On Jan. 20, more than 80 members and guests attended a program at the Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., as three musicians, Jilene VanOpdorp, Yoko Yamada, and Allison Wang performed at the first Fran Randall Concert of 2017.
Ms. VanOpdorp is a flutist and recent master’s degree graduate of Northwestern University. She played two compositions, one by Aaron Copland and one by Friedrich Kuhlau. She was accompanied by Ms. Yamada on the piano. The second part of the concert featured Allison Wang, a Dean’s List scholarship student at Roosevelt University-Chicago College of Performing Arts who played a Beethoven piano sonata followed by three Debussy preludes.
Both Ms. Yamada and Ms. Wang played their compositions on the Levy Center’s refurbished 85-year-old Steinway grand piano. The overflow crowd responded enthusiastically to both performances. In an interview before the concert, Ms. VanOpdorp explained that she chose two of her favorite compositions to play for the audience. To her, the Copland piece is “quintessentially American.” It was a coincidence that the crowd heard the Copland piece a few short hours after the Presidential Inauguration; the upbeat tempo was a welcome bit of cheer offsetting the gloomy weather.
The musicians recruited for the Fran Randall Concerts are typically promising music students or recent graduates of local colleges and universities. The Fran Randall Concert Series is held four times a year – in January, March, May, and November – at the Center and is funded by the Levy Senior Center Foundation. Fran Randall was the Chairperson for the Levy Senior Center Building Fund Committee and a tireless fundraiser for the Center. One of her passions was classical music, and it was her dream to develop a program that would bring music to the seniors in Evanston. She died in December 2003, but her memory lives on in the concert series bearing her name.