Neah-Kah-Nie Project String Quartet | The Age of Innocence: Music for String Quartet by Ferdinand Sorenson

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The Age of Innocence: Music for String Quartet by Ferdinand Sorenson

by Neah-Kah-Nie Project String Quartet

Lite classical music for string quartet reminiscent of Fritz Kreisler, Stephen Foster and Franz Schubert
Genre: Classical: String Quartet
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Tango in G Minor
5:11 $0.99
2. A Jovial Jaunt in F Major
2:59 $0.99
3. Meditation in F Major
4:05 $0.99
4. Scherzo in D Major
3:06 $0.99
5. Minuet in G Major
4:41 $0.99
6. Oriental in E Minor
5:19 $0.99
7. Gavotte in D Major
2:52 $0.99
8. Hokus Pokus in C Major
2:56 $0.99
9. Rainbow Caprice in D Major
2:19 $0.99
10. Suifu in D Minor
3:47 $0.99
11. Tarantella in D Minor
4:12 $0.99
12. Waltz No. 10 Chopin in Paris
2:02 $0.99
13. Waltz No. 22 A Ballet of the Fairies
1:54 $0.99
14. Tango No. 1 Witches Bacchanalia
2:29 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
What is below?

A ---- String quartet sheet music available for selected pieces on the CD.

B ---- The players of the Neah-Kah-Nie Project String Quartet

C ---- A history of the composer Ferdinand Sorenson

D ---- A history of Susie Fennel Pipes and the original Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet

E ---- A little bit about the composer of the three bonus tracks Dana Carlile

A ---- Send and e-mail to for information about string quartet
sheet music of the pieces composed by Ferdinand Sorenson and Dana Carlile on the CD.

The piece currently available are:

A Jovial Jaunt in F Major
Hokus Pokus, Blues Boogie in C Major
Meditation in F Major
Scherzo in D Major
Minuet in G Major
Gavotte in D Major
Waltz No.10 in C Minor Chopin in Paris
Tango No. 1 in G Minor Witches Bacchanalia

B ---- The Neah-Kah-Nie Project String Quartet

Violist Erin Furbee joined the Oregon Symphony as Assistant Concertmaster in 2001. Prior to her arrival in Portland, she was a member of the Colorado Symphony for eight years, and she also played with the Milwaukee Symphony for a season. Originally from Chicago, Erin attended the University of Michigan, received her bachelor’s degree in music from the Shepherd School of Music ( Rice University) and did her graduate work at the University of Minnesota. Her main teachers have been Camilla Wicks, Raphael Fliegal, Jacob Krachmalnick and Roland and Almita Vamos. She has performed as a soloist with the Oregon Symphony, the Colorado Symphony and the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestras.

Violinist Julie Coleman began playing with the Oregon Symphony in 1993. Born in Newberg, Ore., she returned to the Northwest after attending The Julliard School. She is currently Adjunct Professor of Violin at Portland State University, a position she has held since 1999. Julie has toured internationally with the American Sinfonietta and also with the San Diego-based Mainly Mozart Orchestra. This summer will mark her third year with the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, where she has also appeared with colleagues on a chamber music series at Walk Festival Hall. Previous festivals include the Bellingham Festival in Washington State, Cascade Music Festival and Aspen Music Festival and School. As soloist, Julie has appeared with the Oregon Symphony, Chico Symphony ( Calif.), Aspen Young Artist Orchestra and Portland Youth Philharmonic, among others. An alumnus of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Julie was invited to sit concertmaster of the PYP Alumni Orchestra. Other engagements as concertmaster include the Columbia and Yaquina Symphony Orchestras.

Violist Brain Quincey is a mysterious person of which very little reliable information can be obtained.

Cellist Trevor Fitzpatrick joined the Oregon Symphony in fall 2005 after earning a master’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Before coming to Portland, Trevor also played with the New World Symphony in Florida, the Canton Symphony in Ohio and the Regina Symphony in Canada.

C ---- A Musical Biography of Ferdinand Sorenson and his family
Copyright 2007 by Dana Carlile

Ferdinand Sorenson was born in Grenaa, Denmark in 1882 and the next year his father Lars, mother Matilda, and sister Minnie left for America. Eight other of brothers and sisters had already traveled to Utah several years earlier.

Lars began teaching Ferdinand the violin when the boy was five years old. By 8 Ferdinand was playing in public with his father. At an early age Ferdinand not only played the violin but also brass instruments to join in family and community orchestras. They would put a band together and go, as he said, “barnstorming around the countryside.” In 1896 Ferdinand and his older brother Antone played in the band that welcomed the Denver & Rio Grande railroad’s first passenger train to Elsinore, Utah.

It was Ferdinand’s sister Minnie’s career in vaudeville which suggested to Ferdinand that he might make a career out of music. Her tours included performing in Utah where the young Ferdinand got to see his sister perform in the Elsinore Opera House. Ferdinand collected photos of his sister as she toured around the United States.

When Ferdinand went to Salt Lake City in 1898 he continued his violin studies with Willard Weihe. Weihe had been a pupil of the violinists Ole Bull, Henri Vieuxtemps and Joseph Joachim. He was one of the founders of the Salt Lake City Bohemian Club, Salt Lake City Opera and was also concert master of the Salt Lake Symphony. Weihe was also the violinist of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was in Salt Lake City Ferdinand played in his first symphony and opera orchestras. Besides Weihe, Ferdinand also took violin lesson from Leroy Von Gesner and Mose Christenen who became his life long friend and mentor. He probable played in of the Christensen orchestras in Salt Lake, Ogden or at Saltair or the Castilla Hot Springs resorts.

In 1901 Ferdinand found work with Mose Christensen in Boise, Idaho. It was there that Ferdinand took up the cello to play in the Christensen string quartet. He continued playing violin, viola, trombone and euphonium but the cello would be the instrument he would play in orchestras in New York, Boise, Spokane and Portland. 12 years older than Ferdinand, Mose Christensen was born in 1871 in Salt Lake City. Like Ferdinand, Mose studied the violin first with his father and then with Willard Weihe in Salt Lake. Latter he studied with the German violinist Henry Schradieck on the East coast and played in Schradieck‘s Eutrepe Symphony Society.

