About Us

chamber music at bethany

Co-Artistically Directed by pianist Yasuko Oura and cellist Nick Photinos, bring world-class chamber music to Chicago’s north side in an intimate, accessible setting. Nestled in the beautiful Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, the historic Bethany United Church of Christ offers an ideal setting for musicians and audiences to come together in an acoustically pleasing venue. As music director at Bethany, Yasuko saw firsthand the enthusiasm that the local community and congregation shared for high quality classical music. Both Yasuko and Nick also saw the desire of top musicians in Chicago to have an outlet to play chamber music together. These musicians include Grammy-winning artists, members of the Chicago Symphony, and alumni of prestigious schools including the Juilliard School, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Curtis Institute of Music. Chamber Music at Bethany brings them together to offer exceptional live classical music to all.


BETHANY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

Open-minded, wholehearted, hands-on faith

Bethany is a traditional church rooted in progressive Christianity. We are committed to serving in the name of justice, caring for one another, beauty and creativity (in worship and beyond), and being a safe space which is proudly inclusive and intentionally multigenerational.


Our worship services include scripture and poetry; sermons that are narrative and engaging; and music that includes familiar hymns, folk music, chants, world Christian music, and, of course, classical music led by some of Chicago’s best artists. We pass the peace and have Communion (usually once a month) where all people, including children, are most definitely welcome. 


We have Sunday School on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, nursery care every Sunday, and children are always welcome in worship, too. 
Visit us at bethanychicago.com


CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTORS

Yasuko Oura is an accomplished pianist who has been praised for her sensibility and passion for collaborating with others. She is currently a lecturer of collaborative piano at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, as well as on the faculty at North Park University. Additionally, she has been on the music staff for Des Moines Metro Opera for the past eight years.  She has worked with many prominent conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis, Stephen Lord, and Jane Glover. She was the principal production pianist and coach for Florentine Opera for seven years.  Her other past affiliations include companies such as Fort Worth Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera, Toledo Opera, and AIMS in Graz, Austria.  Active as a recitalist, she has performed with singers such as Susanne Mentzer, Susanna Phillips, and Emily Birsan as well as performances for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, the Bel Canto Foundation, WFMT, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.  She resides in Chicago, where she works with Grant Park Orchestra Chorus, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, Light Opera Works, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School, where she was a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow.

Nick Photinos, cellist, is a founding member and co-Artistic Director of the four-time Grammy Award-winning chamber music ensemble Eighth Blackbird. Formed in 1996, the group performs 50-60 concerts annually throughout the world and has been featured at the 2013 Grammy Awards, on CBS’s Sunday Morning, Bloomberg TV, and frequently in the New York Times. They were Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year for 2017 and recipients of the inaugural Chamber Music America Visionary Award in 2016. In June 2017 Eighth Blackbird launched the annual Blackbird Creative Lab, a tuition-, room- and board- free chamber music festival. The ensemble currently holds an ongoing Ensemble-in-Residence position at the University of Richmond. As a solo artist, Nick has performed and recorded with rock stars Björk, Wilco, Autumn Defense; jazz artists including Sheila Jordan, Laurence Hobgood, Zach Brock, and Matt Ulery; and has been a member of the Canton and Columbus Symphony Orchestras and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. He teaches at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival every July in North Adams, MA. He has recorded for numerous labels including the Cedille, Nonesuch, Greenleaf, and Naxos labels. His debut solo album, Petits Artéfacts, was released on the New Amsterdam label in Fall 2017.  For more information, go to nickphotinos.com