Concerts & Events

Concerts & Events

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Keri Johnsrud & Kevin Bales Present the Music of Fred Rogers
Apr 25 @ 8:00 pm
Chicago­-based vocalist Keri Johnsrud and GRAMMY nominated pianist Kevin Bales have come together once again for the release of their latest project Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers. Johnsrud and Bales have succeeded in reimagining and rearranging the music that has been heard by numerous generations on the beloved children’s television program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The songs, which up until now were specifically tailored for a child’s ear, are now presented as reinvented gems that are wise and wistful, simple but not simplistic, and even, in some cases, a bit sultry. In this collection, Mister Rogers’ songs not only relate to adults; they seem to have been written for adults in the first place.

“It pays tribute to Fred Rogers’ music and spirit in a fashion that glows with respect and carries over some of the powerful messages of the show itself. It’s delicate and moving and one of the highlights of the year’s music so far.” – Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

Keri Johnsrud

Kevin Bales
Brandon Ridenour and Jeremy Jordan: Trumpet and Piano Recital
Apr 26 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Brandon Ridenour and Jeremy Jordan: Trumpet and Piano Recital @ PianoForte Studios

The international trumpet virtuoso (and former Canadian Brass member) Brandon Ridenour teams up with Chicago’s own classical/jazz pianist Jeremy Jordan to perform both original compositions and works by Gershwin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Debussy, Lennon & McCartney, and Dave Brubeck.

Solemn Empyrean (Serenades for Mother Earth): Original Compositions by D.M. Stoermer
Apr 27 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Solemn Empyrean (Serenades for Mother Earth): Original Compositions by D.M. Stoermer @ PianoForte Studios

Daniel M. Stoermer began classical piano training at the age of eight and started composing his own works at the age of 16. A native of California, he was inspired by its diverse natural landscapes, especially its majestic mountain ranges and the vast Pacific Ocean. His passion for nature developed his desire to use his music to inform the public on social and environmental issues. He has been performing and recording his own works at Pianoforte since 2008. Many of these can be heard at He is also the founder and keyboardist of the electronic band Shards of Glass. Daniel plans to have a YouTube channel available by the end of 2019.

Rudolph Ganz Festival – Music by Rudolph Ganz and Friends
Apr 28 @ 2:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Rudolph Ganz Festival - Music by Rudolph Ganz and Friends @ PianoForte Studios

Please join us in a free concert to celebrate the musical legacy and contributions of Rudolph Ganz (1877-1972). Participating artists include pianists Dana Brown, Ludmila Lazar, Scott Gilmore, Kuang-Hao Huang, Valdone Arffa, and Alyssa Conde. Also performing are the trio of Agnieszka Likos, violin, Patrycja Likos, violoncello, and Elif Allenfort, piano, and Bow & Hammer Duo (Kathryn Satoh, violin and Elizabeth Newkirk, piano).

Recital will feature Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Contemporary music, including pieces by Ganz himself, some of which are seldom performed. Other composers featured are contemporaries of Ganz and those he knew personally, including Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Frank Martin, and Ganz’s teacher Ferruccio Busoni.

Ganz was a Swiss-born pianist, conductor, composer, and music educator. In his 95 years he held a myriad of musical posts around the U.S. and concertized around the world. Importantly for Chicago, he taught at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (then known as Chicago Musical College), and served as its artistic director from 1930 to 1933 and then as president from 1934 to 1954.

Chad Lawson – re:piano
Apr 30 @ 7:30 pm
Chad Lawson - re:piano @ PianoForte Studios

A Steinway artist with multiple #1 releases, Chad Lawson has a different approach to classical music; don’t make it classical.  

His 2018 release, re:piano, pushes the envelope of the piano ’sounds’ like with the album composed of loops, effects and layers of textured landscapes.  all from a piano. Lawson was invited to share his approach to re:piano on NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon and continues to garner press across the Globe.

In 2015, his release The Chopin Variations, caught the attention of CBS TV’s Sunday Morning,  NPR’s All Things Considered and PRI’s Performance Today.  Along with the violinist from Lady Gaga and the cellist from Kanye West, the trio has turned the classical world on its head as it has ‘deconstructed Chopin’ into a modern-day/minimalist landscape. The Huffington Post called it “Intricate elegance” while NPR’s All Things Considered said “You haven’t heard the Polish composer performed the way Chad Lawson plays him.”  Lawson simply wanted to re-introduce Chopin to the Spotify generation.  The generation where genres no longer apply.  The generation that hears only two styles of music; good or bad.

Chad is the official composer for the Amazon television series, Lore, in addition to the podcast titled the same. His music has also been used for The Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, Viceland and numerous commercial placements have included clients such as IBM, Microsoft, Purina, Delta Airlines, USB Financial, Asprey of London and many more.

U.S. Tour Dates:

April 28, 2019 – Cathedral of the Incarnation / Garden City, NY

April 30, 2019  –  Pianoforte Foundation / Chicago, IL

May 8, 2019  – The Herbst Theatre / San Francisco, CA

US Media Contact:

Karen Lee @  Evolution Promotion

Text 617.285.1243 E:

“Evolution Promotion introduced the magic of Ludovico Einaudi to the US and his success story continues to defy musical boundaries around the globe. We are thrilled to embark on a new journey with extraordinary talent,

Chad Lawson, who is inspiring the Spotify Generation with his unique musical genius”  – Evolution Promotion

New Budapest Orpheum Society present “Shir Chadash: The Art of Jewish Song”
May 7 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
New Budapest Orpheum Society present "Shir Chadash: The Art of Jewish Song" @ PianoForte Studios

This event is free and open to the public. To reserve your seat please register.

A reception will follow the concert.

“Sing unto the Lord a new song / Shiru l’Adonai shir chadash”! From Antiquity to the twenty-first century, from centuries of diaspora to the moments of return, from tragedy to triumph, the call for “New Song” has symbolized both the struggle and the celebration of Jewish history. Appearing throughout the Hebrew Bible, that call charts the path of history and raises voices in prayer. “New Song” sounds the distinctiveness of lyric in the Jewish languages that open from the classical sonorities of Hebrew to the critical encounter signified by Jewish languages from the Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Mizrahi diasporas. “New Song” spreads across the soundscapes of survival and renewal. In their Pianoforte program on May 7th, the eight-member New Budapest Orpheum Society celebrates “New Song” in its expansive variety. The program weaves folk and popular music together, while following a path to some of the great art-song works of the modern era. The University of Chicago-based cabaret ensemble captures the spirit of “New Song” in its most intimate settings – the home, the shtetl, the moments of remembrance and redemption – and it searches for Jewish experience on the stages of history – from cabaret to concert stage to concentration camp. The program for “Shir chadash” includes songs by Mordechai Gebirtig, Felix Prokeš, Jac Weinstein, František Kovanic and other composers voicing resistance to the Holocaust. Singers Julia Bentley and Stewart Figa lead the audience through post-War repertories for the stage, in works by Benzion Witler, Zygmunt Konieczny, and the NBOS’s own music director, Ilya Levinson. The journey through “New Song” in six languages and voices of diaspora culminates with a set of remarkable – and virtually unknown – songs by the French Sephardic composer, Darius Milhaud. “New Song” takes the Pianoforte audience on a journey it will not forget.

The New Budapest Orpheum Society is an Ensemble-in-Residence in the Humanities Division at the University of Chicago. Its eight members perform locally in Chicago synagogues, universities, and cultural institutions, and the ensemble tours widely, performing at Symphony Space and the Café Sabarsky in New York City, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum. The ensemble draws upon a wide range of repertories, many forgotten, others preserved in European archives, all poignantly bearing witness to the great tradition of Jewish cabaret. In 2011, Artistic Director, Phil Bohlman, and the NBOS were the recipients of the Noah Greenwood Award for Historical Performance from the American Musicological Society. The ensemble has released three CDs: Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano (Cedille Records 2002) and Jewish Cabaret in Exile (Cedille Records 2009), and Moments musicaux of Jewish Music (University of Chicago Press 2008). The New Budapesters are currently preparing two recording projects, one devoted to film music from the Golden Age of Jewish film, the other to cabaret, melodrama, and opera created in concentration camps during the Holocaust. The New Budapest Orpheum Society members are: Julia Bentley (mezzo soprano), Philip V. Bohlman (artistic director), Stewart Figa (baritone), Danny Howard (percussion), Iordanka Kissiova (violin), Ilya Levinson (music director and piano), Jim Cox (double bass), and Don Stille (accordion).

