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Music and Art Combine for "Melodies on Canvas"

Melodies on Canvas

Sunday, January 20 at 1:30 pm

Evanston Art Center | 1717 Central Street

Free and open to the public


Students from the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy, a training center for gifted pre-college musicians, are collaborating with the Evanston Art Center (EAC),  to perform the first collaboration of a new project, “Melodies on Canvas,” aiming to bring together the music and visual arts genres.

Chiu developed this idea after participating in the Center Stage for Strings summer camp at the University of Michigan. “Students enrolled in the program performed chamber music in front of paintings they selected from the museum. The idea seemed fresh and different from any concert I had been to before. The pieces in the program were all familiar to me, or so I thought. As they were played next to an artwork, the painting seemed to come alive, radiating the music itself and adding a kind of fourth dimension of color to the canvas. Whatever intention the artist and composer had as he/she produced their works seemed to be for the sole purpose of exhibiting them together. It was as if Maurice Ravel specifically composed his String Quartet for James Whistler’s "Sea and Rain," or vice-versa. That day, I listened to five completely new pieces. The simple pairing of imagery and sound didn’t just enhance each of the two elements but provided a different experience altogether.”

Each Academy string quartet will perform in the EAC First Floor Gallery in front of the artwork that inspired the music piece. The 2019 EAC Studio Exhibition showcases artwork by students of all ages in the departments of Ceramics, Digital Arts, Painting and Drawing, Figure Sculpture, Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Photography, Printmaking, and Woodworking. Students of all skill levels, from beginning to professional, present work in a wide range of media and processes created at the Evanston Art Center.

The program, which features three Academy string quartets, includes:


Xena String Quartet

Members: Claire Arias-Kim and Noelle Naito, violin/viola; Camille Toubol, cello; and

Isabel Chen, violin/viola

Coach: Rodolfo Vieira

The quartet members have individually won local, regional, and national competitions and have been participants at numerous music events and festivals. Claire Arias-Kim is winner of several competitions including Sejong, Rockford Symphony, Elgin Youth, Confucius, Lakeview Orchestra, and YoungArts. She has soloed with Jacobs School of Music Summer Academy, Lincolnwood, Elgin Youth, Ottawa Chamber, Lakeview orchestras. She was selected for the Brian Lewis Young Artist Program, and was a junior semifinalist in the Sphinx and Fischoff Competition. Claire has had masterclasses with Jaime Laredo, Kristof Barati, Vadim Gluzman, Rachel Barton, Ilya Kaler, Peter Herresthal, and Augustin Hadelich. This spring Claire will be a featured artist on WFMT’s “Introductions” and will have solo performances with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and Rockford Youth Symphony; Isabel Chen  is a winner of Sejong, Society of American Musicians, and DePaul Concerto Festival competitions, and has performed for Noah Bendix-Balgley, Yuan-Qing Yu, and Sarah Chang; Noelle Naito  is winner of American Protege, AADGT, and Columbia Orchestra Young Artist competitions, and has performed alongside such artists as Mark Kaplan and Brian Lewis; Camille Toubol is a winner at DePaul Concerto Festival, Music Festival in Honor of Confucius, Glenbrook Symphony Concerto competition, MYA Discover Chamber Competition, Enkor International Chamber competition, and was a semi-finalist at the National Fischoff Chamber Competition. She has played at various masterclasses including ones with Minna Rose Chung and Brandon Vamos, and has performed alongside with Yo-Yo Ma; Claire, Isabel, and Noelle currently study with Almita Vamos and Camille Toubol studies with Hans Jørgen Jensen.   The word “Xena” comes from the main character of the television series “Xena: Warrior Princess”. The name symbolizes empowerment of women to do what they want to do. For us, it represents the pursuit of excellence in chamber music.



