Leading film and recording musicians in the 1940s and ‘50s, violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller founded the Hollywood String Quartet. They were especially close to Frank Sinatra, who included them on several of his albums and tours. In fact, they were centerstage on his 1957 album titled “Close to You,” a kind of pre-classical-crossover undertaking with unusual string-quartet arrangements by Nelson Riddle.
Slatkin will serve as narrator, conductor and pianist for the event, co-presented by Dempster St. Pro Musica and the Music Institute of Chicago and scheduled for 7 p.m. April 20 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., in Evanston. Performing with Dempster St. Pro Musica, which was founded by CSO assistant principal oboist Michael Henoch, will be the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis. The latter group organized the first performance of the program in that city a few years ago.
The concert will include works by such composers as Aaron Copland, Enrico Morricone, Miklós Rozsa, Nino Rota and Franz Waxman, whose careers have straddled film and concert music. A highlight will be a piece for cello and piano that Erich Korngold wrote for the 1946 film “Deception.” It was performed by Slakin’s mother and uncle but ultimately dropped from the film. Rounding out the evening will be reconstructions of some of Riddle’s arrangements from “Close to You,” with vocalist Tom Heitman standing in for Sinatra. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Solti Foundation U.S.
“It’s not scripted,” Slatkin said. “I just sort of walk out and tell stories as I feel like it. People like it. It was very well received when we did it before.”
General admission tickets are $40; seniors, $30, and students, $15. VIP tickets for $100 include a signed copied of the book Conducting Business by Leonard Slatkin and a post-concert reception with Maestro Slatkin and the performers.
PHOTOS: The Hollywood String Quartet, including Felix Slatkin, far left, and Eleanor Aller, in the studio during the 1950s. BELOW: Felix Slatkin (right) and Frank Sinatra.