Mose Christensen and his group of musicians in Idaho thought Ferdinand so talented that they helped him in 1905 to collect enough money to travel to Europe to study. Ferdinand headed east intending to study the cello with Julius Klengel in Leipzig, Germany. The train was reputedly delayed by a tornado and he missed the boat to Europe. He stayed in New York and studied cello with the Frenchman, William Ebann, at the New York College of Music. Eban taught out of studios above Carnegie Hall. Ferdinand earned his living in theater and restaurant orchestras and played in the orchestras of Alfred Volpe and Walter or Frank Damrosch.

While in New York Ferdinand earned his living by working in restaurant and theater orchestras such as the Schubert theaters where he worked in shows staring Nazimova and David Warfield. Early on Ferdinand had to keep his theater jobs a secret from his teacher because Ebann wanted Ferdinand playing only open strings on the cello for many weeks to improve his tone. During the summer he would work at Lake Placid resorts such as the Grand View Hotel.

On returning to the West in 1908, Ferdinand played briefly in the Boise Philharmonic under Mose Christensen's direction. He moved to Portland, Oregon with Mose and Mose's family and lived with them above the dancing academy Mose built at 11th and Yamhill. Mose and Ferdinand both played in the Portland Symphony under David Rosebrook in 1909, where Ferdinand was briefly principal cellist. Ferdinand also assisted Ernest Spitzner in the Spitzner Youth Orchestra. Ferdinand did not stay in Portland long enough to help Mose and his musical colleagues re-organize the Portland Symphony Orchestra in 1911. In Brigham City Ferdinand had met May Jensen, married in 1909 and moved to Spokane, Washington in 1910.

For 14 years Ferdinand settled in Spokane where he started his musical family with three sons: Hubert, Richard and Mayo. Ferdinand wanted a family of musicians. Learning music from his father Lars had turned out to be both pleasurable and profitable for Ferdinand. He assumed it would be the same for his children and he wanted his own family sting quartet. His first job in Spokane was in the Silver Grill Orchestra at the Hotel Spokane.

Ferdinand taught music, dancing and conducted the Auditorium Theater orchestra for eight years, which reputedly had the largest stage in the United States at the time. Besides playing in the Spokane Symphony he also played in the Gesner-Sorenson String Quartet, the Gottfried Herbst String Quartet and the Spokane Citizen's Band. In 1922 he toured around Canada with the Chuck Whitehead Orchestra, the same year that the Spokane Symphony conducted by Leonardo Brill performed Ferdinand’s “The American Desert” for string orchestra at the American Theater.

In 1919, Chuck Whitehead, originally from Ogden, Utah built his dance hall in Spokane at 333 Sprague Avenue. It was in the Whitehead Dancing Palace that Ferdinand started his dancing school after having graduated from Mose's Christensen school in Portland. Ferdinand study ballet with Stefano Mascagno at the American National Association Masters of Dancing normal schools organized by Mose. In 1923, while Ferdinand had his dancing school at the Whitehead Dancing Palace, Mineralava Beauty Clay sponsored a tango performance by Rudolf Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova, born Winifred Kimball-Shaughnessy and great granddaughter of Mormon Apostle Heber C. Kimball.

Teaching music, the dancing school, playing in and conducting theater orchestras in Spokane was not enough for Ferdinand and his growing family of musicians. In 1924 there were still only 20 or so theaters in Spokane, the same as when Ferdinand arrived in 1910. In the port city of Portland, Oregon the number of theaters went from less than 20 to 50. Ferdinand, after considering several west coast cities, thought he and his sons would have a better chance getting playing jobs in Portland and moved back to Portland, Oregon in 1924. He had bought property there in 1910, before he had left for Spokane, and on his return to Portland had his Webster street home built.

Ferdinand spent the rest of his life in Portland except when he was traveling around the country visiting family and former students. In Portland, Ferdinand began playing in the Portland Symphony again. Conductor Willem van Hoogstraten had replaced the recently deceased Theodore Spiering after he replaced Carl Denton. The pieces by Ferdinand on the CD were probably composed by him during the late during the 1930s when he was a member of the Oregon Composers Guild.

Other groups Ferdinand played with were the Ashley Cook Band, the McDougall Concert Band, the Ted Bacon String Orchestra and the Gershkovitch Symphony Orchestra. Ferdinand played in the Kelly’s Kaballeros when Joe Srodka was the leader. He also played in the KGW, KOIN and other radio orchestras over the years. Ferdinand and his sons continued playing with Chuck Whitehead’s Orchestra at the People`s and Rivoli theaters. Ferdinand also conducted the Woodmen of the World Junior Orchestra, the Sorenson Concert Orchestra and the Inter-Community Orchestra in Longview, Washington.

In 1929, restaurants, dance halls and the 50 some theaters in Portland, Oregon employed nearly 3,000 musicians. Theaters such as the Mayfair (old Heilig), Rivoli, Majestic, Orpheum and Hippodrome employed orchestras six days a week. Some of these orchestras had up to 40 pieces. Talking pictures, radio, recorded music and the Great Depression brought down the curtain on this world of vaudeville and cinema orchestras. When this happened Ferdinand had to make a living more from of teaching than playing music.

Ferdinand lamented the decline of live music performance as a living not on only for himself but his four sons. He had thought music would be as good a career for all of them as it had been for him when he was young. May, his wife, thought he would have made more money if had kept to teaching dancing like Mose Christensen

After Mose Christensen had died in 1920 the Christensen Dance Studio continued on under Mose’s wife Carrie Christensen and his son Victor. Carrier had taken her prodigy son Victor to study violin with Oscar Back in Brussels before World War I when he was still a child. During the war he studied with Leopold Lichtenberg in New York. After a brief career with the Seattle Symphony he returned after his father’s death to help his mother run the family dance studio. Ferdinand’s son Dick and daughter Dorothy took ballroom dance lessons from Victor. In the early 1930s Mose Christensen’s nephew William Christensen joined Carrie and Victor at the Christensen Studio to teach ballet. Ferdinand provided his family’s musical services at some of William Christensen’s ballet events in exchange for his daughter Dorothy’s ballet lessons with William.

