The signs are there. A few leaves are already floating on the wind, Cars are filling school parking lots, Theater billboards and marquees announce show openings. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the next full moon after this weekend’s large orb, is the Harvest Moon on Sept. 20, 2021.
It’s time to start marking the calendar with fun, fall activities. Just don’t let too many weeks go by without snagging tickets for events that sell out.
Two 2021 festivals that sell out before people on the go realize the tickets are gone, are the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Night of 1,000 Jack o Lanterns and Lightscape.
“A: Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns is one of our most popular events at the Garden and in 2019, we expanded this event to run for 10 evenings due to popular demand, “said Zombolo, associate vice president of visitor events and programs.
“I’ts become an annual fall tradition,” she said and added, that people are “ amazed by the artistically carved pumpkins.” And it’s all “ in a beautiful fall setting,” said Zombolo.
According to Zombolo, the event adapted procedures to fit recommended pandemic protocols. “Last year we implemented new procedures including limited capacity per timeslot, a one-way trail with a separate entrance and exit, and extra space between pumpkins. We will be continuing those procedures in 2021.”
Tickets are time and date sensitive. They go on sale to members Aug. 23, 2021 and to the public Aug. 27. Adults: $16/$18, Children 3 – 12: $12/$14
Children 2 and under are free. A $20 parking fee applies to nonmembers and must be purchased ahead, online. Members park for free. The Garden closes at 5 p.m. during the event and reopens at 6 for ticketed event guests.
Chicago’s famed Gospel , Blues and Jazz festivals won’t happen until this fall (hey, it takes time to bring back their featured performers). To see who what and when visit Chicago festivals reimagined.
But the Chicago area will still be swinging, rocking and keyboarding the classics outdoors, this summer.
Check out Aurora for rock, the Grant Park Music Festival for classics and a 4th of July salute, the Windy City Smokeout bands and Ravinia Festival for all of that from rock to pop and classics.
Just west of Chicago, Aurora has a terrific rock concert line up this summer. There are a few tickets left for REO Speedwagon, July 1, 8 p.m. at the River Ridge Park. Then, on July 16 there is Tribute to Fleetwood Mac. For tickets and more concert schedule info visit Aurora Pop/Rock.
Windy City Smokeout
The popular eat, drink and good band festival takes over Parking Lot C at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, July 8-11, 2021. Headliners include Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Brett Eldredge and Darius Rucker. For more info visit Windy City Smokeout.
Grant Park Music Festival
Held in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, the longtime Chicago summer concert series starts July 2-3 with a mix of crowd pleasers from John Williams’ Summon the Heroes, Scott Joplin’s Overture to Treemonisha and a Robert Lowden arrangement of the Armed Forces Salute to pieces from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, Tchaikovsky’s1812 Overture and John Philip Sousa’sStars and Stripes Forever. The Festival continues with such classics as Rossini’s Overture to Willian Tell on July 7 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 on July 9-10. For complete schedule and other information visit Grant Park Music Festival
Located at the south east end of Highland Park, the historic music festival brings in world renown artists in classic, folk, pop and jazz genres, plus it is the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The July schedule features pianist Jorge Frederico Osorio playing Mozart on July 9 with Marin Alsop conducting the CSO, jazz/pop singer Kurt Elling July 13 and Rock band Counting Crows, Aug. 19. For tickets, complete schedule and other information visit Ravinia.org.
Yes, the City of Chicago has reopened. However, look for your favorite festivals at different times in different formats and at different places. There are more events and new celebrations across the city’s many neighborhoods in 2021.
Don’t be Blue
Because some noted annual fests as Blues, Jazz and Gospel are arranged way ahead of performance dates but COVID interfered, plan on attending each of them in a three-hour, early-evening version this fall. As part of the city’s new “In Tune” program, they all will be free and run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in September 2021.
Gospel is Sept. 3. Hosted by Jonathan McReynolds and Inspiration 1390’s Sonya Blakely and Deandre Paterson, it will include La Shon Brown, the Carson Sisters, Nicole Harris, Illiana Torres and the Tommies Reunion Choir.
Jazz is Sept. 4. Presented by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, it features Ari Brown, Marquis Hill and Lizz Wright.
