Be Inspired by Renowned Pianist Sandra Wright Shen, the World-Premiere of The Gate of Horn and Bruckner’s magnificent Second Symphony

Posted by: Beth Wakefield - March, 21st 2019 @ 04:55 pm

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra performs an evening of incredibly inspiring music featuring renowned pianist Sandra Wright Shen in Mozart’s highly spirited Piano Concerto No. 23, Bruckner’s life-affirming Second Symphony and the exciting world-premiere of The Gate of Horn by Illinois composer Carl Schimmel, an Associate Professor at Illinois State University, based on a poem by Louis Asekoff.


Listen LIVE to the Illinois Symphony Orchestra on Friday, April 5, 2019 at 7:30 PM at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts and Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 7:30 PM at Sangamon Auditorium, UIS. The concert in Springfield will be followed by a special post-concert reception hosted by the Illinois Symphony Guild of Springfield.


Please join Music Director Ken Lam, pianist Sandra Wright Shen, composer Carl Schimmel and poet Louis Asekoff before the concert for Concert Comments. Concert Comments are Friday, April 5, 2019 at 6:30 PM at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts and Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 6:30 PM at Sangamon Auditorium.


Order your tickets today for an evening of inspiring LIVE music!

Tickets are $20, $41, and $63. Student tickets available for $6 (Age 6-26) with valid Student ID, children 5 and under are free with a paying adult. Senior and group discounts are also available. Tickets may be purchased in Bloomington through the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts at (309) 434-2777 or in Springfield through the UIS Performing Arts Center for Sangamon Auditorium at (217) 206-6160. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone, or through the ticket office. Senior, group, or student priced tickets are not available online.


Incredibly Inspiring is sponsored by season sponsor The Landmark Automotive Group, and guest artist sponsors Family & Friends of Dave Beatty, Dr. Daniel & Debra Brownstone, Trevor & Liz Orthmann, and Jim & Debbie Ringer.


Sandra Wright Shen, Pianist

Steinway Artist Sandra Wright Shen has been described as a classical “pianist of the first order”. With her passion, musicality, and inspiration, she aims to move hearts through music.


Sandra has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in 14 countries and throughout the USA, at prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Music Center in DC, the Chicago Cultural Center, Monte Carlo Opera House, Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, Frankfurt Cultural Center in Germany, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Taiwan National Concert Hall, Korea Seoul Arts Center, Hong Kong City Hall, Granada Intl Music Festival, Recontres Musicale de Chaon in France, Brevard Music Festival and Masterworks Music Festival. As a guest artist, she has appeared with the Charleston Symphony, Hilton Head Symphony, Redlands Symphony, Brevard Festival Sinfonia, New Millennium Orchestra, Greater San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Formosa Philharmonic Orchestra, Taiwan National Symphony, Taipei Symphony and others. Shen is the Artist-In-Residence of the Charleston Symphony for the 2017-18 season. She has played chamber concerts with Vesselin Paraschkevov, former concert master of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and with Amos Yang, Assistant Principal Cello of the San Francisco Symphony. She has also performed on tour in Asia with cellist Nina Kotova. Learn more at


Carl Schimmel, Composer

Praised by The New York Times as “vivid and dramatic,” the music of Carl Schimmel is dense with literary and musical references, often humorous, and combines intensity of expression with a structural rigor which is influenced in part by his mathematics background.  In weaving his musical narratives from poetry, art, and even unusual words, he strives to construct emotional and culturally complex sound worlds that excite the listener’s imagination.  His recent honors include a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2018 commission from Harvard University’s Fromm Foundation, and the 2017 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  His music has been awarded Columbia University’s Joseph Bearns Prize, the Lee Ettelson Award, the First Music Award, and the Emil and Ruth Beyer Award, and he has received residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Copland House, and the Bogliasco Foundation.  His compositions have been performed in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Merkin Hall in New York, Severance Hall in Cleveland, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, and at other venues throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.  Ensembles which have commissioned or performed his works include the American Composers Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the California EAR Unit, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and many others.  His music has been recorded on various labels, including Navona Records, Albany Records, and New Focus Recordings.  A graduate of Duke University (Ph.D.), the Yale School of Music (M.M.), and Case Western Reserve University (B.A. Mathematics and Music), he is Associate Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Illinois State University in Normal, IL.


The Illinois Symphony Orchestra (ISO), led by acclaimed Music Director Ken Lam, is central Illinois’ largest professional orchestra serving over 30,000 community members with a budget of approximately $1.3 million. The ISO celebrates its 26th season of exciting performances with concerts in both Springfield and Bloomington/Normal including symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, pops concerts and Concerts for Kids.


The ISO’s commitment to the community is highlighted through its award-winning Music Matters! in-school programs for students in Kindergarten – 6th grade; engaging Concerts for Kids, a favorite of students teachers and parents; and the Around the Town Free Chamber Music Series. Through these programs the ISO brings diverse repertoire and live musical experiences to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.


The ISO, founded in 1993, is the consolidation of two well-established organizations: the Springfield Symphony and the Bloomington Normal Symphony. The ISO has won numerous awards including the Illinois Council of Orchestras' awards for Meritorious Service in Outstanding Programming, Community Service, and Community Event of the Year, all in recognition of its service and commitment to the citizens of Illinois. The ISO has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall during the tenure of Conductor Laureate Kenneth Kiesler and has made appearances at the Ravinia Festival, Millennium Park in Chicago and the Illinois State Fair.


Recently selected as one of the Top 8 things you should do in Illinois by


Additional information about the Illinois Symphony Orchestra is available at


The ISO is partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.