Ferdinand conducted his own orchestra when Clement Crouse presented a ballet by William Christensen at Tigard High School. William, in turn, would come and dance with his students at Ferdinand’s events. Ferdinand’s young daughter Dorothy was one of the evening nymphs in William Christensen’s presentation of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” for the Portland Rose Festival Queen in 1933. William choreographed Ferdinand's "Tarantella" for sting quartet and danced it with Natalie Lauterstein. William also presented his ballet interpretation of Ferdinand's "Gavotte" for sting quartet in 1933. In 1937 William Christensen left Portland with the best of his troupe of dancers to audition for the San Francisco Opera Ballet and ended up running it by 1938.

While Ferdinand played in many symphony orchestras it was not something he liked to do: “I don’t care to play in orchestras. It’s noisy. Playing in a section, there is no individuality with many people all playing the same part, I enjoy string quartets. It’s the highest form of music.” When, in 1947, the Portland Symphony started again after an eight year hiatus, Werner Janssen, the new conductor, required old symphony members to re-audition. Ferdinand and clarinetist Owen Sanders were some of the old-timers that refused to re-audition. Still Ferdinand was offered the position of principal cellist. But he turned it down, as he said "concerts aren't bad but rehearsals are death." Playing popular music had a price as well. An orchestra leader wanted younger looking musicians and Ferdinand had to dye his gray hair to keep his job.


Hubert Sorenson started playing professionally at age 12 with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. Hubert and Richard both played in the Portland Junior Symphony and briefly with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, frequently at the same time. And they played together in the Sorenson-Howard Trio with their sister Dorothy’s piano teacher, Randolph Howard. Hubert was working professionally for Chuck Whitehead at 15, playing trumpet and violin, the same time he was playing violin in the Portland Junior Symphony. Hubert joined Alexander Vdovin, Ferdinand Konrad and Susie Fennell-Pipes in the Portland Chamber Music Quartet. The quartet was renamed the Neah-Kah-Nie Quartet after Michel Penha had replaced Ferdinand Konrad and they had spent the summer of 1930 rehearsing at Neah-Kah-Nie on the Oregon Coast.

Susie Fennell-Pipes founded the Neah-Kah-Nie Quartet and the Portland Chamber Music Society. She had taught violin at the University of Oregon when she was still 18 and then went to Germany to study with Joseph Joachim and Joachim’s star student Theodore Spiering in 1905. The violist Alexander Vdovin like Albert Volpe was a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music and was later replaced by Abraham Weiss. Michel Penha was originally from Holland and had been principal cellist with the Philadelphia Philharmonic for five years and latter the San Francisco Symphony before arriving in Portland.

Latter, when Hubert moved to California, he joined Abraham Weiss, Flori Gough, Karl Rossner and Nathan Abas in the Abas Quartet. Hubert worked in both classical and popular music playing violin, clarinet, saxophone, and then the viola in the San Francisco Symphony, Opera and Ballet Orchestras. He had to give up the trumpet from his Chuck Whitehead Orchestra days and the flute because he said he just did not have the time to keep up practicing so many instruments. He played casual jobs in the NBC Radio Orchestra, Jan Garber Band and numerous other popular music groups.


After leaving Portland, the Portland Symphony and the Sorenson-Howard Trio, Richard Sorenson shipped out of San Francisco on boats of the Dollar Steamship Line, American Presidents Line and the Matson Line. Richard played violin, cello, clarinet and sax in the ship orchestras. In 1935, on the Dollar Line’s SS Van Buren, he worked a trip around the world with his friends from Portland: Earl Scott (trumpet), Norman Easley (sax & violin) and Wilsom Brons (piano).

Because Richard doubled on the rare combination of sax and cello he had to resist an offer to jump ship for a job in New York: competing in a city with 15,000 other musicians (many of them unemployed) seemed risky in the middle of the Great Depression. The ship orchestra jobs weren't much of a living though. Ferdinand and Richard's older brother Hubert had to send him money: sometimes on the other side of the world. Richard said of ship orchestra pay that only the Chinese workers on board were paid less.

On occasion Richard was joined by his brother Hubert. When he came back from his first playing job on the SS Monterey, Hubert voiced one of his common refrains: "never again". Richard was on the Matson’s SS Lurline when it left Honolulu, Hawaii on December 5th 1941. In spite of his high blood pressure Richard ended up in the Army during World War II playing in army bands in Arkansas. After the war he played with the Monty Brooks Band before he died in1948.


Ferdinand’s third son, Mayo, played in the Jefferson High School Band. While still in high school Mayo developed epilepsy after having suffered a sever fever several years before. The family thought forestry at Oregon State University would provide better opportunities for a career given his condition and given the poor prospects for anyone in the music business after 1929. While at OSU he played in the ROTC band. Forestry at Oregon State lasted only one year. Mayo transferred to the University of Oregon to major in music. Earl Scott and Norm Easley joined Mayo there having finished their round-the-world cruise with Dick and Willie Brons on the SS President Van Buren.

While at the University of Oregon, Mayo lived in and played at the Eugene Hotel. Mayo also played with the Top Hat dance band, the university orchestra (occasionally as a soloist) and with the U of O marching band. Mayo also took up the baton, like his father, directing high school bands and university ensembles. After graduating he taught at the university for a year. Besides flute and violin, Mayo played two instruments occasionally disdained by his father: the saxophone and the piano. When Mayo returned to live in Portland he played in the KGW radio orchestra and the KOIN radio orchestra under Joe Sampietro. He also played in bands at the Jantzen Beach Ballroom, the Uptown Dance Hall and the Capitol Theater before he died in 1942.