House celebration is Sept. 11 featuring “Sanitize Your Soul,” a debut Gospel House Choir collaboration between Mark Hubbard and DJ Terry Hunter.
Blues is Sept. 18. The evening will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Alligator Records with Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials and the Nick Moss Band . Also hear Dennis Gruenling, Cash Box Kings, Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch and Wayne Baker Brooks.
Work off the Taste of Chicago treats after July 11. The celebration of Chicago dishes and restaurants starts July 7 but instead of everything happening in Grant Park it will be a week of pop-up food from nearly 40 eateries and take place in neighborhood markets. Plus there are cooking demos, music and community meals with local nonprofit organizations.
Pop ups are July 7, 2 -7 p.m. at Pullman City Market, July 8 from 1-7 p.m. at Austin Town Hall City Market, July 9, at 4-8 p.m. at iWEPA Mercado del Pueblo, and also at 5 -8 p.m. for Taste on Tap at Goose Island Brewery.
They continue July 10 from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. at The Hatchery, and from 10 a.m. -4 p.m. at Eli’s Cheesecake Company and from 1-8 p.m. on 63rd street in the West Englewood neighborhood.
The event culminates July 11 from noon to 3 p.m. with women restaurateurs in Millennium Park.
The city’s new programs include “Chicago Presents” community events; a nine-part House City series in the neighborhoods that helped create the music genre; two Latinx and World Music celebrations; two films and more just-announced special events at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion; and a mash-up of public art and dance at Lurie Garden in Millennium Park.
he Lyric Opera of Chicago has come up with an amazing substitute for the large-scale musical it produces on its large-scale stage at the end of its operatic season.
Titled “the New Classics-Songs from the New Golden Age of Music Theater,” it is about a 70-minute-long mix of dramatic, sad, wistful and powerful show numbers that some listeners will know but others may not find familiar.
And instead of coming from the Lyric’s grand stage, the production was mostly recorded back stage in an intimate, former Civic Opera space.
Hosted by David Chase who also accompanies the singers along with members of the Lyric Orchestra, the program reintroduces some notable musical theater by notable composers.
Vocalist Gavin Creel opens the program with the obscure Stephen Sondheim “What More Do I Need” from Saturday Night followed by Nikkie Renée Daniels’ wistful rendering of the well-known “The Heather on the Hill” from Brigadoon. Norm Lewis then wows with “Stars” from Les Miserables.
Jenn Gambatese changes the mood with “Gimme Gimme” (Love) from Thoroughly Modern Millie and Heath Saunders offers a moving “Something Wonderful” from The King and I.
Jo Lampert puts the best interpretation I’ve heard on “Omar Sharif” from The Band’s Visit and Amanda Castro “flamingo” taps the way to the top of her building with “Raise the Roof” from The Wild Party.
Chase segues to historic references between numbers to the Civic Opera and more show tunes sung by the cast (introduced above) that also include “Love Changes Everything” “I Will Never Leave You,” “Dear Theodosia,” ”Way Back to Paradise,” “I’d Rather be Sailing,” “Popular,” “If Only” and “Rain.”
Guess which shows those songs came from or better yet, click on the production. It premiere this Thursday, June 10 at 7 p.m. CT on Lyric’s Facebook and YouTube channels. For more information visit The New Classics.
The Chicago Auto Show, North America’s largest and longest running auto show, begun in 1901, returns to McCormick Place this summer as a Special Edition, July 15-19, 2021.
Announced earlier today by Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and other officials, the auto show’s announcement comes on the heels of Navy Pier’s recent re-opening the end of April and Ravinia Festival’s announcement that concerts return in early July.
Show goers can expect to see production vehicles such as the Alfa Romeo 4 C, concept vehicles such as Toyota’s GR Hyperspeed Edition and debut vehicles such as the 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.
However, as a special edition that is observing COVID protocols, don’t look for them in the usual places. The show will be held in Mccormick Place’s West Building and it’s outdoor surroundings.
The move not only takes in pandemic concerns but also allows for outdoor test drives and more test tracks and technology demonstrations.
“With strong public health protocols in place, the Chicago Auto Show will be the first large convention to take place in Illinois since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, setting the stage for the safe return of big events in the months to come,” said Gov. Pritzker.
