The Amadeus Consort          aka   "The Chicago String Consort" ***

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Our Musicians:

The ensemble began in the early 1990s with members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and graduates of both the Norhtwestern University School of Music (now the Beinen School of Music) and the Juilliard School.

Today musicians of the Amadeus Consort are all well seasoned and highly respected professional musicians who have either won positions in or perform regularly with other prominent orchestras and musical institutions such as Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Lyric Opera, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, the Lake Forest Symphony, Ars Viva, the Grant Park Symphony and the Music Institute of Chicago.


Bernardo Arias ~ Violin

Bernardo Arias is currently a regular substitute violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  and performs with Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He is also Co-Concertmaster of Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra (a position he shares with his wife Whun Kim), Principal Second Violin of Rockford Symphony Orchestra and former Associate Concertmaster of the Northwest Indiana Symphony. In addition, he teaches at Merit School of Music and Elgin Community College . Mr. Arias received his bachelors and masters degrees from The Juilliard School where studied with Margaret Pardee and Joseph Fuchs.  He also studied with Dr. Myron Kartman at Northwestern University and Mark Zinger at DePaul University

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Carmen Llop-Kassinger  ~  Violin

Carmen is a regular performer with the Lake Forest Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta and the Joffrey Ballet.  She has also been a member of the Sarasota Opera (for ten years), the Charleston Symphony and the New World Symphony. Carmen has  recorded with Mannheim Steamroller and has been concertmaster for Elton John's Aida and Mel Brook's The Producers.  She holds a degree in violin performance from the University of Miami

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Rika Seko  ~  Violin

Ms. Seko  is currently the a member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, concertmaster of the Elmhurst (Illinois) Symphony,  assistant concertmaster of the Peninsula Music Festival (Wisconsin) and performs as a free lancer with numerous ensembles including the Lyric Opera of Chicago and  Ars Viva.  She spent three seasons playing with the Bogotá Philharmonic and three more years with the Colombia Symphony Orchestra. Rika has been a soloist with the Peninsula Music Festival  and is a graduate of Tokyo University of Art.

Sheila Hanford ~ Violin

Ms. Hanford  currently pursues a career as a free-lance violinist and teacher in the Chicago area.  She has performed with the Chicago Philharmonic, the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra .  Sheila has also been a participant of the Washington Island Music Festival and is currently on the faculty of the Birch Creek Music Festival, both in Door County, Wisconsin.  She is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Music with a degree in Violin Performance.

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Ken Mine  ~  Violin

Ken Mine played for five seasons with the Philharmonia Hungarica  and was assistant principal second violin with the Hong Kong Philharmonic for several years prior to that. Today he is an active free lance musician and spends a great deal of time playing and teaching his other life passion, golf. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music (Bachelor of Music) and the Northwestern University School of Music (Master of Music).  

Kamen Vachev ~ Violin

Kamen Vachev studied at the Music Academy of Bulgaria, won First Prize and Special Diploma from the Bulgarian National Competition for Chamber Music and performed for four seasons with the Sofia Philharmonic. He has since received his masters of music from Northwestern University and has performed with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra and the Woodstock Mozart Festival.  Currently Mr. Vachev plays the Illinois Philharmonic and is Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Northwest Indiana Symphony. He has also taught violin at Valparaiso University and the Birch Creek Music Festival and currently teaches at the both the Northwest Indiana Suzuki School and at the Hinsdale Center for the Arts.

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Robert Fisher  ~  Viola

Mr. Fisher  has been a member of both the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Northwest Indiana Symphony and is currently a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta. He is also on the faculty of Chicago's Merit School of Music.  Robert  received his Bachelor of Music from Illinois State University,  graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music  with both a Master of Music and a Graduate Diploma,  and  also graduated from the Northwestern University School of Music  with a Certificate of Performance. 

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Chuck Bontrager ~ Violin and Viola

Chuck Bontrager graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelors degree in both violin and viola, and earned a Masters in Violin Performance from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati . He currently plays with the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Joffrey Ballet, the Lake Forest Symphony, the Northwest Indiana Symphony and Fulcrum Point New Music Project. Mr. Bontrager also teaches at the Merit School of Music and has played in several orchestras for the Broadway in Chicago series.

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Clara Takarabe ~ Violin and Viola

University of Chicago educated violist Clara Takarabe, has extensive performing experience both in the US and abroad. Ms. Takarabe has performed with Joffrey Ballet , Berlin Sinfonie Orchester, Contemporary Chamber Players, MusicNow, Present Music and the Lipatti Quartet.  In addition, she has both performed and recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago and  Milwaukee Symphony. Additional recording credits include SoundStage (WTTW) with Lyle Lovett, Randy Neumann, Celine Dion, Enrique Iglesias, Peter Cetera, Yolanda Adams, Nick Carter and Al Jarreau.

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Mark Lekas ~ Violoncello (cello)

Mr. Lekas was a member of the Columbus Symphony, the New World Symphony and the Salem String Quartet. He currently performs with the Northwest Indiana Symphony (as principal), the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Lake Forest Symphony, the Woodstock Mozart Festival and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra . In addition he is a regular substitute cellist for the Chicago and Milwaukee Symphonies. He has performed many times on WFMT's Live from Studio One series and is an active studio recording artist. 

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Michael Fitzpatrick  ~  Violoncello (cello)

Mr. Fitzpatrick  has been principal cello of the Spoleto Festival USA and the Festival dei due Mondi (Spoleto, Italy) where he was the recipient of the Prince Charles Award, bestowed by the Prince of Wales,  for his outstanding musicianship. He has performed for The Parliament of World Religions  in Barcelona, at the Royal Palace for King Abdullah II of Jordan, and for the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit of Religious & Spiritual Leaders.  Michael is the executive producer and cellist of the World Music CD title "Compassion" and is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Music.

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John Tuck  ~ 
Double Bass and Violoncello

Mr. Tuck  is a member of both the Lake Forest Symphony,  assistant principal bass of the Northwest Indiana Symphony and assistant principal bass of the Des Moines Metro Opera. He has  performed with the Chicago Symphony,  Saint Louis Symphony,  Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra,  Ars Viva, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, Northlight Theater, Mannheim Steamroller and the Three Tenors.  He has also participated in the Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Festival dei due Mondi (in Spoleto, Italy) and the Woodstock Mozart Festival.  John received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Northwestern University School of Music and currently is on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago. ... For more info click here.



 Our Roster


Sheila Hanford
Bernardo Arias
Rika Seko
Carmen Llop-Kassinger
Kamen Vachev
Ken Mine

Violin & Viola

Clara Takarabe
Chuck Bontrager
Robert Fisher


Mark Lekas
Michael Fitzpatrick

Bass (Violone)

John Tuck