14 Year Old Violinist Highlighted At Next Fox Valley Orchestra Concert, "Beethoven Brilliance"

  • Serena Harnack

    Serena Harnack Mike Canale

Jonathan Hauser
Updated 4/1/2013 12:00 PM

The Fox Valley Orchestra will perform the fifth concert in its 2012-13 season entitled "Beethoven Brilliance." This blockbuster performance will feature the FVO's 2013 Young Artist Competition winner, violinist Serena Harnack, performing the Finale from Henri Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto no. 4 in d minor. In addition to Ms. Harnack's appearance, Maestro Colin Holman will lead the orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony no. 7, and the orchestra will be joined by the Fox Valley Orchestra Chorus and the Aurora University Chorus in performance of Beethoven's Mass in C with soloists Jennifer Barnickel-Fitch, soprano; Martha Kasten, mezzo-soprano; Joshua Baum, tenor; and Tim Christopoulos, bass. Both choruses will be under the direction of Dr. Lisa Fredenburgh, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Aurora University.

Violinist, Serena Harnack, 14, has been studying and playing the violin for 10 years. Her teachers are Almita Vamos and Hye-Sun Lee in The Academy; the elite training program for young musicians within the Music Institute of Chicago. An avid performer, Serena has swept nearly every young artist competition in the Chicagoland area as a top prize winner. She was highlighted in a solo performance on WFMT 98.7 FM in 2010 as an artist on the Introductions program, which highlights extraordinary pre-college talent. Her recent performance with the Oistrach Symphony was also broadcast on WFMT last summer, and her performance with Generation Next will be broadcast soon. In addition to her solo performing, she is an active ensemble player having been accepted into the Youth Symphony of DuPage at the tender age of 8. By age 10, she was the Concertmistress of the Preparatory Orchestra, and by age 11 she had advanced to the Symphony Orchestra becoming its youngest member. She has competed in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in the group Trio Giocoso in 2012 and 2013, and has participated in master classes and performance camps with violin and fiddle luminaries such as Rachel Barton-Pine, Mark O'Connor and many others. Serena is not only a classical musician, she is also active with the Plank Road Folk Music Society, plays the electric violin, studies viola, flute, and piano, is a member of the Marching Band and sings in her school's choir. In her spare time, she also enjoys cheerleading and playing with her two rescue cats. She is a freshman at St. Francis College Prep in Wheaton.


Beethoven's Symphony no. 7 was composed during a particularly difficult time in his life. 1812 was the year when his hearing was again eroding. Not only was he battling the loss of his hearing, but he had been terribly ill over the winter of 1811 and again in the summer of 1812, forcing him into convalescence at the Bohemian spa town of Teplitz, twice. The rest must have done Beethoven much good as the symphony's premiere was enthusiastically received, with the audience demanding an encore of the second movement upon its initial performance. The orchestra for this premiere was also comprised of a veritable "Who's Who" of the day, including master musicians and composers in their own right: Johann Hummel, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Beethoven's former composition teacher, Antonio Salieri. The performance was presented as a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau with Beethoven conducting. Even he remarked at the time, the seventh was one of his best works.

Not many years before the triumphant success of his seventh symphony, however, Beethoven had received a devastating blow at the premiere of his stoic Mass in C. A mammoth work, the Mass in C was a commission from Prince Nicholas Esterhazy II in honor of his wife's name day. The presentation of an annual "name day" mass had been started by Josef Haydn in 1795, but had fallen by the wayside in 1804 due to Haydn's infirmity. The Prince revived the tradition in 1807 awarding Beethoven the commission, but despite this grand gesture, the work was ultimately not well received. Publicly humiliated, Beethoven left the palace in a rage. The least often performed of Beethoven's compositions, the Mass in C is nevertheless a magnificent contribution to his choral canon. The soloists for the Mass are: Soprano, Jennifer Barnickel-Fitch, who is on the faculty at the College of DuPage, the School of the Performing Arts in Naperville and Nequa Valley High School. She holds a doctor of musical arts from the University of Michigan and performs regionally. An adjunct music instructor at Concordia University, Chicago, mezzo-soprano, Martha Kasten, is a member of the Lyric Opera Chorus and is a frequent oratorio soloist regionally. Tenor, Joshua Baum, is Assistant Professor of Music at Aurora University. Dr. Baum holds a doctor of musical arts degree from Michigan State University and is an active opera performer. In 2012, he was a Young Artist in the San Francisco Opera Merola Program. Bass, Tim Christopoulos, hails from the Chicago area and has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus for the past twelve years. An active performer, Tim has been heard with several of the region's opera companies and symphony orchestras.

Fox Valley Orchestra performance "Beethoven Brilliance"

Sunday, April 28, 2013, 3 p.m.

Crimi Auditorium

Aurora University's Institute for Collaboration

420 S. Calumet Avenue

Aurora, IL 60507

Tickets prices: $13 | $11 | $5 and may be purchased online at www.foxvalleyorchestra.org or at the venue day of show.

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