After reminding everyone that the venue was an alternate care facility for COVID-19 cases about this time last year, Mayor Lightfoot said that the change in the pandemic numbers in Illinois made the auto show announcement even “more special.”
She added, “In the same spirit of collaboration between government, healthcare, community, and corporate partners, we are now able to bring conventions back to our beloved convention center in a way that is safe and reflective of our progress in slowing and stopping the spread of this virus. I look forward to seeing the McCormick Place reopen its doors for the Chicago Auto Show this July and further enhance our city’s ongoing Open Chicago initiative.”
The Auto Show website details the following mitigation and safety measures:
a move to Hall F in West Building with 470,000 sq ft of indoor space and 100,000 sq ft of outdoor space;
• timed entrance windows and staggered entry to prevent congestion on the show floor and at arrival;
requirement to wear face masks at all times sanitization stations throughout the event;
contactless delivery for tickets;
temperatures will be scanned,
a medical questionnaire must be filled out before entry is allowed into the event.
The Chicago Auto Show general information line is (630) 495-2282. More show information visit Chicago Auto Show. exposition on the continent. This year marks the 113th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.
If you go
Date and hours: July 15-18, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. and July 19, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Location: McCormick Place, West Building, 2301 S. King Drive, Chicago.
Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021 but reservations fill fast, so figure out something special, now. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La are merely a guide.
Book a package deal at the 5 star Peninsula Chicago, among the city’s top luxury hotel. It has an exceptional spa, large lap pool with great views and a great roof-top lounge.
Or get a room with a view at Sable, a new Hilton hotel. You will be staying on Navy Pier, Chicago’s No. 1 attraction that re-opens April 30, 2021. Plus the hotel has Offshore, the world’s largest roof-top bar.
Stroll Lincoln Park with stops at the Zoo to talk to the animals and the Conservatory for its Spring Garden show, opening May 9. Reservations are needed because of COCID protocols.
Or snag tickets for an architectural tour on the Chicago River. Two popular tours are the Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise’s First Lady.
Do brunch at longtime favorite, the Signature Room at the 95th. The restaurant is atop of what was formerly called the John Hancock Center, a skyscraper now known as 875 N. Michigan Ave.
Or reserve a table (may be on a heated patio) at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago or Schaumburg.
Or look one North Shore suburb north for Gerhard’s, a European style bakery in Lake Forest.
Get Mom a gift certificate for a spa experience. There is likely a spa in her neighborhood but if going downtown Chicago and the oriental-flavored Peninsula is booked consider the spa at the Langham an upscale Chicago hotel with a British accent.
Ooh la la
Flowers and candy have traditionally said “We love you.” The Chicago area has several good florists. Check out Blossoms or AshlandAddison, two popular and highly rated choices.
For candy, a top stop is Windy City Sweets in the Lakeview neighborhood. The only problem is that everything looks so good you’ll end up with stuff to also take home.
Or go to Long Grove Confectionary in suburban Long Grove. A longtime destination, the store also has factory outlets in Buffalo Grove, Wauconda and Chicago. Go back for a factory tour, good sale items and for holiday goodies.
A half century ago, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson pushed for a national day that would jump start legislation and events stopping industrial pollution and remind earth’s residents of the importance of their planet’s health.
First held and celebrated in the United States with marches and programs in April 1970, Earth Day was then established as April 22 by an executive order given in July that year.
It was followed by the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation and led to the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.
Earth Day is now celebrated by towns and institutions around the world. Here are some ways to celebrate and/or participate.
Check your community for cleanup and other activities.
Join the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff League of Women Voters and Lake Forest Open Lands Association to clean up the lakefront April 17 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.. Capacity if 50 people. For tickets needed to meet state protocols and more information visit Earth Day Beach Clean-up. Face mask required. Parking is at lower south beach near boat launch.
The Andersonville neighborhood invites everyone to visit the shops for special promotions during Andersonville in Bloom, April 22-25.
The EarthDay Organization
Earthday.org has three days of activities beginning April 20 and culminating in workshops and speakers on April 22. Among the topics covered are emerging green technologies, climate restoration technologies and reforestation efforts.
Art Institute of Chicago
Celebrate Earth Day with the museum’s virtual programs, live performances, conversations and art activities. Registration is needed for conversations beginning April 21, art activities beginning April 23, and performances beginning April 30. For registration and more information visit AICEarthDay Highlights.
