A spectacular evening at Ravinia

 

The annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular fills the lawn at Ravinia Festival. (J Jacobs photo)
The annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular fills the lawn at Ravinia Festival. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Tchaikovsky, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Itzhak Perlman brought friends and families out to Ravinia Festival Sunday. After storming in the morning, the weather was cooperating for Ravinia’s annual “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” in early evening.

Blanket carrying, luggage-rolling, chair-toting, concert goers kept pouring through the park’s gates even past the early 5 p.m. program start.

Each year, the popular concert fills the lawn with music lovers who know that the final notes of the “1812 Overture” are also an appropriate cannon  send-off to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra that is at Orchestra Hall downtown during the winter but plays at Ravinia in Highland Park in summer.

Heads, nodded and even feet seemed to join in from the blankets and chairs behind the Pavilion and across the lawn as Perlman expertly conducted Tchaikovsky’s familiar Symphony No. 4.

Regular Ravinia goer Patsy Haase, Arlington Heights, chats with daughter Julie Haase and Sydney Burks, MO berore the program begins and the lawn starts to fill. (J Jacobs photo)
Regular Ravinia goer Patsy Haase, Arlington Heights, chats with daughter Julie Haase and Sydney Burks, MO before the program begins and the lawn starts to fill. (J Jacobs photo)

After intermission, the 2017 Credit Swisse Young Artist Award winner, cellist Kian Soltani, a Deutsche Grammophon recording artist, wowed listeners with his deft handling of “Variations on a rococo theme for cello and orchestra and its virtuosic coda.

For the “1812” some lawn sitters with youngsters on shoulders, strolled over to the space on the northeast side of the Pavilion to watch the cannon shots.

Ravinia Festival was living up to its name. A festival mood had spread across the park as youngsters skipped around blankets and many picnickers, reluctant to leave on this balmy concert night, continued sipping, eating and chatting.

Frequent Revinia goers, Donna and Dan Berman, Deerfield, know to get to popular concerts early. and Dan knows to bring a hat because the sun changes. (J Jacobs photo)
Frequent Revinia goers, Donna and Dan Berman, Deerfield, know to get to popular concerts early. and Dan knows to bring a hat because the sun changes. (J Jacobs photo)

They had come well-supplied with wine bottles, dishes to share and other stuff.

Although this was the first time Sidney Burks and Julie Haase from Southern  Missouri had been to Ravinia, they were visiting Julie’s folks, Patsy and Roger Haase, regular Ravinia goers from Arlington Heights. What was important to bring?

“A light,” said Patsy, pointing to a very attractive decorated glass container sitting by their table that would be good for concerts continuing after dark. “This way we can find our way back to our table,” she said.

Dan and Donna Berman who lived a lot closer in Deerfield, had already seen several concerts and had more planned on their calendar including the Michael Feinstein program.

Why come?

“I love Ravinia,” said Dan. “I love music.” He added. “Not necessarily in that order.”

“We come every year for the ‘1812,’” said Donna.

1812 overture blast (Photo by  Ravinia Festival/Kyle Dunleavy)
1812 overture blast (Photo by Ravinia Festival/Kyle Dunleavy)

 

To see the schedule for remaining Ravinia concerts visit Ravinia Festival/calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

A Ravinia night to remember: Emanuel Ax plays Brahms Concerto 2 and Rafael Payare conducts CSO in Beethoven Symphony 3

 

Rafael Payare conducts the CSO in Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 at Ravinia Festival. (photo credit Ravinia Festival and Kyle Dunleavy)
Rafael Payare conducts the CSO in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 at Ravinia Festival. (photo credit Ravinia Festival and Kyle Dunleavy)

 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conductor Rafael Payare and pianist Emanuel Ax gave bravo performances at Ravinia Festival Aug. 2, 2019.

Payare, a Venezuelan conductor who has led ensembles and orchestras across the globe and will lead the San Diego Symphony as its new music director this fall, infused Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 with extra exuberance and sensitivity to its Napoleonic themes.

Although the themes are familiar to classical musical lovers, Eroica in less able hands has sometimes come across as too predictable and automatically played. But when Payare opened the symphony by (I think appropriately) upping the pace on the Allegro con brio, there was a new feeling of excitement stretching across the Pavilion and lawn.

It was in perfect contrast to what became the very expressive Marcia funebre movement in C minor followed by the CSO strings’ nimble and delightful Scherzo that went back to the symphony’s key of E-flat major.