Miki Aoki: Piano Recital
May 9 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Miki Aoki: Piano Recital @ PianoForte Studios
Miki Aoki will perform works by J.S. Bach, Debussy, Takanobu Saito (Soundtracks from Ozu films), and Schumann.

Praised for “genuinely memorable performance” by BBC Music Magazine, pianist Miki Aoki is widely recognized for her diverse abilities as pianist and as a collaborative artist.

Ms. Aoki is recording exclusively for German Label Hänssler Profil. Her debut album of Zoltan Kodaly’s piano works was released in the fall of 2011 and won critical acclaim. The second CD, The Belyayev Project, featuring fascinating compositions varying from solo piano works by Liadow, Glazunov and Blumenfeld and the piano Trio by Rimsky-Korsakov was released in 2013. The Fanfare Magazine praised it as “graceful, expressive and transparent performance” and The Ensemble Magazine (Germany) wrote, “…pianist Miki Aoki interprets magically”. Her third CD, Mélancolie was released in May 2016 and was awarded a special prize by Japanese music magazine “Record Geijutsu”. Her newest recording Tokyo Story will be released in 2018.

A frequent guest artist of prestigious concert series and festivals around the world, Ms. Aoki has performed on the stages of St. Martin-in-the Fields, St. John’s Smith Square, the Royal Festival Hall and the Purcell Room at South Bank Centre, the Barbican centre, Blackheath Halls (UK), Laeizhalle Hamburg, Gasteig München, Philharmonie Essen, Beethovenssal Hannover (Germany), Philia Hall, Munetsugu Hall (Japan), Wiener-Saal (Austria), St-Petersburg Philharmonic Hall (Russia) as well as in festivals such as Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, Salzburger Festspiele, Rheingau Festival (Germany), Menuhin Festival Gstaad (Switzerland), International Chamber Music Festival Silver Lyre (Russia), Beaulieu-sur-la Mer (France), Valdres Festival (Norway), Copenhagen Summer Music Festival (Denmark), Steirisches Kammermusik Festival(Austria), Tembi Festival (Indonesia), Phnom Penh International Music festival (Cambodia) and International Classical Music Festival. (Myanmar).

Ms. Aoki has performed as soloist with National Symphony, London Soloist Chamber Orchestra, Hamburg Camerata, Washington Sinfonietta and Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México. The legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman invited Ms. Aoki to his Chamber Music festival in Long Island, USA in 2006. Ms Aoki’s performances have been broadcast on NDR-North German Radio, RBB-Radio Berlin, Brandenburg, BR Classics, WDR, Hessischer Rundfunk, Radio Suisse Romande, ORF Austria, Radio France, 98.7 WFMT Chicago, MPR Classic and ABC Classic FM Australia and BBC Radio 3.

Highlights of the previous season include a solo tour in South Africa as well as chamber music performances at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall, Munetsugu Hall in Nagoya, and a solo recital at Philia Hall Yokohama. Ms. Aoki made her Mexico debut with Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México under maestro Enrique Bátiz in November 2016.

As a collaborative pianist Ms. Aoki has been invited by Heifetz International Music Institute in Virginia, International Summer Academy Mozarteum Salzburg (Austria) , Mattheiser Sommer-Akademie, International Summer Academy Bad Leondfelden, International Mendelssohn Summer School, International Violin Masterclasses at Kronberg Academy and KONTUREN Brühl (Germany). Ms. Aoki regularly plays for masterclasses of internationally renowned musicians including Yuri Bashmet, Christoph Eschenbach, Christian Tetzlaff, Maxim Vengerov and Tabea Zimmermann. Ms. Aoki is a faculty pianist at the prestigious Kronberg Academy in Germany. As a devoted educator, Ms Aoki has served as a faculty member at major European institutions including Hochschule für Music und Theater Hamburg (Germany) and Conservatoire de Lausanne (Switzerland). From 2012-2016 Ms Aoki worked full-time as a Senior Lecturer in Collaborative Piano at Kunstuniversität Graz in Austria.

Ms. Aoki moved to London at age 9 where she joined the Purcell School of Music. She holds degrees from Indiana University and Yale University. In 2007 Ms. Aoki obtained a distinction in the Konzertexamen degree at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.(Mit Auszeichnung). Her main teachers were Roshan Magub, James Gibb, Reiko Neriki, György Sebök, Boris Berman and Evgeni Koroliov.