Quinten Sorenson, who went by "Pete", played in the Jefferson High School Band like his brother Mayo and then with Chuck Whitehead like his father and brother Hubert. Pete started playing in the Woody Hite Band when he was still at Jefferson High School. Woody Hite and his Guardsmen played at McElroy’s Spanish Ballroom, the Uptown Ballroom and numerous other Portland and Oregon venues such as the University of Oregon and Oregon State college campuses. Pete had perfect pitch like his dad and all his brothers. As soon as he walked into a theater he new what key a band was playing in. Pete was happy to leave the reputedly moody Chuck Whitehead and continue playing with Woody Hite when the band joined the union and went professional in 1940.

During World War II Pete played in US Army dance, concert and marching bands at Fort Lawton in Seattle, Washington and the Allied base at Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Pete preferred popular swing music. Regarding four army bands combined to form a mass band: "If there is anything worse than one legit band it would be four." Regarding audience discrimination: "They still hear with their eyes and not their ears." And the benefits of trumpets: “The trumpet is good for one thing though. It’s a fine way to escape from the Army. At least it something they can't tell me how to do."

Ferdinand's Teaching and Latter Years

With Ferdinand's numerous string and brass students and extensive teaching experience he was able to assist Mary Dodge, Jacques Gershkovitch and others develop the Portland Junior Symphony. Besides his private string and brass students Ferdinand taught, over the years, as an adjunct professor at Pacific University, Lewis and Clark College, Portland University, the University of Oregon and Portland State College. He conducted the student orchestra at Marylhurst College for Women and the student band at Pacific University. In the late 50’s when Raphael Spiro, arrived from Chicago and started a string quartet the three other players he asked to join him, Leonard Stehn, Sammy Piazza and Pat Miller, were all Ferdinand’s students.

Ferdinand did not exempt himself from his high standards, practicing 4 to 5 hours a day himself. Some of this practicing would take place during symphony rehearsals: he would practice scales during double forte sections for the brass when the cellos had nothing to play. He was practicing to the end: in his last letter to his daughter before his stroke he said: “The day one stops practicing is the day one begins sliding downhill.”

In latter years, until he lost his drivers license, Ferdinand would take his violin and a concerto to study as he traveled incommunicado in his Nash automobile around the West. When he wasn’t staying with family and former students he would camp out in parks and stay in the “Ambassador Suite of the Nash Hotel.” Ferdinand would take his violin out in places like Kaibab National Forest to play for himself and the mountains, reliving his days as a shepherd serenading his flock when he was a youth in Utah.

Ferdinand was still teaching privately and at Portland State College when he had a stroke in 1966. Though unable to speak normally he still played the violin and would go from room to room at the convalescence home serenading his fellow patients. He died a few months later in December 1966 at the age of 84. Ferdinand was survived only by his son Hubert and his daughter Dorothy.


Interviews with, and reminisces of Dorothy Sorenson Carlile, Peter Sorenson, Marion Fouse, Glenn Reeves, Patricia Miller, Robert Findley, Leonard Stehn, and Herman Jobelmann.

D ---- Susie Fennell Pipes and the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet
Copyright 2008 by Dana Carlile


Susie Fennell was 15 when the first professional string quartet in America performed in Portland, Oregon. The Kneisel string quartet came in the year 1898 and was soon followed by the Spiering string quartet. 30 years latter Susie formed the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet. Started at the onset of the Great Depression, the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet lasted only three years. Still it was one of Oregon’s first significant music exports. Something of a prodigy, Susie’s musical vocation began in Illinois and Oregon and took her around the world as one of the foremost chamber musicians and impresarios of her day. Susie was one of Portland society’s most colorful and accomplished personalities. Like the string quartets of Franz Kneisel and Theodore Spiering, Susie Fennell Pipes and her Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet are forgotten now. Only fragments remain of Susie’s life and career and that of her Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet.

Before the Quartet

Thomas and Julia Fennell’s daughter Susie was born in Chicago on June 23, 1883. In 1894, a year after the Chicago Worlds Fair when Susie was 10, the Fennell family moved to Independence, Oregon. Her father Thomas, originally a blacksmith from Iowa, farmed hops near Independence Oregon and tended the Orville Station for the Oregon Electric Rail Line. Her grandfather Thomas Fennell Sr. had emigrated from Ireland to Iowa in 1844, a year before the Irish potato famine. Susie’s early music teachers were Ernest O. Spitzner and Carl Denton. Carl Denton was to be a future conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra and Ernest O. Spitzner was the director of the Spitzner Philharmonic Society for young musicians. Susie was 12 years old when she had her first public concert in Portland. Four years later the Musical Club of Portland began sponsoring concerts by the string quartets of Franz Kneisel and Theodore Spiering. The Boston Symphony Orchestra concert master, Austrian violinist Franz Kneisel, founded his quartet in 1886. It was the first professional string quartet to tour extensively in the United States.

In 1893, before Susie’s family left Chicago for Portland, the Spiering string quartet began an extensive period of concretizing around the United States, giving 400 concerts by 1905. Theodore Spiering would later be Susie’s most significant teacher and colleague. The Musical Club of Portland also sponsored Susie’s future partner, cellist Ferdinand Konrad in the Hidden-Coursen String Quartet in 1899. During this time Susie’s mother Julia was dying of tuberculosis. The 23 year old lawyer that was arranging her mother’s affairs was John Pipes, son of Judge Martin Pipes. By the time she was 16, Susie and John Pipes were married and made their home in Eugene, Oregon 100 miles south of Portland.

John Pipes was devoted both to his wife Susie and to her career in music. In 1900 he supported her returning to Chicago to study with Theodore Spiering and then her traveling to study in Vienna when she was still only 17. Susie’s daughter Cornelia was born in September 1901. Two years later Susie started teaching violin at the University of Oregon and continued to do so until 1905 when she took a leave of absence from the university to study with Spiering in Germany. During her six months in Berlin, Susie met Godowsky, Yasye and studied briefly with Joseph Joachim, shortly before Joachim died. She played at Spiering’s recitals and gave violin lessons to Godowsky’s son. Spiering was so impressed with Susie’s musicianship that he excused her from paying tuition. On her return voyage from Hamburg, on the steam ship Deutschland, Susie performed for a benefit sponsored by the Pittsburgh steal tycoon Charles Schwab to raise funds for widows of Germany sailors.

