Nothing wrong with “Lolla” but if you’d rather detour this weekend away from Lollapalooza’s half-million people filled Grant Park, there are a few alternatives. They range from family friendly to something for youngsters, oldsters and “Grateful Dead” fans.
Anyone who appreciates Marvel’s art and characters should head to “Marvelocity, the Art of Alex Ross.” It fills the walls at the Elmhurst Art Musem after drawing fans further north at the Dunn Museum in Northwest suburban Libertyville. The museum is at 150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst. *(see related Marvelocity note)
Those folks who appreciate West Town’s restaurants and craft beer scene plus understand its “Dancing in the Streets name and dates of Aug. 4-6, will appreciate the an annual West Town Chamber festival. People in the know understand Aug. 4-6. Think the “Days Between” that celebrate Jerry Garcia. His b-day was Aug. 1 and he died Aug. 9.
Those music lovers who like to relax on a blanket in a tree and sculpture-filled park while listening to Mozart, Rachmaninoff or Beethoven, should head to Ravina Festival in north suburban Highland Park this weekend. Hear Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Marin Alsop and the CSO. Also featured this weekend are the music of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff with Marin Alsop, Yunchan Lim, and the CSO. Ravinia is at the southeast end of Highland Park and accessible by train.
Instead of worrying about getting around downtown Chicago with the NASCAR Race July 1 and 2 in 2023, consider taking a fireworks cruise on Tall Ship Windy that Saturday before or Wednesday after July 4.
It goes from Navy Pier so you get the Pier’s Fireworks without the downtown hoopla and street closures. You can also come down a day early and stay in the Sable Hilton Hotel right on Navy Pier to enjoy fun rides, a beer garden, restaurants, art exhibits and a vacation with great views.
On the Fourth
Tune in to PBS at 8 p.m. CT July 4 for “A Capitol Fourth,” a really special annual concert from Washington D.C. that features international stars and patriotic music.
Among this year’s headliners are Renée Fleming, Boyz II Men, Belinda Carlisle, the Broadway cast of “A Beautiful Noise (Neil Diamond) the Muppets, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly.
Then, stay tuned forWashington DC Fireworks shooting over the National Mall at 9 p.m. CT, co-sponsored by the National Park Service.
While it is still “Midsummer,” that sometimes mystical time of year around the Summer Solstice, go to the Grant Park Music Festival in Millenium Park to hear Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
The concert, with Principal Conductor Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra, is June 23 at 6:30 p.m. and June 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The concert is free for lawn sitters and asks for donations for reserved seats.
The Grant Park Music Festival is presented by the Grant Park Orchestral Association with support from the Chicago Park District and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). For programs and other information visit Grant Park Music Festival.
Back in Millennium Park, the Joffrey Ballet is holding a free, pre-perfomance dance class at 4:45 p.m. June 25. It is followed by a free program at 5:30 p.m. that features the Joffrey Company Artists, the Joffrey Academy and the Joffrey community Engagement Students. For more information visit Joffrey Ballet.
It doesn’t matter if a member of the Pride community. The City of Chicago takes pride in supporting LGBTQ+.
Everyone is invited to what has become huge, fun, food and entertainment events such as Pride Fest in the Halsted Street area, a food and entertainment festival in Grant Park, and voila, one of the country’s largest Pride Parades that swings through several of the city’s neighborhoods.
Those events are in addition to some that already took place in neighborhoods and suburbs last weekend and events still to come at Navy Pier and the Chicago area. See the details and mark the events on the calendar.
Chicago Pride Fest, a two-day annual festival in Northalsted
What to expect: Held the weekend before the Chicago Pride Parade, the Fest features music on three stages, good Chicago drag performances, the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, a Pet Parade, a high-heel race, a Youth Pride Space for teens and several merchandise and food vendors.
In addition, SHAB, a pop artist and Iranian refugee, will be among featured guests performing on the Bud Light North Stage on Saturday. She is just back from a UK tour centered on her new video Indestructible.
