About Us

chamber music at bethany

Co-Artistically Directed by pianist Yasuko Oura and cellist Nick Photinos, Chamber Music at Bethany brings 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.


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


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.

Four-time Grammy Award-winning cellist Nick Photinos is one of the most innovative and multifaceted cellists of our time. Described as a “commanding soloist” (ClevelandClassical.com) whose “virtuoso cello playing is scintillating” (Chicago Classical Review) and “outstanding for his exquisite precision” (SFCV.org), Photinos has collaborated and toured with an astounding array of artists including rock/pop artists Björk, Wilco, Bryce Dessner, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, film composer Gustavo Santaolalla, classical artists Dawn Upshaw, Philip Glass, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and jazz artists including Sheila Jordan, Laurence Hobgood, Zach Brock, and Matt Ulery. He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras including the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Toronto, Utah, and Atlanta Symphonies, the last with whom he recorded Jennifer Higdon’s On a Wire. He has performed across the globe including the Sydney Opera House, the Barbican in London, KBC Hall in Seoul, Carnegie Hall in New York City, Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver. In 2019 he reached millions of listeners on “Live from Here” with Chris Thile and on Netflix’s original movie The Two Popes. For 24 years he served as the founding cellist of Eighth Blackbird. Photinos’ numerous recordings span the Cedille, Nonesuch, New Amsterdam, Greenleaf, and Naxos labels. He recorded for Wilco on their Grammy-nominated album The Whole Love, and with Autumn Defense on their album Once Around. His debut solo album, Petits Artéfacts, “a bold solo debut from one of the most notable artists in contemporary music today” (PopMatters), was released on the New Amsterdam label in 2017. Nick is currently on the faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College, the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, the Chosen Vale International Cello Seminar, and performs in the Grossman Ensemble at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition. For more information, go to nickphotinos.com.