Theodore Spiering, though teaching at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1871. After studying with Joseph Joachim at the Royal Academy of Music in Berlin, Spiering, at 21, was concert master 21 of the Chicago Symphony under Theodore Thomas at Joachim’s recommendation. Susie’s second trip to Germany studying and performing with Spiering ended in 1909 when Gustav Mahler asked Spiering to be his concert master and assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic. Before leaving Europe Susie performed in Paris and Spiering assisted Susie in acquiring a 1776 Gigliano violin in London. On her return to Oregon, Susie and her family continued to live in Eugene and Susie returned to teaching at the University of Oregon. When John and Susie moved to Portland in 1911, John’s brother the architect Wade Pipes, recently returned from London, designed and built a home for them in Sellwood overlooking the Willamette River. The Sellwood house was Susie’s home for the rest of her life.

Susie and pianist Beatrice Dierke participated in a series of benefit concerts for the Baby’s Fresh Air Society beginning in May 1912. Funds raised provided food and transportation to a farm in Tillamook County on the Oregon coast for poor mothers and their babies that needed rest and fresh air. After these concerts Susie returned to Europe to study and perform again with Theodore Spiering until November. She then participated in the Portland Philharmonic Course at the Heilig Theater presented by Eugene Kuester. Susie was noted for playing the Mendelssohn concerto from memory like any touring virtuoso and for tuning up her violin at every pause in the music. The trio Susie started in 1913, with cellist Ferdinand Konrad and pianist James Hutchison, was Portland’s first enduring chamber music group. The trio continued on and off for 12 years. The 1914-1915 season took place in the old Museum of Art at 5th and Taylor where, for one concert, Susie performed the Bruch Violin concerto with piano accompaniment.

Susie’s life consisted of more than music and her family. She was president of the Professional Woman’s League in 1914 and 1915. Susie and her husband John hosted dancing parities at their home on Carlton street for their friends. As a response to World War I, Susie and her friends in the Alliance Francaise promoted the French language and French culture in early 1916. Susie was one of the performers in a French play presented by the Alliance Francaise in February. The Alliance Francaise sponsored a masque ball to raise funds for the assistance of French soldiers. Susie golfed, relished fishing in the Cascades and had a life long passion for gardening. In her Sellwood home Susie maintained a salon for her numerous musical and artistic friends both in Oregon and from around the world. When the weather was good the customary chamber music at these events was outside on Susie’s lawn over looking the Willamette River.

On July 5, 1916 Susie accidentally drove her automobile into another car. She was thrown from her car and drug along side, receiving a serious concussion. By 1917 she had recovered enough that she started teaching again at the University of Oregon’s Portland extension branch. At this time Theodore Spiering was teaching and conducting in New York City after being expelled from Germany at the beginning of World War I. He came to the Northwest in February 1917 to teach master classes, see his student Susie, and performed Beethoven’s Kreutzer sonata and Bach’s Chaconne for the MacDowell Club. Eight years later in March 1925, after Theodore Spiering’s appearance as a Portland Symphony Orchestra guest conductor, John and Susie Pipes had an informal dinner party for Spiering in their Sellwood home. It would be the last time Susie would see her violin teacher and mentor. While Spiering was appointed director of the Portland Symphony, a few months latter before he could take up his Portland post, Spiering died in Munich, Germany at age the of 53 .

In September 1918, after her second child Jane was born, Susie went to San Francisco to buy her 1590 Amati violin for $1,500. She began concertizing again and in May of 1919 performed the Brahms G Major Sonata with pianist James Hutchison and several compositions by Spiering’s friend Fritz Kreisler. Alwin Schroeder, formerly the cellist of the Kneisel String Quartet, asked Susie to fill Sylvian Noack’s violin position for a tour of the Schroeder Trio on the east coast in January 1920. On her return to Oregon pianist David Campbell, director of the Ellison-White Conservatory, asked Susie to be head of the violin department at the conservatory -- a post she held for five years. As Susie’s students they could receive credit at the University of Oregon Music Department. With a series of concerts in 1921, the Russian pianist Henrietta Michaelson, joined James Hutchison and David Campbell as one of Susie’s accompanist. Susie’s concerts with Michaelson and Campbell took place in Bend as well as Portland.

By 1924 Susie and her devoted women friends had organized their own chamber music society and hence forth the Pipes-Konrad-Hutchison Trio was called the Portland Chamber Music Trio. Among the trio’s venues were the Multnomah Hotel, Reed College, the old Museum of Art and the Portland Women’s Club. The trio was also broadcast by KGW radio on the Oregonian-of-the-Air program.

The trio’s pianist James Hutchison, fair haired and nearly six feet tall, was the foremost accompanist and chamber music pianist in Portland for half a century. Born and educated in England he sailed on the Empress of Ireland to Canada in 1907 when he was 36. Beside his work with Susie Pipes and many other local musicians Hutchison was the choir director and organist at the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Susie’s long time collaborator, cellist Ferdinand Konrad, was born in Iowa in 1871. He traveled to Portland, Oregon to join his father Wilhelm Konrad, also a musician and music teacher who had played viola for a time in the Spiering String Quartet. Ferdinand Konrad began his chamber music career in Portland playing in the Hidden-Coursen and Columbia String Quartet. Ferdinand was a founding member of the musicians union in Portland in 1899 and performed in a Lewis and Clark Exposition orchestra in 1905. He left Portland in 1908 to make a career playing in Chicago and toured with the Chicago Opera Orchestra but had returned by 1910. Ferdinand then joined the Beethoven String Trio and Norwegian pianist’s Alf Klingenberg’s piano trio until 1914. After the re-organization of the Portland Symphony Orchestra began at Mose Christensen’s dance hall in January 1911, Ferdinand would play for Portland orchestras for another 30 years. Performing in the Christensen String Quartet, the Portland String Quartet, the Pipes-Konrad-Hutchison Trio and the Portland Chamber Music String Quartet, Ferdinand Konrad was a corner stone of chamber music in Portland during the first half of the 20th century.