Ms. Aoki is currently a teaching assistant at SUNY Stony Brook in New York where she is pursuing DMA under the guidance of Gilbert Kalish.

Christine Steyer & Jean-Claude Orfali: The Sweet Spot Between Our Worlds
May 11 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Christine Steyer & Jean-Claude Orfali: The Sweet Spot Between Our Worlds @ PianoForte Studios

Christine Steyer, soprano Jean-Claude Orfali, piano with Claudia Hommel, soprano will perform works by Kurt Weill, John Jacob Niles, French Songs & premiere of New Songs by Steyer & Orfali.

The concert will run from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM with a short intermission.

Regular tickets $25 in advance/$30 at door.
Student tickets $15 in advance/$20 at door.
VIP tickets $50/not available at the door.
No refunds or exchanges available for this event.

Christine Steyer, soprano, has distinguished herself as an artist of great versatility. In addition to being the recent recipient of seven national performance awards including the 2018 American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award and 2011 Johnny Mercer Award, Steyer has received acclaim for her portrayals of the title role in Madama Butterfly and Violetta in La Traviata. Steyer recently sang for the Cuban Ambassador and was the featured artist for the American Opera Society Gala. She can be heard on the CD Voices of the Sacred produced by SoundsTrue. A frequent recitalist, Steyer sang with pianists Philip Morehead, Marta Johnson and guitarist Brandon Acker. Since 2000, she has sung as a chorister and in several small roles in 40 productions at Lyric Opera of Chicago. As a proponent of new works, she collaborated with numerous poets and musicians to publish Six Songs for Soprano and is collaborating on a book of cabaret songs with Jean-Claude Orfali.

Jean-Claude Orfali (Paris) has participated in many international events and piano concerts around the world. Pianist, composer, conductor, Jean-Claude comes from a family of musicians. For many years he has played regularly in Paris at venues such as Le George V, le Plaza-Athénée et le Bristol. He appears frequently at the oldest Parisian artistic cabaret Lapin Agile. He serves as pianist and instructor for the Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion. He performs as a solo pianist, as part of small jazz groups and has led the Parisian Big Band “BB15”. He has composed and performed for film.

Presented by

The Orion Ensemble with Guest Stephen Boe, viola
May 15 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
The Orion Ensemble with Guest Stephen Boe, viola @ PianoForte Studios

Recognized as one of Chicago’s finest chamber music groups, the ORION ENSEMBLE has been performing since 1992. John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune calls Orion “one of Chicago’s most vibrant, versatile and distinctive ensembles.” With the possibilities inherent in its unique combination of instruments—piano, string trio and clarinet—Orion offers exciting interpretations of standard repertoire, introduces audiences to rarely performed masterpieces and inspires composers with commissions for new works. Orion’s innovative programs feature diverse works by composers ranging from Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms to William Bolcom, Chick Corea, Paul Schoenfield and Augusta Read Thomas.

The Orion Ensemble boasts a roster of superb musicians who have performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia, as an ensemble and individually in solo, orchestral and other chamber music roles. In Chicago, Orion presents a four-concert series in three venues, is heard regularly on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” and appears frequently on the Chicago Cultural Center’s Lunchbreak Series “Classical Mondays.”


Alfred Uhl
KLEINES KONZERT for Viola, Clarinet, and Piano (1938)

Sergei Prokofiev
OVERTURE ON HEBREW THEMES for Clarinet, String Quartet and Piano, Op. 34

Johannes Brahms
PIANO QUINTET in F Minor, Op. 34

Program Notes:

Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, referred to as the “crown of his chamber music,” features surprising shifts of tonality, daring use of harmony and sudden emotional contrasts, which make this innovative chamber piece a singularly profound concert experience. This timeless masterpiece showcases the composer’s most well-known elements-richness of texture, unexpected episodes of darkened mystique, unsurpassed lyricism of the slow movements, undisputed mastery of chromaticism and artistry in writing for every instrument.

Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, composed as a sextet for clarinet, string quartet and piano, highlights a combination of instruments rarely experienced in chamber music repertoire. Commissioned by a Russian sextet called the Zimro Ensemble shortly after Prokofiev arrived in New York in 1918, this work features melodies inspired by Jewish folk songs. The true mystery of this work comes from the uncertainty of whether Prokofiev composed the songs’ themes or if the sextet’s clarinetist Simeon Bellison (1881-1953) composed the basic melodic ideas. Whatever the case, this overture is a work of great exotic beauty.