Details; Centered at Halsted and Addison, June 17-18, 2023, it opens at 11 a.m. Saturday and ends at 10 p.m. Sunday and attracts about 60,000 people over the two days. A $15 donation is requested to cover expenses. For more information visit Chicago Pride Fest 2023 | 06/17/2023 | Choose Chicago.
Pride in the Park
What to expect: an annual, two-day music festival that includes food, merchandise and art. It draws big name stars that this year includes Zedd, Zara Larsson and Saweetie.
Details: Grant Park, June 23 and 24, 2023. For more information visit Pride in the Park
Back Lot Bash
What to expect: Dedicated to women, it’s a highly attended block-party of food and music that this year features DJ Mary Mac and Lauren Sanderson.
Details: Held in Andersonvilee, June 24, 2023. For hours and location or more information visitBack Lot Bash Chicago.
Navy Pier Pride
What to expect: Music in three Navy Pier venues.
Details: Entertainment June 24-25 on the West Performance Platform from 11 a.m. to noon and more entertainment on the Orsted Wave Wall Performance Platform from noon to 7 p.m. Entertainers at the Navy Pier Beer Garden from 2 through 11 p.m.
What to expect: Begun as a protest march in 1970 following New York City’s Stonewall Riots, it has become one of Chicago’s largest parades with close to 200 entries and attracts more than a million people. Street closures start around 8 a.m. at Montrose, Irving Park and Wellington at Broadway and Addison and Grace and Roscoe at Halsted. Streets and fully reopen by 8 p.m.
Details: The parade is June 25. It assembles at 10 a.m. then starts at noon in the Uptown neighborhood at Montrose and Broadway. Then, it winds through neighborhoods including East Lakeview and ends in Lincoln Park near Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road.
Go to Downtown Chicago to Millenium Park for the Chicago Blues Festival, June 8-11, 2023.
It celebrates Chicago contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock and hip hop. And it’s free. Visitors can bring a chair or spread out but lots of folks stand to watch because others are standing.
Hours: Thurs: 5:30-9 p.m., Friday-Sunday: noon – 9 p.m. Enter from Michigan Ave. at Washington St. or Madison St., Randolph St. or Monroe St. Millenium Park is free and has a Welcome Center on Randolph Street that is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. but open later on performance nights. For Blues Festival information visit City of Chicago :: Chicago Blues Festival
Or go to Skokie for MadKap Productions’ 2023 Short Play Festival June 10 at 7:30 p.m. and June 11 at 2 p.m. It’s just $15.
Plays are each about 10 minutes and written include pieces by David Alex, DC Cathro, Eric Coble, Eva Schultz and Judy Schindler
For more information visit Skokie Theatre. The theater is at 7924 Lincoln Ave., downtown Skokie near the S.W. corner of Lincoln and Oakton Avenues.
In addition, there is Chi-Soul Fest, a free, two-day music/comedy festival throughout Navy Pier.
It is impossible not to move the shoulders or tap the feet when Lisa Heimi Johanson as the bi-racial Mira, David M. Lutken as her Appalachian grandfather, Edgar “Gar,” and Morgan Morse as her boyfriend, Beckett, pick up their instruments and treat audiences of “The Porch on Windy Hill” to a couple of hours of well-played, traditional bluegrass.
The three actors, make up the cast of a show playing now through May 14, 2023, at Northlight Theatre in Skokie.
Lisa, a Broadway, national tour, regional and tv actress/singer/musician, David Lutken, a noted Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Nashville, musician/actor, and Morse, a talented musician and popular regional actor, are also three of the show’s four writers.
They are led by international, off Broadway and regional playwright/director/choreographer Sherry Lutken who conceived the play.
Arguable, there is another cast member: the play’s traditional Appalachian music.
“We used music to tell the story,” Sherry said, noting that people from different backgrounds could amicably come together when appreciating music.
And thus, “The Porch On Windy Hill” was conceived to incorporate a beloved regional music form into a fragile family reunion as a healing lotion. Its writers hope the show will spark discussions on COVID’s disturbing byproduct of anti-Asian sentiment.