Besides their own trio, Susie’s Portland Chamber Music Society helped sponsor concerts by the Persinger, London, New York and Pro Art String Quartets. At her home in Sellwood and at the Waverly Country Club, Susie would host luncheons and diners for these musical groups. Susie also promoted the education of talented young musicians such as violinist Margaret Yost and pianist Virginia Danforth. In Portland, Susie collected funds for Virginia Danforth’s music education on the East Coast. While cellist Felix Salmond was in Portland to perform the Lalo Concerto with the Gershkovitch Symphony Orchestra in October 1925, he also performed with Susie’s Portland Chamber Music Trio. During the summer of 1927 when Arthur Loesser was in Portland to teach master classes he joined Susie and her daughter Jane at Sam Reed’s Neah-Kah-Nie Tavern where they performed together for the tavern guests. The year in California Susie spent in 1928 she organized the California Chamber Music Society and performed violin sonatas with pianist Claire Mellanino. The next year Susie finally started her own string quartet. She and Ferdinand Konrad were joined by Portland Symphony principal violist Alexander Vdovin and violinist Leo Skipton. Hubert Sorenson replaced Skipton in the Portland Chamber Music Society String Quartet in the fall of 1929.

Susie discovered violinist Hubert Sorenson after he began playing in the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Hubert had been born in Portland in 1910 but grew up in Spokane, Washington. Hubert studied with Spokane Symphony conductor Leonardo Brill and his father cellist, tombonist, theater conductor and occasional composer Ferdinand Sorenson. Ferdinand Sorenson had played in Mose Christensen’s string quartet in Boise, Idaho as well as the Gesner-Sorenson and Herbst string quartets in Spokane, Washington. Hubert played in the Spokane Symphony at the age of 12. At age 15 he played in the Portland Junior Symphony while he was also working in the Chuck Whitehead Orchestra at the Peoples Theater playing trumpet and violin. Hubert studied for two years with Peter Meremblum of the Cornish School in Seattle, Washington. Hubert was 19 when he joined the String Quartet of the Portland Chamber Music Society in 1929.

Russian violists Vdovin was born Alexander André Kuznetsov in Samara, Russia in 1895. At the St. Petersburg Imperial Conservatory of Music he studied with Nalbandian, Rezivetzoff and the great Leopold Auer until the outbreak of World War I. As an infantry lieutenant Alexander served in the Carpathian campaign and was wounded several times. By 1919 he had escaped Bolshevik Russia to join his wife and son in Vladivostok and served there briefly with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. After two years working as a musician in Shanghai and his son George being born, Alexander arrived in Seattle, Washington in 1923 and took Vdovin as his last name. Alexander was principal violist for five years in the Seattle Symphony and then held the same position in the Portland Symphony Orchestra by 1928.

This early quartet toured Oregon and Washington performing in Walla Walla, Pendleton, Baker City, Le Grande, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Roseburg, Medford and at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle. In Portland the quartet concerts were held in various locations including the homes of the business aristocracy that supported the quartet such as Robert Strong, Charles Sears and Lloyd Frank. The season ended on March 16, 1930 at the new Neighbors of Woodcraft Hall with the Mozart Quartet in D Minor and the Tchaikovsky String Sextet. Reputedly the premiere performance of the sextet in the Northwest, the quartet was assisted by the former Portland Symphony conductor, violist Harold Bayley and Hubert Sorenson’s father, cellist Ferdinand Sorenson.

The Quartet Begins

When the quartet went to rehearse at Neah-Kah-Nie on the Oregon coast in the summer of 1930, Ferdinand Konrad yielded his place to cellist Michel Penha. With his considerable experience and talent Michel Penha became the director of the quartet. The Penha family of Amsterdam, Holland had been musicians for many generations. Born in 1888 Michel Penha graduated from the Amsterdam Conservatory at 16 where he studied with Isaac Mossel. He also studied with Hugo Becker of Germany and Joseph Salmon of Paris. In New York Penha was on the faculty of the Julliard School’s precursor, the Institute of Musical Art, and played in the Tollefsen Trio for nine years. As a concert soloist Penha toured extensively in Europe, Canada and the United States with great success. Penha’s 1919 tour to South America included his conducting as well as performing. In 1920 Penha began five years as principal cellist under Leopold Stokowski in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and performed the Brahms Double Concerto, the Dvorak Cello Concerto and the Schumann Cello Concerto. Next, he was principle cellist and assistant conductor in the San Francisco Symphony under Alfred Hertz -- again performing as a soloist on numerous occasions. Penha was heard regularly in Portland on Sunday evening radio broadcasts from San Francisco as the cellist in the Abas String Quartet. Michel Penha was reputed to be one of the finest cellists in the world at the time. He was also an accomplished chef and competitive bridge enthusiast. Penha’s contract with the quartet was reported as running into five figures. The contract, and his marrying the wealthy widow of Julius Eisenbach of San Francisco, enabled Penha to purchase a Guadagnini cello from the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company for $13,000 to play in the quartet. Susie Pipes acquired a Guadagnini violin from the Wurlitzer Company’s Wanamaker Collection at the same time for the quartet’s performances.

All summer long the quartet rehearsed from six to eight hours a day at either Harry Wentz’s cottage or the Neah-Kah-Nie Tavern. By the end of the summer they had taken the name Neah-Kah-Nie for their quartet. What made this exclusive dedication to the string quartet repertory possible was a number of wealthy patrons such as Josephine Holmes and Edna Frank. Financial underwriting of all costs the first season was conditional on the members not teaching or playing any other engagements. Michel Penha was apparently exempt form this restriction. He played Eugene d’Albert’s cello concerto with the Portland Symphony Orchestra in November 1930. The next month pianist James Hutchison accompanied Penha in a chamber recital at the Little Theater in the Studio Building.

The Portland Chamber Music Society was far from the being the first or the only group promoting chamber music in Portland. The Philharmonic Society, the Oregon Road Club, the Beaux Arts Club, the Portland Musical Club, the MacDowell Club, the Monday Musical Club, and the Franco-American Musical Society (latter renamed Pro-Musica) all promoted chamber music. Local artist such as pianist Abby Whiteside, violinist Frank Eichenlaub, Ernest O. Spitzner, Mose Christensen, pianist-composer Dent Mowery and other music teachers, as well as Susie, promoted their own chamber music recitals. The Portland and Multnomah Hotels, the Neighbors of Woodcraft, Christensen and Pythian Halls, and the Little Theater in the Studio Building were common venues for these small recitals. In the larger Heilig Theater on Broadway and the Municipal Auditorium at 3rd and Clay, promoters such as Steers and Coman, the Ellison-White Concert Bureau and the Elwyn Concert Bureau sponsored world famous artists when they toured through Portland. The Portland Symphony Orchestra promoted chamber music as well with its own string quartet. There was a significant and discriminating audience waiting for these concerts sponsored by the Portland Chamber Music Society. But Susie’s Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet would not only be a success in Portland, comparable to world renowned quartets such as the Flonzaley String Quartet. Touring for three years on the West Coast, the quartet received adulation from San Diego, California to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The 1930 -- 1931 Season

The debut concert as the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet, Thursday October 30, 1930, took place in the home of Mr. David Honeyman and his wife, Nan Wood Honeyman the future U.S. congresswoman. Concerts were held in the homes of Lloyd Frank and Elliot Corbett, and at Reed College before they left on their California tour. They had concerts in Coronado, Pasadena and Redlands. In Los Angles they performed at the Ebell Women’s Club and were broadcast on KHL Radio. The Santa Barbara Women’s club paid them $250 dollars for a concert. In San Francisco they played in private homes like that of brick heiress Miss Lillian Remillard on Vallejo Street. During the latter part of this first season, Alexander Murray took over Hubert Sorenson’s second violin position and Sorenson moved into Vdovin’s viola position. Before the quartet toured in Washington and Canada in April, they had their first radio broadcast on KGW’s Oregonian-of-the-Air program. After the tour North, Susie’s gift for organization had left behind chamber music societies in Victoria, B.C., Tacoma, and Seattle. Exclusive concerts held in private homes came to an end because of the popular success of the first season.

The 1931 -- 1932 Season

By the second season the quartet was touring thousand of miles in a Buick sedan and performed over 50 concerts. Cities on the tour included Berkeley, Glendale, Carmel, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and Los Angles. They still played concerts at Reed College, the Neighbors of Woodcraft Hall and other Portland venues. To and from California they played in Salem, Eugene, Grant’s Pass and Medford. Ralph Linsley became the pianist for the quartet when piano quintets, quartets and sonatas extended their repertory. Hubert Sorenson returned to the second violin position and Abraham Weiss became the new violist. Weiss was born in New York City in 1905. After his family moved to San Francisco, he received his musical training at the San Francisco Conservatory. Like most violist Abraham Weiss had started training on the violin. The problem of having large fingers was solved when he tried playing a viola and found that in addition to it being easier for his fingers he loved the viola’s darker tone. A fortune teller told Abraham he would not leave home until he was 25. Susie’s offer of the viola position in the quartet in 1930 fulfilled the prophecy.

In January 1932 the quartet joined the Portland Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Willem Van Hoogstraten for a special concert of concertos. Penha performed the Boccherini B flat Major Concerto, Sorenson and Weiss did the Mozart E flat Major double concerto, and Susie Pipes and Sorenson performed the Bach D Minor Double concert.

The quartet’s major engagement the second season was with the Carmel Music Society in July and August of 1932. They were to have premiered a string quartet composed for them by Roy Harris but the premier did not take place and Harris eventually withdrew the quartet after he finished it. Michel Penha with his extensive orchestral experience trained the Monterey Peninsula Orchestra. The quartet members performed there as soloists as well as in the string quartet. Accompanied by the Monterey Peninsula Orchestra, they repeated the concerto concert program they had performed earlier in January with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Music critic Hal Garrott thought the Carmel Chamber Music Society would do better to spend its money on the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet than spending large sums on European artists such as Susie’s old teacher Harold Bauer who also performed at Carmel that same year.

The 1932 -- 1933 Season

Before their opening concert at the Neighbors of Woodcraft Hall in the fall of 1932, the quartet initiated open rehearsals. They headed north to Vancouver B.C. for a series of concerts and performed at the Empress Hotel in Victoria B.C. The popular and critical success for the Neah-Kah-Nie Quartet resulted in the Carmel Music Society programming the quartet’s return for the winter months of January and February as well as the summer months of June, July and August in 1933. But Susie Pipes’s health became a problem and financial problems arose when subsidies ended. Susie and Michel Penha were both too ill for the concert on November 12, 1932. Sorenson and Weiss handled it alone with some help from Ralph Linsley. Sorenson performed the Paganini Concerto Number One, Weiss performed selections from Dale’s Suite Op. 2 and they performed together in LeClair’s Sonata for Violin and Viola and the Mozart Duo for Violin and Viola.

When Michael Penha had an attack of neuritis in November, the Mozart Trio and Brahms Piano Quartet concert was delayed until December with Portland Symphony principal cellist Michael Arenstein substituting for Penha. Back in Carmel by January, Penha had recovered and performed a cello recital accompanied by Ralph Linsley. In March, at International House on the Berkeley University campus, the quartet did a series of concerts before returning to Portland.

The penultimate concert April 1, 1933 featured a Beethoven string trio and the first Faure Piano Quartet. The Neah-Kah-Nie Quartet’s farewell performance took place on April 23, 1933. The all Brahms concert in Portland included the Opus 26 and 60 piano quartets. Hubert Sorenson performed the violin parts. At the concert’s conclusion, after thanking the audience and the quartet’s supporters, Susie announced the end of the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet.

After the Quartet

The members of the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet went on playing after the quartet’s demise. Alexander Vdovin played in the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the 1930s and in the Kansas City Philharmonic in the early 1940s while he was being trained as a copper welder at Finely Engineering College. On his return to California, Vdovin taught music, conducted the choir in a Russian Orthodox Church and composed choral music.

Hubert Sorenson returned to the Portland Symphony Orchestra and played in the Portland Symphony Orchestra String Quartet for two years. He joined pianist Randolph Howard for concerts at Reed College and the Portland Women’s club and with his brother, cellist Richard Sorenson performed as the Sorenson-Howard Trio. He also played with Kelly’s Kaballeros. Hubert and violist Abraham Weiss made up half the Abas quartet after they moved to California to work with Nathan Abas, Flori Gough and Karl Rossner in 1936. Hubert also returned to play in the Carmel Bach Festival in 1936. He went on to play viola in the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet and Opera Orchestras. Hubert’s many casual jobs included playing saxophone in the Jan Garber Band and the NBC Radio Orchestra.

Abraham Weiss briefly joined Michel Penha, Ralph Linsley and Canadian violinist Kathleen Parlow in a piano quartet. Then he played in the Abas quartet with Hubert Sorenson in 1936. Abraham turned down an offer from his occasional string quartet partner Pierre Monteux to play in the San Francisco Symphony and headed south to play in the Los Angles Philharmonic until 1943. Abraham left when he got fed up with their new conductor Alfred Wallenstein. He made his living playing in the Columbia Studios Orchestra until the old studio contract system ended in the late 1950s. It was all casual free lance studio and orchestra work after that for Abraham. School teaching, including at Immaculate Heart College, filled in the gaps in income. Abraham’s chamber music work included playing with his daughter pianist Leslie Weiss. In later years Abraham played for the South Bay Chamber Music Society with the Lyric Arts and the Coriolan String Quartets.

In 1933 Michel Penha returned to the Carmel Music Festival in the Penha Piano Quartet. He performed with one of the founders of the Carmel Music Festival, pianist Dene Denny. Returning in 1937, Penha conducted the Carmel Music Festival Orchestra. He went on to play in the California Trio, the Penstamur Trio with Alexander Murray and organized and directed Bach festivals in Pasadena. Penha also had a long career as a studio musician with the MGM Studio Orchestra. How the West Was Won, Ben Hur and An American in Paris are a few of the films he worked on. Pianist David Campbell who played the Cesar Frank Piano Quintet with the Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet in January of 1931, remembered Michel Penha not only as a “superb musician but as a kindly task master and brilliant wit.”

After his early departure from the quartet, Ferdinand Konrad continued to play in the Portland Symphony Orchestra and Stadium Philharmonic.
Susie Pipes traveled in the Orient for two years with her second daughter Jane. Her Peking String Quartet included the conductor of the Peking Hotel Orchestra violinist Joseph Oroop, violist Dr. P. C. Kronfeld and cellist George Andreyeff. They played at Yenching University and at the home of the U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to China, Nelson Trusler Johnson. On her return to Portland in 1936 Susie was the agent for the Abas Quartet when it toured in the Northwest with her old partners Sorenson and Weiss. With some help from her friends Jewett, Holmes and Corbett, Susie managed one more chamber music festival. In June of 1942 they brought her friends the Budapest String Quartet to the Portland Civic Theater. The last concerts Susie promoted were that of her friend pianist Arthur Loesser in 1943 and a violin and harpsichordist recital with Ralph Kirkpatrick and Alexander Schneider in 1944. By 1945 Susie knew her life in chamber music was over and sold her collection of chamber music to the University of Oregon for $1,000. Susie Fennell Pipes, once a world traveler and society hostess, became reclusive in her later years, cultivating and selling prize winning delphiniums and primroses. The Neah-Kah-Nie String Quartet’s official pianist Ralph Linsley wrote of Susie that she “was always a vivid and stimulating individual that had a real genius for organization.” After a protracted illness Susie Fennell Pipes died in 1950 at the age of 67.

None of the chamber music societies, North or South on the West Coast, which Susie started, survived without her. Two friends and original committee members of Susie’s Portland Chamber Music Society, vice-President Mabel Strong and secretary Leslie Jewett, went on to assist in founding the Friends of Chamber Music which continued into the next century.

E ---- A bit about the composer of the last three pieces on the CD, Dana Carlile

Composer Dana Carlile had several years of piano instruction as a child. He took up playing the piano again on his own, as a hobby, after finishing graduate school in 1980. In the late 1980s an artist friend persuaded Dana to try composing some background music for an art exhibit. Dana was surprised to discover that he could write music but he did not see much point to it. Music would spontaneously pop into his head during periods of moodiness or when he made a mistake playing the piano, both of which were quite often. While these first composing experiences were unnerving, they were enjoyable enough that he continued composing for several years.

While Dana hoped that his compositions would expand his repertoire of easy piano pieces for his hobby playing, the compositions soon exceeded his playing ability. After a second period of composing in the late 1990s, he had completed over 80 pieces of piano music and decided to have his music recorded. His first CD, "Preludes for Silence and Darkness", was featured on National Public Radio’s Open Mic internet show in 2004. In 2005 he released two more CDs of his music, "The Ballet of Phantoms" and "A Lullaby for Innocence". Also in 2005, he began working with film director John Jopson developing the sound track for the film "Les Absintheurs"

Dana learned of his grandfather Ferdinand Sorenson's compositions from his mother Dorothy and Marion Fouse while researching Ferdinand's extensive collection of photographs. After hearing a few of these pieces played by the members of Neah-Kah-Nie Project String Quartet Dana and the quartet members decided the better pieces should be recorded. Without enough music of his grandfather's for a complete CD, Dana decided to arrange some of his own solo pianos pieces for string quartet to fill out the CD.



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Pat Fisher

Really Astounding
At last these marvelous pieces have been made available to purchase and in some cases to obtain the printed
music for one's personal use. They are remarkable not only in their charm and excellent writing but also that
their availability. Only if Mr. Sorenson could know they belong to the world now!