Also on this program is the highly dramatic and original music of Alfred Uhl (1909-92), an Austrian composer, conductor, violist and music instructor. From commanding a French prison camp during WWII to serving as a distinguished faculty member at the Vienna Music Academy, Uhl created music that is harmonically daring, rhythmically dynamic and melodiously innovative. The Kleines Konzert (Little Concert) for viola, clarinet and piano is grand in scope yet intimate in presentation. Featuring Uhl’s chosen instrument, the viola, this trio ingeniously combines expansive orchestral textures with stunning chamber music virtuosity to simulate the sound of a concerto.

Adam Birnbaum/Chris Madsen Duo
May 16 @ 7:30 pm
Adam Birnbaum/Chris Madsen Duo @ PianoForte Studios

New York-based pianist Adam Birnbaum and Chicago saxophonist Chris Madsen reunite for a one-night-only performance of jazz standards. Having attended the Juilliard School together and recorded in the mid-2000s, the two are excited to join forces once again after many years apart.

Christopher Madsen’s credits as a saxophonist include performances and recordings with Paul Simon, Bobby Short, Wynton Marsalis, Victor Goines, Jeff Hamilton, Lage Lund, Michael Dease, Ulysses Owens, Ben Williams, Marquis Hill, Jon Irabagon, and countless others. He is a published composer with Kendor Music, Inc., the UNC Jazz Press, and Walrus Music. From 2008 to 2014, he served as Jazz Studies Coordinator for Northwestern University and is currently Jazz Studies faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Wisconsin at Parkside. A graduate of the Juilliard and DePaul University music schools, Madsen is also a Vandoren and Conn-Selmer artist and member of the College Music Society, NAfME, National Educator’s Association, and JEN. He has presented clinics, conducted ensembles, and performed around the U.S. and the world.  He is one of the most in-demand and versatile saxophonists in Chicago, maintaining an active performance schedule and private studio. For more information, visit

Adam Birnbaum is emerging as one of the top young voices in jazz piano. Since arriving on the New York scene in 2003, he has become increasingly prominent performing in clubs and festivals around the world, working with artists as diverse as Greg Osby, Al Foster, Wynton Marsalis, Cecile Mclorin Salvant, and The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Adam’s early education took place in Boston. In 2001 Adam became a member of the inaugural class of Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School. After graduating in 2003, Adam won the American Jazz Piano Competition in May 2004 to become the American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter fellow in Jazz.  Since then Adam has established a busy performing career as a sideman and as a leader. “Three Of A Mind, Adam’s latest album as a leader, was hailed as “an eloquent dispatch from the heart of the contemporary piano trio tradition” by the New York Times.

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PianoForte Studios is located at 1335 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605.

The easiest way to find parking near us is by using SpotHero. Click on their logo below to be redirected to their website.

If you prefer to go directly to a garage or lot, here is a list of a few in the area:

Street parking on our block is unmetered, but finding a spot can be difficult at most times of the day. One block south of us there is metered street parking. We recommend having a backup plan if you decide to try to park on the street.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where are you located?
We are located on the east side of Michigan Avenue two blocks south of Roosevelt Rd. The address is 1335 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605. Our concert hall is on the 2nd Floor.

Where should I park?
Please see the Parking Section above.

Is there handicap access?
We have an elevator in the back of our building. The elevator is keyed and will require a staff member to escort you. If you aren’t able to take the stairs please enter the front door of the building and ring the doorbell directly ahead of you in the entry area. One of our staff will be down shortly to help.

How many seats are in the hall? Is seating assigned or general?
Our concert hall seats a maximum of 100 people. We generally have chairs set up for 65 to 80 depending on the event. All of our concerts are general admission unless otherwise noted in the event description.

Can I buy tickets at the door?
Generally, yes. Unless a concert is extremely popular we will have tickets available at the door. You can pay either by cash or card.

How early should I arrive? What time will doors open?
The door open time depends on the artists and how long they feel they need to rehearse before the concert. In general doors will open 15 to 30 minutes before the event start time. We recommend arriving 10 to 20 minutes before the concert start time to get a seat and settle in before the show starts.

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