Patti Vasquez, host of WGN radio’s “Pretty Late With Patti Vasquez,” will host A Variety Show, a showcase of comedy, dance and music on the Main Campus of Northeastern Illinois University on April 16. The show will be presented by the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble, in residence at Northeastern since 2007.
Vasquez will kick off the show with a stand-up comedy routine and interviews with the musicians and performers, including clarinet virtuoso Jorge Montilla, who will join the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble for a new arrangement of Astor Piazolla’s “La Muerte del Angel.”
The Chicago Clarinet Ensemble has been performing at Northeastern for nine years, but this is its first variety show.
“Variety shows have something for everyone,” Chicago Clarinet Ensemble Artistic Director Rose Sperrazza said. “Ours will have comedy, dancers, a color guard, and a narrator. We wanted to make it interesting to more than just classical musicians.”
The ensemble has made several appearances on Vasquez’s live radio show, where anything can happen. During one appearance, one of the members of the ensemble handed a contrabass clarinet to Vasquez, whose father was a clarinet player.
“It was hilarious,” Sperrazza said. “We are probably going to do something similar at the concert. It’s really funny to see someone try to play an instrument for the first time.”
Other performers in the variety show include soprano Kathy Cowan, South Shore Color Guard, the Swan Quartet, and kid dancer duo Katherine and Alexander Waterman.
The ensemble ranges in size from two to more than 35 players, and has appeared at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago’s Merit School of Music, the University of Iowa, in numerous broadcasts on Chicago’s WFMT, and in many outreach concerts. Since its inaugural concert in 2007, the ensemble has featured world-renowned soloists such as Stanley and Naomi Drucker, John Bruce Yeh, Anthony McGill, Charlene Zimmerman, Lawrie Bloom, Steve Cohen, John Hagstrom, and Elsa and Walter Verdehr.