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FREE Courtroom Concert featuring Joanne Opgenorth, violin; Jennifer Gerth, clarinet; Laura Sewell, cello; Ora Itkin, piano

Thursday, February 14, 12:00PM

Landmark Center Courtroom 317

Joanne Opgenorth joined the Orchestra’s first violin section in 2002, after serving seven seasons as a first violinist in the Washington National Opera Orchestra in Washington, D.C. She has collaborated with Orchestra musicians and guest artists, playing chamber music in the Minnesota Orchestra Chamber Music, Nightcap and Sommerfest series, and in KinderKonzerts and Common Chords outreach chamber music concerts. Opgenorth is a first prize winner in the Eckhardt-Gramatte Competition of Canada and the recipient of several Canada Council awards. She has appeared as soloist with the Edmonton Symphony and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestras, and has toured Canada in recital. She has played chamber music concerts in Spain, Switzerland, and throughout the eastern United States and Puerto Rico with various ensembles, including Continuum—a new music ensemble based in New York—and the Morrison String Quartet based in Washington, D.C. She is a founding member of the Isles Ensemble, a chamber music group that performs at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Her performances have been broadcast on Canada’s CBC Radio, WQXR New York and Minnesota Public Radio.

Jennifer Gerth is in her 21st year as principal clarinet of the Duluth-Superior Symphony.  An active member of the Twin Cities musical community, she also performs with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Mill City Opera, and in various other freelance orchestras.  Her formal studies were undertaken at St. Olaf College, Northwestern University and The University of Minnesota. Ms. Gerth has taught at the College of St. Benedict, St. Cloud State University, Concordia College, St. Olaf College and is currently teaching at Augsburg College and the University of St. Thomas.  Ms. Gerth also teaches at Birch Creek Summer Performance Center and plays in the Alexandria Festival of the Lakes Chamber Music Festival.


Cellist Laura Sewell enjoys an active and varied musical career. From 2007-2016, she was a member of the esteemed Artaria String Quartet. In recent seasons, the quartet was appointed as one of Minnesota Public Radio’s ensembles-in-residence, was featured on Twin Cities Public Television’s “Minnesota Originals” series, and performed the complete Shostakovich quartet cycle to critical acclaim. Earlier in her career, Ms. Sewell was the founding cellist of the award-winning Lark Quartet. During her tenure in that ensemble the quartet won the bronze medal at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, served as the graduate string quartet-in-residence at the Juilliard School, and had a teaching residency at San Diego State University.  Her chamber music teachers have included members of the Juilliard, American, Tokyo, Guarneri and Budapest quartets, as well as master teachers Felix Galimir, Josef Gingold, and William Pleeth. Ms. Sewell received her Bachelor’s Degree from the Juilliard School where she was a student of Leonard Rose, and her Master’s Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Alan Harris. She has done additional cello study with Ronald Leonard, Gabor Rejto and Laszlo Varga, and has performed in masterclasses for Janos Starker and Bernard Greenhouse. She has had solo cello works written for her by distinguished composers Paul Schoenfield, Stephen Paulus and Steve Heitzeg. Over the past two decades, Ms. Sewell has been on the faculties of Augsburg College, the MacPhail Center for Music, Madeline Island Music Camp, Stringwood, and the Artaria Chamber Music School.

Russia born pianist Ora Itkin began her piano studies at age 4 under the guidance of her father, Igor Itkin, who became known as one of the pioneers of subversive Russian jazz. She is a graduate of the Russian Academy of Music, Moscow, Russia; Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; and Rubin Academy of Music at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. In her musicianship she follows the legacy of her teachers who belong to the lineage of the legendary Heinrich Neuhaus school of piano playing. An active concert pianist and chamber musician, she performs in some of the major venues across the Twin Cities as well as internationally in Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Most recently she performed a series of solo recitals and led masterclasses in Montpelier, France and Jerusalem, Israel. Ms. Itkin is a faculty member at both the University of St. Thomas and MacPhail Center for Music. She also maintains a private teaching studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she teaches individually and as a chamber music coach. She is two-time recipient of the MacPhail Artist Grant and a recent recipient of the University of St. Thomas Faculty Development Grant. As an educator and a life-long advocate of a holistic approach to learning, Ms. Itkin seeks to promote an interconnectedness of music with the arts, humanities, and sciences in everything she does, especially in her multimedia productions, interdisciplinary workshops and presentations, and individual work with students.

View the Frequently Asked Questions about the Courtroom Concerts.

About the Host

Composer Abbie Betinis writes music called “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times), “superb, whirling, soaring” (Tacoma News Tribune), and “the highlight” of the program (Boston Globe).  With over 50 commissioned works for ensembles such as Cantus, the New England Philharmonic, and The Rose Ensemble, Abbie has been awarded a McKnight Composer Fellowship, grants from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and Jerome Foundation, and was recently listed in NPR Music’s Top 100 Composers Under 40.  A resident of Saint Paul, she is adjunct professor of composition at Concordia University, and was composer-in-residence with the Schubert Club from 2005-2017.