A recent telephone interview with Sherry delved into how the show and its theme came to be. After all, except for one-person celebrity interpretations, most theater productions don’t have the play’s writers doubling as the cast.
It started with COVID changing what Sherry could substitute in her theater schedule. The venue wanted something small, instead of the multiple set and costume changes required by the slated production.
“It was a scary time for a lot of people. There was all this messiness. We had a show scheduled for 2021. We still hope to do it. It had a large cast.”
The “we” are Sherry and husband David. He co-devised and starred in the multi-award-winning Woody SEZ: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie which included other talented musician/actors and has played internationally and in the United States including Chicago.
So, while stuck indoors, sheltering from COVID but looking for a different play, “a story that would resonate,” Sherry said, her thoughts turned to how a close, bi-racial friend would be feeling given all the hate expressed against Asians and what her friend would tell her children.
“There was a mindset out there leading to rising aggression,” she said.
Explaining that Lisa who was passionate about justice was biracially white and Korean, Sherry said, “We thought of Lisa and how she expressed herself in her poetry on social media.”
The Lutkens then added Morgan, an actor/musician, writer they knew from his regional work. The four of them started developing what became the script for “The Porch on Windy Hill.”
“We’d dive into ideas developing the basic premise,” Sherry said. “We were on zoom with long discussions on the subject matter, adding and then cutting. It was creative. It became magical.”
She compared the process to a sculpture that starts with a block of wood or stone. “You whittle and chip away until a bird emerges,” she said.
She added that during this time, “David was mining the American landscape of music. Its roots.”
“We often talk about how music melds the sounds carried to this country. Music is part of our culture. There are the indigenous peoples, the enslaved, the folks who try to forge a better life. Music speaks to people at a very deep level.”
She thought it brought people “who deserve to be in the same space, together.”
“In our personal life, I was thinking of my friend and what she experienced and that started me thinking about using the idea of Korean/white, and what it means to be different, to be biracial… what it feels like. I imagined my friend whom I dearly loved, speaking to her children.”
She added, “This story needs to be told.”
That became a seed for the basic plot of feeling different. Plus it could combine with music and see where music could lead.
“Once music was in (the play), we still had to start a conversation. It became what we’re hoping to achieve. We all wrote together. And we worked on it some more in a workshop with dramaturg Christine Mok”.
There was a lot of the talk is not in the play.”
In “The Porch on Windy Hill,” music led Mira, a biracial Korean-white classical violinist, to “Gar,” her estranged Appalachian, banjo-strumming grandfather and change their conceptions and misconceptions of previous family interactions.
The music and action is facilitated by Mira’s boyfriend, Beckett who is doing his doctoral dissertation on American folk music.
“David and I were talking about it – what was in my head. It’s how different people coming to America brought their music and how indigenous people and enslaved people had theirs. Music evolved in this country,” said Sherry.
“We all wrote together. And we worked on it some more in a workshop with dramaturg Christine Mok.”
The play premiered at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut, fall of 2021.
“It’s an exciting way to create theatre. We were living the theater process when we were all stuck inside wondering what would happen to theater.
“Music can be really purposeful. As a healing concept, it’s perfect.”Sherry said.
“The Porch on Windy Hill” will be at Northlight Theatre in Skokie through May 14, 2023 before moving to Weston Theater in Vermont in August and Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA, April 2024.
Maybe I’m a sucker for how folk music tells stories of other cultures while also leading to life changing experiences.
I loved “Once” since seeing it downtown Chicago years ago and just recently at Writers Theatre in Glencoe.
Steeped in Irish folk music and movement, the play brings an Irish musician/songwriter back from the brink of self-destruction as “Girl” whom he meets, convinces him his music is listening-worthy.
Then, this weekend, I fell in love with “The Porch on Windy Hill,” a bluegrass musical presented by Northlight Theatre in Skokie.
The play reunites Mira, a classical violinist, with Edgar, her Appalachian grandfather, a noted blue-grass musician living in the North Carolina mountains.
