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Naperville
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Art Talk – The sun sets in the Wentz

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The news landed like a ton of bricks in inboxes across the community. In a brief three-paragraph email from North Central College Fine & Performing Arts, the announcement read, “At the conclusion of the 2023-2024 season, the College will no longer offer a ‘Presented Performance Series’ as part of its fine and performing arts program.”

The decision, it said, was based on the significant operational cost of the series that negatively impacted the College’s bottom line.

North Central College then confirmed its “longstanding commitment to the arts” and reassured audiences that it “will continue to showcase its collaborations with partner organizations, including the Chicago Sinfonietta, the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, and the Naperville Chorus.”

Events from two of these entities are on this month’s calendar. Chicago Sinfonietta will close its current season at Wentz Concert Hall with “REVERB,” a concert that will showcase the power and vibrance of classical music, at 7:30PM on Fri., May 10. The evening will include works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Carlos Simon, an up-and-coming, highly sought-after composer whose work has premiered with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Washington National Opera. World-renowned pianist George Li will round out the evening with one of the most iconic pieces in the classical genre. Tickets are $10 to $65.

Next, the DuPage Symphony Orchestra completes its 70th anniversary celebration with “Modern and Melodious” at Wentz Concert Hall at 7:30PM on Sat., May 18. The evening will feature DuPage County native and acclaimed trumpet player Elizabeth Bowden, who will perform the “Trumpet Concerto of 1963,” a work by the Welsh composer Grace Williams. Tickets are $15 to $42.

Still, many mourn the loss of the “Presented Performance Series,” a staple in Naperville since Wentz Concert Hall opened 16 years ago. Completed in 2008, thanks to a lead gift from scientist and music lover Dr. Myron Wentz, the venue welcomed celebrities such as Yo-Yo Ma, Herb Alpert, Herbie Hancock, Art Garfunkel, Ramsey Lewis, and LeAnn Rimes.

Naperville resident Laura Rivas, who supported the concert hall from the beginning, expressed her dismay at the decision to cancel the series. “I was shocked when I learned that the ‘Presented Performance Series’ was coming to an end after all these years of excellent programming. I know many others will regret the loss of a rich variation of concerts performed in a state-of-the-art acoustical venue that is an asset to the community.”

While the College stated it has no plans to resurrect the performance series, it is open to adding new organizations to its list of existing partners. Community members are crossing their fingers that an influx of programs from outside sources will bring engaging and inspiring performances to Naperville’s prestigious Wentz Concert Hall as well as its other stage venues, and maintain the presence of the quality productions to which they are accustomed.

Wentz Concert Hall
171 East Chicago Avenue
Naperville, IL 60540
630.637.7469
www.northcentralcollege.edu/show

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Debbie Venezia
Debbie Veneziahttp://www.artsdupage.org
Debbie Venezia is the Director of Arts DuPage, a DuPage Foundation initiative. Contact her at debbie@dupagefoundation.org or visit www.artsdupage.org.
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