Martinů - String Quartet #5, H. 268,

Allegro vivo

"Flight" by Elizabeth O’Connor-Bolich





Nova String Quartet

Members:  Zechary Mo, viola; Irina Casasnovas, violin; John Heo, violin;

and Cameron Chiu, cello

Coach:  Mathais Tacke


All four members of the Nova String Quartet are Fellows at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy, a pre-college training program for gifted musicians. The quartet members have individually won regional, national, and international competitions, and have been participants of numerous music events and festivals. Irina Casasnovas (18) has won awards from Tibor Varga Junior International Competition, Sphinx Competition, Young Artist Costa Rica Competition, Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition, National Young Arts Foundation, DePaul Concerto Festival, and Musicians Club of Women Competition. She has performed as a soloist with Kremereta Baltica, Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra, Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne Orchestra, and Ottawa Chamber Symphony. John Heo (18) is a winner of DePaul Concerto Festival, Arthur D. Montzka Concerto Competition, Sejong Cultural Society Competition, American Music Institute Violin Competition, Chinese Fine Arts Society Competition, Musichorale Scholarship Competition, Glenbrook Concerto Competition, and Walgreens National Concerto Competition. He has soloed with Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra, Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, Ottawa Chamber Symphony, and Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra. Zechariah Mo (17) has won prizes from the Society of American Musicians Competition, Chinese Fine Arts Society Competition, Sejong Music Competition, Musichorale Competition, DePaul Concerto Festival, and Fox Valley Concerto Competition. He has performed with the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra. Cameron Chiu (17) has won prizes from Society American Musicians Competition, Chinese Fine Arts Society Competition, and DePaul Concerto Festival, and has soloed with the Fremd Symphony Orchestra.




Verdi - String Quartet in E minor, Allegro

"Lake Michigan Sunset" by Leah Durst






Fiero String Quartet


Members: First row: Kaylin Liu, violn; Alon Hayut, cello;

Back row: Isabella Brown, violin; and Elena Galentas, viola

Coach: Rodolfo Vieira


Individually, their experience includes performances at prestigious venues around the world, many competition wins, and solo appearances with orchestra and on radio.  Isabella Brown, a student of Almita and Roland Vamos, won the Alexander and Buono Int’l Competition, the Asian American Int’l Competition, the Open Junior String Division of the MYA Walgreens National Concerto Competition, the DePaul Concerto Festival, the Rockville Competition, the Confucius Competition, the Lakeview Orchestra Competition, and the Sejong Music Competition, was named a 2019 YoungArts Winner, and soloed several times with orchestra, as well as on WFMT.  Kaylin Liu, a student of Almita Vamos, was a prize winner in many competitions including the Society of American Musicians Competition, the Chinese Fine Arts Society Confucius Competition, and the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton Music Scholarship Competition, soloed with Camerata Chicago Orchestra at the age of 12, and served previously as concertmaster of DuPage Youth Symphony Orchestra.  Elena Galentas, a student of Roland Vamos and Davis King, has had many performances and opportunities as co-principal for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, including performances at both Chicago Symphony Center and Jay Pritzker Pavilion and collaborations with Cedille Records and the League of American Orchestras, among others.  Alon Hayut, a student of Horacio Contreras, won both the Dexter Community Orchestra Concerto Competition and the Ann Arbor Camerata Concerto Competition, was a prize winner at the Rosalie Edwards Young Artist Competition, is principal cello of both the Pioneer Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra, has traveled to both Sweden and Scotland to perform, and most recently, was named a 2019 YoungArts Winner. Fiero is an Italian word meaning proud, bold and fearless, and the quartet members hope that these characteristics are embodied in their playing.





Haydn - String Quartet in F Major, Opus 50, #5, Finale: Vivace

"Good Ol' Charlie Brown" by Reece Pekin (Music Institute oboe student)












Grieg - String Quartet #1 in G minor, Opus 27, Un Poco Andante—Allegro molto ed agitato

"Cataclysm" by Anne Kauff


EAC President and CEO Paula Danoff commented, “We are so honored and thrilled to be partnering with the Music Institute. The talent that all these artists possess and share with the audience is overwhelming! This is such a creative process, and we are looking forward to the performance. ”      
“We are fortunate to have a community partner as good as the Evanston Art Center,” said Music Institute President and CEO Mark George. “Together we have created a common space for young musicians and visual artists to express what cannot be said in words alone.”

Chiu hopes this is the first of similar collaborations that will enhance art making and art viewing. “I hope this unique twist on the arts acts as a doorway to those who have not yet encountered the world of art. I intend for this project to showcase members of my generation who advocate for exposure to and education in the arts at schools. I hope that this and other events under the Melodies on Canvas banner show my appreciation for art’s impact, while allowing students, adults, musicians, and artists to learn something new about the world.”

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