Ostensibly, the reason they see each other again is because Mira’s partner Beckett’s doctoral dissertation is on folk music cultures and they needed a break from their Brooklyn apartment where they were cooped up during the pandemic.
All three characters are really fine musicians and Mira, played by Lisa Heimi Johanson, has a terrific voice. So basically, audiences are treated to an exceptional “wingding” or “hootenanny.” But there is a backstory.
Beckett, portrayed by Morgan Morse, keeps trying to get Mira to explain why there appears to be a disconnect between her and her grandfather, called “Gar,” played by David M. Lutken.
Clues are dropped along the way by Mira who is biracial as she notices some changes around the old homestead. When Gar mentions that new families are moving into the area, she wonders if and how they are accepted.
When pressed again by Beckett, Mira, whose mom is from Appalachia and whose father is Korean, finally said, “It’s complicated.” Later, she admitted she felt her grandfather didn’t approve of the union because of his behavior towards her and her family.
Conceived and directed by Sherry Lutken, “The Porch on Windy Hill,” was written by Sherry Lutken and its actors: Lisa Heimi Johanson, Morgan Morse and David M. Lutken.
Set designer Mara, Ishihara Zinky, came up with the perfect porch and housefront for the play’s joyful music and serious discussion.
Details: “The Porch on Windy Hill” continues through May 14, 2023, at Northlight Theatre in the Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie. Running time: 2 hrs., 10 min. with one intermission. For tickets and other information visit Northlight Theatre.
Lighthouse ArtSpaceChicago, known for its presentations of visual artists, celebrated Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 267th birthday with a sneak-peak kickoff of “Mozart Immersive: The Soul of a Genius,” The birthday celebration included complimentary treats of Prosecco and Eli’s Cheesecake.”
Past Artspace presentations featured the works of such artists as Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo by utilizing cutting-edge projection techniques to create a 360-degree immersive visual experience.
The Mozart presentation is the first to feature a musician. To craft dream-like 18th century inspired imagery, the producers partnered with the creative team of Massimilliano Siccardi and Vittorio Guidotti.
Mozart Immersive’s world premiere is currently scheduled to open March 10, 2023 at the Lighthouse ArtSpace at the corner of Clark Street and Germania Place with no immediate plans for the exhibit to travel. All the more reason to be sure to check it out.
Terri Hemmert of WXRT Radio hosted the birthday bash with live music by the Ryan Center Ensemble featuring Wm Clay Thompson (Bass) singing an aria from Don Giovanni with Chris Reynolds on piano.
The excellent young basso and pianist duo were followed by an expert chamber ensemble comprised of four string players from The Music of the Baroque performing two Mozart compositions, the ever popular “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” and “Divertimento in D Major.
The experiential projected images thoughtfully incorporated the monochromatically painted architectural interior features of the former Germania Club that is now the home of Artspace.
For instance, the inside frames of what had been windows were replaced by projected vintage images of the Austrian countryside.
They added to the enjoyment of the string ensemble by transporting us back in time to a place that might have hosted an elegant soiree, perhaps in a stately home or castle of one of Mozart’s benefactors.
The final production, a retrospective with highlights from Mozart’s short life, integrates video re-enactments with live actors alongside the animation.
Many visitors will be delighted to see legendary dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov in the heart-rending role of Mozart’s father, Leopold, who is credited for launching his son’s early career. They became estranged later in life.
Constantine Orbelian, New York City Opera’s music director and principal conductor, joined Hemmert onstage to discuss the production.
The music, arranged by composer Luca Longobardi, will accompany Mozart Immersive. It was recorded by the Lithuanian Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra led by Orbelian.
Before the doors opened, I had an opportunity to interview the Maestro for my ChicagoBroadcastingNetwork.com podcast. The four-time Grammy-nominated musician shared that he had not yet seen the visuals associated with the music and was as eager as the rest of us to get a sneak peek.
Details: Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago is at 108 Germania PL. For tickets visit Mozart Immersive.
