Posted: 10-15-14

Four friends who played stringed instruments would get together to play "just for fun". They enjoyed the music they made so much, they decided to form a new group, the Black Oak Ensemble. One of their first public appearances was a live broadcast from the Fay and Daniel Levin Performance studio at 98.7 WFMT in Chicago.

The members of the group are David Cunliffe, cello; Desiree Ruhstrat, violin; Goran Ivanovic, guitar; and  Aurelien Pederzoli, viola.

The event was hosted with warm appreciation by

Suzanne Nance.

Those lucky enough to be in the audience included trustees of WTTW/WFMT. The night of remarkable music-making ran from a Beethoven serenade to South American dances to Piazolla.

The enthusiastic response they received augurs an excellent future for the new group. Best of luck to them!

Exploring Music

Posted:  6-12-14

Recently I spent an engaging day “immersed” in the work and life of Leonard Bernstein. WFMT, the classical music station based in Chicago, organized a day of lectures, discussions, live performances and video of the maestro in action. The host was a wonderful teacher, Bill McGlaughlin, whose homespun sophistication was most enjoyable.

Bill’s teaching prowess is on display nightly with the program, “Exploring Music”. His talents as a conductor, composer, musician and learner enliven whatever musical subject he is exploring. To hear him through radio is one thing; to experience him teaching in person is a special treat. More on Bill and his program can be found at:

Leonard Bernstein has a claim on my interest and gratitude not only because I love the music of “West Side Story” but also because his TV programs introduced me to classical music. Bill showed video of Bernstein conducting the music of different composers in quite different ways. Being a conductor himself, Bill was able to comment knowledgeably on what made Leonard Bernstein so exceptional as a conductor.

Another fascinating segment occurred when Bill interviewed Henry Fogel about his years of working with Maestro Bernstein.

An array of award-winning musicians added the magic of performing Bernstein live.

Soprano Gillian Hollis sang beautifully and dramatically.

Jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson and the trio delivered a haunting rendition of “Some Other Time”.

Of course putting together such a varied and complex program required a group of talented professionals, in this case the team that produces “Exploring Music”. Here Technical Director Bill Siegmund reviews the schedule with Bill McGlaughlin.

Audience members especially enjoyed the opportunity to visit with Bill during the breaks. Many thanks to Bill McGlaughlin and the crew for an outstanding day of music and instruction. For more information on future Immersion Days such as Henry Fogel on the legacy of Maria Callas see

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