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'Cabarat at Cafe 45' performing Oct. 12 at Phipps

Members of Ensemble Aventura from left, Dave Hazel, percussion; Sarah Bertsch, violin; Roger Stratton, piano, composer and arranger; Monica Stratton, soprano and violin; and Brian Ogren, bass. Submitted photo.

Ensemble Aventure will perform “Cabaret at Café 45,” an exploration of jazz and popular music from across the heart of Europe, on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts.

The program will include classic chansons by the likes of Edith Piaf, samba-influenced songs from the “nouvelle scène française” (from the repertoire of singers such as Coralie Clement and Elisabeth Anais), and exotic music from the Algerian-French community.  

The ensemble will go back in time to the heyday of Kabarett in the 1920s in Berlin, with songs from Kurt Weill and Friedrich Hollaender. Then the quintet will visit San Remo on the Italian Riviera, home of a famous song contest.

Heading farther afield, the ensemble will travel to the shores of the Black Sea for classic klezmer, rowdy Balkan dances, and romances from the Russian Roma (gypsies). The quintet will also spend time in the seaside resort of Sochi, home of the 2014 Olympics, and also home of the fascinating Circassian musical culture. Then, more adventure awaits in Istanbul and Azerbaijan.

Ensemble Aventura consists of Roger Stratton, piano, composer and arranger; Monica Stratton, soprano and violin; Sarah Bertsch, violin; Dave Hanzel, percussion; and Brian Ogren, bass.

Roger Stratton, pianist, composer, and conductor, has been the music director of Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale since 1996, having previously served churches in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Illinois. He enjoys stretching the boundaries of sacred music with innovative concerts and prayer services, with special emphases on world music and jazz. He was educated at Oberlin College (East Asian studies) and New England Conservatory (choral conducting), with additional studies in composition, piano, and theology.  His liturgical and choral compositions are published by World Library Publications, Alliance Music Publishers, and Earlham College Press.

Vocalist and violinist, Monica Stratton has been an active musician in the Twin Cities since 1997. After completing her studies at St. Olaf College (where she sang in the St. Olaf Choir under the direction of Ken Jennings) and in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music (where she studied vocal performance and earned a master’s of music degree in voice) she and her husband, Roger, moved to Minnesota. In addition to singing weddings, funerals, and other freelance vocal concerts, she sang with the Dale Warland Singers for that group’s last seven seasons.

Bertsch has over 15 years of professional performance experience in the Twin Cities. She has toured nationally with pianist Don Irwin and Christian artist Fernando Ortega, and internationally with a number of music outreach teams through Wooddale Church. She also teaches violin lessons at The Phipps Center.

Well-known for his versatility on drums and percussion, Hanzel maintains a busy performing schedule with many private and corporate events as well as recording sessions in the Twin Cities and beyond. He builds custom drum sets in his business, Boom Alley Drums, and has a private teaching studio at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. He is also currently on the musician roster at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie. From 1985 to 1993, Hanzel held the drum seat for the famed Rupert’s Orchestra at Rupert’s Nightclub in Golden Valley. He traveled extensively with Rupert’s, playing corporate functions throughout the U.S. He has also backed national acts, including Huey Lewis, Celine Dion, Donny Osmond, Smokey Robison, and Eddy Money.

Ogren enjoys freelance performance on double bass and electric bass guitar and has performed with and facilitated various music groups throughout the region. He holds a degree in double bass performance from St. Cloud State University with additional studies at the University of Minnesota, the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and the Chautauqua Institute. 

Tickets are $22 for adults and $15 for students of all ages. Discounts are available by purchasing season tickets. For reservations call (715) 386-8409 or go to