Chicago Botanic Garden
See Earth Day/Chicago botanic Garden for loads of ideas from “Be a citizen scientist” and “Eco-friendly gardening” to “Understanding bio-diversity” and “Conservation and restoration.”
Watching Porchlight Theatre’s “Chicago Sings Rock and Roll Broadway” on Youtube last night, made me realize how much I missed going to Chicago area venues for good musicals and plays.
Well-staged with superb instrumental back-up, the cast takes on the mammoth task of covering musicals through the decades from “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Hair” in the 1960s and “The Wiz” and “Promises Promises” in the 1970s to more recent shows such as “Kinky Boots,” “Waitress,” “Beautiful” and “Head over Heels.”
Past benefit concerts were, among others, covers from Disney, Stephen Sondheim, The Beatles and Motown.
Choosing a song or a couple of stanzas from each show, their theme this year is Rock and Roll but not all music chosen fall in that genre. So, if deciding to tune in to support local artists, Porchlight and, just as important, the theatre’s education arm to area youth, don’t worry if your ear prefers other musical genres.
The benefit is fun to watch and hear because the music ranges from standards to lesser- known songs. You are bound to find a favorite performance. Among mine was Sawyer Smith’s magnificent take on “Wig in a Box” from “Hedwig & the Angry Inch, (1998).
A virtual event that can be viewed through April 18, 2021, Chicago Sings is a fundraiser similar to the broadcasts that have aired since COVID shuttered arts and entertainment venues a year ago, except this event brings the cast and musicians together.
It also includes the presentation of the 2021 Guy Adkins award for “excellence in the advancement of music theatre” to Felicia P. Fields and greetings from several Broadway stars including E. Faye Butler and Sean Allan Krill.
Porchlight Theatre’s “Chicago Sings Rock and Roll Broadway is on YouTube through April 18, 2021. Tickets are $25. Running time is about 90 minutes. For tickets see Porchlight and for information visit Porchlight Music Theatre.
Ravinia, the country’s oldest outdoor music festival, announced today it will be back operating a summer season outside beginning sometime in July.
First opened in 1904, Ravinia Festival had to close its gates last year to protect guests, staff and musicians from the COVID virus. But with the lowering of cases and easing of restrictions it will be doing what it does best, presenting a wide range of good music.in its 36-acre park in Highland Park, IL. Just expect to follow recommended protocols that will be announced along with ticket and program information.
“All of our performances will take place outside in our open air Pavilion with reserved-in-advance, distanced seating offered in the Pavilion, on the Lawn, and al fresco at our dining spaces,” said a Ravinia statement released March 16, 2021.
“We are delighted that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will return in July to its summer home here at Ravinia for its annual six-week summer residency. Our anticipation is doubled with Marin Alsop set to lead seven concerts with the orchestra in her first season as our Chief conductor and curator,” the statement said.
Ravinia’s lineup will b e announced in late April.
Arts and entertainment aficionados who check choreographer, teacher, dancer Terence Marling’s COMMONconservatory site on Instagram will see what is happening now in his unique program and classes.
But if they check back closer to June they will find a date and link for COMMON ‘s production featuring the dancers and choreographers in the full conservatory program. Marling created the conservatory when he returned from a stint in Germany to find that A&E dance jobs disappeared, their venues closed and their funding tumbled.
“Dancers have to do barre or muscles go away. When I came back from Germany I realized everything had shut down but dancers need to do ballet every day. The dancers in the COMMONcoservatory program are close to professional,” said Marling. “They are putting in time in the studio but do not touch one another which in ballet is hard,” he said.
Marling whose own professional dance and choreography career extends back to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in the 1990s, had moved on to Germany’s National Theater Mannheim. There he added dance instruction. Then he went to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as a dancer, choreographer and teacher before becoming rehearsal director. In 2013, he took on directorship of Hubbard Street 2 and toured the company internationally with new works he created and commissioned.
The road to COMMONconservatory started in 2017 with freelance choreography, teaching and staging productions for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Visceral Dance Chicago, A&A Ballet and the Chicago High School for the arts.
Just as important was his choreographing solos in the past few years to be used in auditions and competitions because what COMMONconservatory does is get good dancers prepared for their next career move.
However, Marling also offers daily ballet classes that includes what he calls the Flying Biscuit Show, a live broadcast of the barre portion that viewers could also try.
If going to Classes/COMMON the note about limited space is not a come-on. Dancers or, as Marling likes to say, “artists,” a term he prefers to students because of their high skill level, who want to be in the full conservatory program, have to audition. It was limited to 10 artists this year and may go to 15 next year.
Some of the conservatory program dancers commute from family homes while others moved here from Brazil, Russia, both US coasts and North Carolina.
They are dancers such as Lauryn Masciana who worked with Marling three years ago at Hubbard Street Summer Intensives.
“I enjoy his teaching style and then I had been taking barre classes in his Biscuit program. The classes meant I could keep up dancing and ballet work during the pandemic. It really helped me through the pandemic.
Masciana, a former Fordham University student, had moved back to her parents’ home in New Jersey during the pandemic. She moved to Chicago for the conservatory program.
“His program really helps me toward the next step professionally which hopefully is in Chicago. I really like the contemporary dance that is here. The program is excellent training and also provides networking,” she said.
Her goal? “Step into my professional dance career.”
Dancer Anna Isaacs, a commuter from Elburn, IL where she lives with her family, heard about COMMONconservatory through social media. (Check facebook).
“I was undoubtedly captivated by the program as well as the principles Terry created and believes in,” Isaacs said.
“At the time, I had already enrolled with my former dance studio for the year and didn’t think it was a possibility to audition for COMMON.,” she said.
“I met with Terry later on. He was truly unfeigned and welcoming. He introduced me to the space and offered that I take class with the conservatory for a day. I knew this program was the right fit for me and an entity for furtherance. I joined the COMMON family in January 2020.”
Isaacs is not bothered by her weekly five-day commute. “It is tolerable and it is worth every minute for the exceptional training and guidance I receive. Movement to me is indispensable. I would be adrift in the absence of it. Training with COMMON Conservatory this year has been out of this world.”
She added, “COMMON is unique. Working with many knowledgeable choreographers has sparked an unused artistic creativity and an unrecognized internal curiosity. I have obtained a finer comprehension for why I love this art every day. I am forever thankful to Terry for creating an environment for growth, community, and possibility.”
The program’s itle, COMMONconservatory is more than unique. It’s key to understanding Marling’s philosophy and goals.
“I enjoy juxtaposition as an artist. I really like how differing things shed light on each other. A conservatory brings to mind both serious study of a discipline and also is a rather snobby word, to put it bluntly. COMMON is the opposite of a snobby word and is entirely inclusive,” he said.
“I’m a “new school” teacher. I don’t teach dance with the body shaming, negativity, and verbal abuse that went with dance training in the past. I believe that dance is for everybody, no matter the shape, size or inherent ability. It is something to be shared as a community with joy and curiosity. We all have in common at least some inkling of a compulsion to move our bodies.”
His philosophy is shared by the programs’ choreographers who are also teachers such as Alysia “Allie” Johnson, a full-time member of the Hubbard Street Chicago Dance company who met Marling when he was her teacher. After “testing the waters” elsewhere she returned to Chicago to work for Hubbard. “But now we have a peer relationship,” she said.
As to her choreography style Johnson said, “I rely heavily on rhythms and musicality. Groove is my style.”
Characterizing the group as a wonderful “gumbo” she said “They are all at a high skill level but have different backgrounds, different flavors of experience. ”
She worked with COMMONconservatory in December for about two weeks and will be back in April to refresh the choreography for the June program. Now, Johnson is preparing for a Hubbard Street Chicago program that will stream live March 2, 2021.
“I like performing but also like choreography. I love teaching. I love dancing. No priorities.”
Talking about the dancers she has been working with, Johnson said, “I want to challenge them and they also challenge me. It’s about challenge and comfort. I want them to be able to walk into a room with the confidence that they will be comfortable with the choreography being done.”
For now, Marling is concentrating and pulling all the choreography together so it flows in the June showcase. And while still viewing the dance world clouded by the pandemic he is considering expanding conservatory enrollment to 15 next season.
But his goal? I would like to form my own dance company,” said Marling.