Photo: Reno Lovison (R) recorded a podcast interview with Maestro Orbelian (L) which can be heard at ChicagoBroadcastingNetwork.com (Photo Credit: Julie Lovison)
Photo: Julie Lovison, Director of The Lake Shore Music Studio with Constantine Orbelian, Director and Principal Conductor of the New York City Opera celebrating Mozart’s birthday at Lighthouse ArtSpace in Gold Coast / Lincoln Park. (Photo Credit: Reno Lovison)
Photo: Visitors get a sneak peek of Mozart Immersive: The Soul of a Genius, Opening March 10, 2023 at Lighthouse Immersive. (Photo Credit: Reno Lovison)
Lyric Opera goers may not have known what to expect when taking their seats Oct. 8, 2022, for “The Brightness of Light,” a hybrid one-act opera-song cycle by composer Kevin Puts. But it featured popular lyric soprano Renée Fleming and versatile baritone Rod Gilfry, so the house was filled.
It was an extraordinary experience.
For scenery, the program used the gorgeous artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe, the sensuous photography of Alfred Stieglitz and the dramatic letters they wrote to each other compiled in a projection format designed by Wendall Harrigton.
Puts turned to those letters for his libretto. However, it took the still remarkable Fleming voice and artistry and well-matched baritone of Gilfry to pull off Puts’ intense, challenging music.
“The Brightness of Light,” with Fleming and Gilfry was the Chicago premiere. It is worth seeing and hearing again. Unfortunately, this was a one-time program that has been travelling for a few years. It ended the LA Opera season in June.
Some members of the audience left at intermission to catch trains. Those who stayed were entertained by a charming selection of nine Broadway songs ranging from “Almost Like being in Love” (Brigadoon) to “People Will Say We’re in Love” (Oklahoma).
The entire program featured the Lyric Opera Orchestra conducted by Lyric Music Director Enrique Mazzola which is always a treat.
As to how this all started, Puts explained the following in a note:
“In 2015, I received the honor of a commission from my alma mater, the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. The school’s orchestra was planning a trip to perform at Lincoln Center and wanted to include a new work written by an alumni composer to feature an alumni performer. The performer they had in mind was Renée Fleming and—to my great excitement—she accepted the offer, thereby initiating one of the most treasured collaborations of my career.
We wanted to focus on an iconic American woman as the subject, and I happened on a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe: “My first memory is of the brightness of light, light all around.”
t is easy to miss events when September ends on a Friday and October starts on a weekend. Plus, a COVID break of events for two years changed when some events are re-appearing.
American Craft Expo
Sept. 30 through Oct. 2
Usually held earlier in the year, ACE, as the art exposition is known, will be at the Chicago Botanic Garden again but runs this weekend on the cusp of September/October. A top-notch show of works from100 juried-in artisans, ACE is sponsored by the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem and is a fundraiser for NorthShore research and care.
Hours: Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden and American Craft Expo. Chicago Botanic Garden, CBG/ACE and American Craft Expo.
World Music Festival Chicago
Sept 30 through Oct. 9
The festival has free band concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and locations across the city from restaurants and bars to the University of Chicago. Its artists and ensembles represent 22 countries and areas. A special feature is Ragamala, the largest all-night long presentation of live Indian classical music in the United States. For more information visit World Music Festival Chicago. For the bands and locations visit Schedule.
Fiddler on the Roof
Oct. 2 through Oct. 7
Opera director Berrie Kosky premiered his “Fiddler on the Roof” at Komische Oper Berlin in 2017. Now it has been adapted by the Lyric Opera of Chicago for its US premiere, but it leaves soon.
Both Grand, with the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus and powerful with fine acting and exceptional dances, “Fiddler” visits the village of Anatevka in 1905 in what became Ukraine (and in 2022 is a war zone.) Lectures on operas and shows are one hour before curtain time.
The Lyric Opera of Chicago is at 20 N. Wacker Dr. For tickets and more information visi. Lyric Opera and call (312) 332-2244.