During the symphony, the cameras for ravinia’s screens’ focused on the orchestra’s exceptional oboist, flutist and French horns.

They deserved the extra acknowledgement accorded them by Payare after the heroic symphony’s exuberant final notes drew enthusiastic applause.

 

Emanuel Ax plays Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 at Ravinia. Rafael Payare conducts the CSO in Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 at Ravinia Festival. (Ravinia Festival and Kyle Dunleavy photo)
Emanuel Ax plays Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 at Ravinia. Rafael Payare conducts the CSO in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 at Ravinia Festival. (Ravinia Festival and Kyle Dunleavy photo)

 

This interpretation of Beethoven’s epic, groundbreaking symphony was among the best I’ve heard.

It would take another epic performance to complement the first half the program.

And that is what Ax delivered with his extraordinary Brahm’s Concerto No. 2 in B –flat major.

Back at Ravinia for his 28th appearance since 1975, the 70-year-old Ax still has the powerful hands, agile fingers and emotion variations that won the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv in the 1974 and the Avery Fisher Prize in New York City in 1979.

Among the finest pianists of our time, Ax appeared to be having a love affair with the piano (or with Brahms) on Friday.

From hands crossing to land powerful chords and fingers flying across the keys to their producing lyrical waterfalls and gentle caresses, Ax married technique with sensitivity.

What audiences may not recall is that Brahms pays homage in Piano Concerto No. 2 to another instrument he likes to write for, the cello. In notes on the work, Brahms calls the section of the Andante that features a cello solo, a “concerto within a concerto.”

Ax is familiar with Brahms piano cello pairings. As a frequent partner with cellist Yo Yo Ma, the duo has won several Grammy Awards for their Brahms recordings.

As the strains of the last notes of Brahms second piano concerto echoed through the Pavilion, the audience rose, almost as one body, applauding loudly and long.

The double bill of bravo performances made Friday at Ravinia a night to remember.

(Friday was the second night to feature Beethoven symphonies and Brahms concertos. Thursday’s concert was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor followed by pianist Yefim Bronfman playing Brahms’ Concerto No. 1 in D minor.)

For more Ravinia concerts visit Ravinia/Calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Around Town has three exceptional theater events to put on the calendar

 

Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Fran Gehry. (J Jacobs photo)
Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a concert venue in Millennium Park designed by Fran Gehry. (J Jacobs photo)

Think “The Music Man.” Then add such shows as “Come From Away,” “Frozen” and “Hamilton.” But as the guy on TV says, “Wait, there’s more.” Add in opera star Maria Callas to make three spectacular evenings – one in July, another in August and the third one in early September.

 

  “The Music Man”

Goodman Theatre and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has a double bill of a short performance by “The Music Man” cast members followed by a screening of the movie featuring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.

When: July 23, 6:30 p.m. remarks, 6:34 p.m. performance and 6:45 p.m. film.

Where: The Jay Pritzker Pavilion and The Great Lawn at Millennium Park at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue.

Admission: Free

For park information visit Millennium Park For the film series visit Choose Chicago/Millennium Park/Summer films.  For Goodman Theatre’s “The Music Man” visit GoodmanTheatre.

 

Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert (Coming shows peek)

Co-sponsored by DCASE and ABC 7, several shows from Broadway In Chicago’s 2019-2020 season will be live in concert including “The Phantom of the Opera, The Band’s visit, Summer: the Donna summer Musical, “Once on this Island, “My Fair Lady”, “Mean Girls,” Hamilton” Fronzen, “Dear Evan Hansen and “Come from Away.”

When: Aug. 12 at 6:15 p.m

Where: Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 201 E. randolphg st.

Admission: Free.

Visit www.millenniumpark.org For more information on the Summer Concert and Broadway In Chicago, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

 

Diva Maria Callas

Some of Callas’ greatest performances have been digitally re-mastered using state-of-the-art 3D hologram technology by Base Hologram Productions. They will be backed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Elmear Noone.

When: Sept 7, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive.

Co-presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago and Live Nation.

Admission by tickets. Visit  Lyric Opera/Callas

 

Jodie Jacobs

CSO musicians end strike with new contract

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (A CSO photo)
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (A CSO photo)

After a seven-week strike, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s musicians  and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s board have agreed to a new five-year contract. The new agreement was ratified this weekend following negotiation sessions mediated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Retroactive to September 2018 and going through September 2023, the agreement covers working conditions, a 14 % wage increase over five years plus changing to a Defined Contribution Retirement Plan from a Defined Benefit Pension Plan.

