This was published in a vile, butchered form on Tuesday. The complete version is presented here.
It's a little inane, but it would have served its purpose.
Ravinia is the oldest outdoor music festival in
Many wax eloquent about Ravinia’s tradition of elaborate lawn picnics, where concert goers lounge around on the grass and hear the music over a state-of-the-art sound system. Lawn seats are always $10, but if what you care about is the music, it’s recommended you get reserved at either of Ravinia’s two near-ideal main venues. The
Best of all, college students may present their student IDs at Ravinia’s ticket office on the night of performances to get one of two cut rates: free admission to the lawn or $10 reserved seats in either of the two venues.
Metra runs a “Ravinia Special” on concert days, and while the trains are sometimes crowded, this is still recommended. It even runs out of
(August 15th – , August 17th – )
Ravinia’s marketing this one hard, and with good reason—to hear Mozart’s masterpiece in the intimate 850-seat
But it doesn’t stop there. Our own, legendary Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be in the pit, something that only happens a few times every decade. The admired, 140-year-old Apollo Chorus will also be featured. And of course, veteran Maestro James Conlon will be on the podium, likely turning in a performance that will be far more than the sum of its many impressive parts.
Reserved theatre seats are pricey, set at $75. But if there is one show you should see this summer, this is it. Truly extraordinary by any standard.
Beaux Arts Trio
(August 18th - ; August 19th – )
The last 12 months have been a time for many farewells in the music world, but the loss of the Beaux Arts Trio will perhaps be the most lamentable. For over 50 years, this ensemble’s various incarnations have consistently set the standard for their type, turning in performances of remarkable technique, poetry, and power. As part of their farewell tour, this performance will literally be in their last month of existence, promising Beethoven’s B-flat major “Archduke” trio and Schubert’s E-flat major trio. Both works are among the masterpieces of the genre, and both composers are particular specialties of the ensemble—rarely has this music been played with such virile nobility as by these gentlemen. They are still likely the very best in the world, and this is the very last time we may hear them.
Like most Ravinia chamber music concerts, this program will be in the
Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand
(July 26th – )
Gustav Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand is rarely performed, and even more rarely performed well. The work is traditionally done with a staggering number of musicians—hence the name—and while you probably won’t see 1000 performers on the stage, the several hundred that will be involved should be more than adequate to knock your socks off. James Conlon is well known as a Mahler conductor and his relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is a consistently fruitful one. The orchestra itself is perfectly suited to a huge work like this, possessing not only the world’s greatest brass section, but perhaps the world’s largest and most powerful orchestral sound. And they too are known for their Mahler, a reputation which extends all the way back to the orchestra’s years under Fritz Reiner in the 50’s.
Included in the massive, combined forces of several choruses will also be the Chicago Symphony Chorus, which, like the orchestra, is considered one of the world’s very best and just happens to include some
Reserved seats range from $30-$75.
An Evening of Beethoven (Budget Recommendation)
(July 30th – )
Ludwig van Beethoven and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—need more be said? This promises to be a feast for the heroically inclined, with a program including both of Beethoven’s “Napoleonic” works: Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) and Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor). The ever-popular Fidelio Overture is also thrown in for good measure.
Sir Andrew Davis will be conducting and should lead the orchestra in fine, serviceable performances. But even more importantly, American pianist Leon Fleisher is slated to play the concerto. Mr. Fleisher is best known for his medical miracle story, in which botox injections restored the use of his right hand after 40 years of crippling focal dystonia. He’s around 80 now, but his playing is still remarkable, boasting a formidable technique and a broad palette of clear, singing colors. His now-legendary cycle of Beethoven piano concertos places him at the absolute forefront of interpreters in this repertoire—hearing him play should be something really special.
Best of all, this is a “Full House” concert, which means the usual range of ticket prices has been slashed to a flat $25 for all reserved seats.
Grant Park Music Festival
The resident Grant Park Orchestra is quite respectable and has been developing nicely for some years. Current music director Carlos Kalmar consistently programs an interesting mix of standard repertoire and weird, experimental fare, and this summer seems no exception.
It’s recommended you arrive early enough to sit in the fixed seats close to the stage, but if you decide to sit on the grass, the Pritzker Pavilion’s sound system offers a reasonable listening experience.
Grant Park’s pretty easy to get to—just find
Act I, Wagner’s Die Walküre
(August 13th – )
So, ever heard Wagner outdoors? Not likely. Even aside from the particular performers, the exceptional premise of this concert makes it worth attending. Act I of Die Walküre is considered by many to be the very highest point of the entire Ring cycle, having a long history of excellent performances outside of the complete opera. As such, it is the most logical vehicle for so welcome an experiment.
But it gets better—music director Carlos Kalmar has somehow pulled together a real top notch set of principals. Cavernous bass Kristinn Sigmundsson will take on the role of the villainous Hunding. As Sieglinde, Nancy Gustafson is the name Grant Park’s pushing for this show—and she’s an excellent singer, no doubt about it—but it’s Torsten Kerl as Siegmund that’s the interesting name here. Dedicated Wagnerians are wondering if he’ll grow into the next great heldentenor, and with good reason—his Germanic voice is focused, bright, youthful, and metallic, slightly reminiscent of our other contemporary almost-heldentenor, Ben Heppner. In fact, the famous Mr. Heppner’s voice is just a little less focused, and a little less “helden” by comparison. True judgment must of course be reserved until Mr. Kerl may be heard live, but what can be heard on his various recordings is downright exciting.
Definitely the most interesting of Grant Park’s concerts this summer and definitely worth your evening.
(July 13th – )
Grant Park’s usual approach is to hire solid, respectable-but-not-famous musicians, but every once in a while they’ll feature someone well known. In this case, 2008 happens to be the 60th anniversary of the founding of
In any case, Mr. Zukerman is well worth hearing, both as violinist and conductor. The program will include Bach’s D-minor Concerto for Two Violins (where he will be joined by concertmaster Jeremy Black), Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture.