In mid-October, Urbana’s Krannert Center will host a musical trifecta that features two homegrown orchestras and the first visiting professional classical ensemble since the winter of 2020. Yes, the name ensembles are slowly returning, and on Thursday, October 14, the Verona Quartet will perform in the Foellinger Great Hall.

The Verona is one of the most acclaimed string quartets of the last decade and they are currently the Quartet-in-Residence at Oberlin College’s Conservatory. Their four members hail from four different countries, and in the last year and a half they have won the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award and released their first CD.


Photo courtesy of the University of Illinois School of Music

Their October 14 program will feature quartets by Schubert and Beethoven plus a work that will be new to almost everyone in the audience, Gabriella Lena-Frank’s, “Leyendas:  An Andean Walkabout." This 2001 work celebrates the mixed ethnicity of this native of Berkeley, California, and is scored for string quartet or string orchestra. 

October 16 and 17 celebrates the return to Krannert of two homegrown orchestras, the Sinfonia da Camera and the UI Philharmonia. As the Sinfonia returns to Krannert, I asked Music Director Ian Hobson to reflect on its return.

Smile Politely: It has been over 550 days since you last performed at Krannert. How does it feel to be back?

Ian Hobson: The Sinfonia is unique in the orchestras locally and nationally in that we can break down (da Camera) into smaller chamber groups.  We played some wonderful concerts at Allerton and University Christian Church at the height of the pandemic which kept the spirit alive, at least with our principal players.  I also made recordings as a pianist at Krannert observing the stringent rules in place.

SP: How much restructuring of the Sinfonia did you have to do this summer and fall considering the shutdown through so much of the 2020-21 season?

Hobson: Of course there have been changes, retirements, and such over the last 18 months. Yet, we have been able to fill our ranks with musicians eager to restart live music. It’s a thrilling renewal and we look forward to October 16 and beyond.

Photo courtesy of the Sinfonia Da Camera

That October 16 concert in the Foellinger Great Hall will feature works by Beethoven and Elgar, and Maestro Hobson will take to the keyboard for a performance of Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.”

For a full weekend of classical performances, stop by Krannert’s Foellinger Great Hall on Sunday, October 17 for a 3pm concert of the UI Philharmonia. This event will feature a performance of a work by University of Illinois School of Music Faculty member Carlos Carrillo. His composition, “The Gathering Grounds” will be the lead off work of the concert. A Mozart concerto and Dvorak’s 8th symphony will round out the program as classical music lovers can once again plan for a weekend at Krannert.