“The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been a cultural treasure for this community for 128 years,” said CSOA Board of Trustees Chair Helen Zell.  “Our Trustees recognize and honor the exceptional artistry of the musicians. This new agreement reflects the excellence of the Orchestra and ensures that the musicians receive the outstanding compensation they deserve, while securing their and the CSOA’s long-term financial sustainability through the retirement plan transition,” said Zell.

Begun April 2018, negotiations between the association and the musicians’  had expired  March 10, 2019 after a 6-month extension.

The musicians were represented by Chicago Federation of Musicians Local 10-208 President Terryl Lynn Jares and legal counsel Robert E. Bloch of Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone, Auerbach & Yokich. The association was represented by legal counsel Marilyn Pearson of McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

The 2018/19 season, including a Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music concert with violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Evgeny Kissin, and the CSO subscription concerts conducted by Music Director Riccardo Muti, are resuming. For program details visit CSO.org.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Lollapalooza lineup just announced

Lollapalooza arial photo by Cambria Harkey. Photo courtesy of Lollapalooza)
Lollapalooza arial photo by Cambria Harkey. Photo courtesy of Lollapalooza)

One day after four-day tickets became available for the 2019 Lollapalooza concert, the lineup was announced with the publication of the poster showing who’s coming.

Headlining the concert are Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty Øne Piløts, The Strokes, Tame Impala, Flume, The Chainsmokers, J Balvin. Among others coming are Kacey musgraves. Lil Wayne, Janelle Monae Meek Mill and Hozier.

To see the entire lineup visit 2019 poster. For tickets visit Lollapalooza/tickets. Four day tickets range from $340 to more than $4,200. One day tickets are not yet available. They will range from $130 to $2,000.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Some Lollapalooza tickets on sale

Lolla 2017 aerial photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman courtesy of Lollapaluza
Lolla 2017 aerial photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman courtesy of Lollapaluza

Four-day tickets are now available to purchase even though performers have not been announced for the 2019 Lollapalooza’s mega-concert event in Grant Park, Aug. 1-4.

Ranging from $340 for basi, general admission then going up from there to more than $4,200, the price depends on the perks and VIP package wanted.

Perks might include  complimentary or discounted drinks and food, concierge services, chef-curated dining, golf=cart transportation and lounge and privacy locations.

To get tickets and find out more go to tickets, perks, information and hotel packages.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Ravinia Festival schedule is out

 

Ravinia Festival. (J Jacobs photo)
Ravinia Festival. (J Jacobs photo)

Summer events are not as far away as we may think when it comes to planning which Ravinia Festival concerts we want to attend. The Ravinia organization just released its summer schedule and it is jammed with pop, classic and rock concerts.

Lionel Richie June 11-12, Buddy Guy June 14, Tony Bennett June 21, Jennifer Hudson July 14 to Gershwin Concerto in F July 13, Renée Fleming July 28, Ringo Starr and the Beach Boys Aug. 3 and Sting Aug. 23, there’s something for everybody. Of course there’s the Tchaikovsky spectacular, 1812 Overture Aug 18

So the first question is where to see the schedule.

Go to Season at a Glance  to print an easy to copy Ravinia program to put on the bulletin board (or into your mobile devise). For an easy to read schedule visit Ravinia.

Next question is when tickets are available.

According to the Ravinia website, the first opportunity goes to patron and higher donors, March 19–28. Next, affiliate donors have access to tickets April 22–25. Then, tickets are available to Friend donors April 26–28 and Bravo and Encore donors can order Lawn tickets April 29–30.

Tickets will be available to the public beginning  May 7 for the May/June/July concerts. Then the tickets open for August/September concerts on May 8. Visit Ticket Info.

No, you don’t have to plan what to bring now but you might want to decide if you and family or friends are going to try one of Ravinia’s dining-in or take-out options.

Just reading over all the choices at the Ravinia Market, the new Lawn Bar, the Park View and the Tree Top makes me want to try all of them just to see which I prefer and experience something different than “I will bring dessert.”

Finally, print out the schedule or put dates on the calendar so you don’t miss the concert you really want to see.

Ravina Festival is at 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL

Jodie Jacobs