Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center and Rockford College celebrate anniversary, musical legacy of Eleanor Stanlis

Eleanor Stanlis, founder of the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra and the Music Academy of Rockford

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra and Music Academy of Rockford College have joined forces to host a world-class showcase of music Friday, March 12, at Court Street United Methodist Church. The event also will honor the musical legacy of Eleanor Stanlis and include performances by two renowned violinists who will join Academy members. All musicians have Rockford ties.

Eleanor Stanlis founded the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra and the Music Academy of Rockford.

Margaret Batjer, daughter of Eleanor Stanlis, is a violinist and concert master of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, a position she’s held since 1998. She’s been a soloist throughout Europe, making several prestigious stops such as performances at the La Scala Theatre and the Naples and Cremona festivals. Batjer also was a member the famous Accardo Quartet.

A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Batjer has recorded and performed with some of the biggest names in music. Her work with Salvatore Accardo, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Yo-Yo Ma is known around the world. The former student of Ivan Galamian and David Cerone has made numerous recordings for EMI, Nuova Era and BMG labels. Batjer teaches at the USC Thornton School of Music.

Batjer was attending Eisenhower Middle School when she was chosen to solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Violinist Shelby Latin Harris was a student at the Music Academy for 17 years. Before earning degrees from Indiana University Conservatory of Music, she studied with Eleanor Stanlis. Latin Harris is an Auburn High School graduate.

Measure 5 is an advanced touring and performing ensemble composed of 20 string and piano students (ages 13 to 18). Aside from collaborations with the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra March 12, Measure 5 will perform several pieces on its own and with the flute choir of the Music Academy of Rockford College, led by Stephanie Pedretti. Measure 5 will perform “Suite for the Sweets” with the flute choir.

Measure 5 is directed by Rachel Handlin. Handlin is a concert master of the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, assistant concert master of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and directs the string program for the Music Academy.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. Show starts at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 12. Court Street United Methodist Church is at 215 N. Court St., downtown Rockford. Tickets are available by calling (815) 964- 9713 or visiting

From the Mar. 3-9, 2010 issue

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