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With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra will be offering two special events for Cupid's holiday.

Keyboard music will be in the spotlight when NISO presents its "Valentine's Piano" concert on Feb. 9 at The Auditorium at Bethel Church in Crown Point. Kirk Muspratt leads the orchestra in concert as the symphony's music director and conductor.

Then on Feb. 17, the orchestra presents its gala "A Concert with Courses" at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster.

"The Valentine's concerts are always popular," said Tricia Hernandez, director of marketing and development for Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. Hernandez said whether guests are attending the concert with a spouse, significant other, friend or family member, the Valentine's concert brings everyone together for an evening of good music.

"And our piano concerts are always some of the most popular shows as well," she added. Starring on the "Valentine's Concert" roster will be pianist Wael Farouk.

"Wael is returning to us and will perform the 'Emperor Concerto,' by Beethoven," Hernandez said. "That was Beethoven's last piano concerto."

Hernandez said the orchestra will also perform Rachmaninoff's "2nd Symphony." She said this particular symphony "sealed Rachmaninoff's profession" due to its success. A pre-concert lecture at 6:15 p.m. by Maestro Muspratt will also be featured.

The fundraiser planned for Feb. 17, Hernandez said, has great significance.

"It's an all-new concept for us," Hernandez said about "A Concert with Courses" gala. "It's also our largest fundraiser."

"We were looking for something different and fun and that would include music," said Hernandez, about the fundraiser.

The gala, which is usually held in the fall, benefits the symphony's music and education programs. The event combines music and cuisine.

Hernandez said members of the orchestra will perform a variety of musical selections from pops and classical to jazz-inspired, percussive and other tunes as people dine on cuisine prepared by Chef Joe Trama and his catering team. A cocktail hour and silent auction also will be featured. Members of the Youth Orchestra will also perform during the cocktail hour.

FYI: "Valentine's Piano" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at The Auditorium at Bethel Church, 10202 Broadway, Crown Point. Tickets range from $25 to $65. A pre-concert lecture starts at 6:15 p.m.

"A Concert with Courses" gala will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. A cocktail hour, silent auction, a meal and musical performances will star. Gala package is $165 per person. Proceeds benefit  music and education programs, including the Education Concert, Youth Orchestra, Young People's Competition and the Symphony Chorus. For information and tickets on both the "Valentine's Concert" and a "Concert with Courses" gala, call 219-836-0525 or visit


Features reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.