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.
Music will again be heard in the Pritzker Pavilion, across the road at Orchestra Hall and north of the city at Ravinia in Highland Park. The openings this summer come as Chicago and Illinois allow more public gatherings because of the reduction in COVID cases and increase in vaccinations.
What will be different is ticketing and number of people allowed so check their websites.
Opening night is 8 p.m., July 9, 2021.with conductor Marin Alsop, pianist Jorge Frederico Osorio and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Pavilion. The program is composer Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7. .Tickets are $35-$145 Pavilion and $15 on the Lawn.
What you need to know
The season contains 64 concerts from June through September with the earliest programs free streaming live with no park admittance and a free July 3 “thank-you” concert to invitees. Then the schedule continues with a diverse program.
Tickets are divided into two parts with the first half from July to Aug. 15 going on sale to the public beginning June 15 at Ravinia.org. Donors can buy tickets beginning May 13 depending on level of contribution. The second half concerts are on sale July 21. Check Ravinia Festival Calendar and Tickets for more information. For Donor ticket times visit Ravinia/DonationLevels. Scroll down to donor timelines.
Ravinia Festival is just north of Lake cook Road betgween Green Bay Road and sheridan Road in Highland Park. Attendees are encourage to take the Metra which stops at the Ravinia’s main gate.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is welcoming audiences back to Orchestra Hall with the opening concert on May 27, 2021 with a special tribute to healthcare workers from Rush University System for Health.
According to a CSOA statement, three distinct programs created with artistic guidance by Music Director Riccardo Muti, will be presented May 27 through June 13. Featuring music for brass and percussion, string ensembles and orchestra, they will be led respectively by conductors Michael Mulcahy, Erina Yashima and Edo de Waart on consecutive weekends. Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 1:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
What you need to know
Ticket availability is limited due to current restrictions on audience capacities for performance venues. Tickets for the CSO’s May and June concerts go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. CDT on May 11, 2021, and will be available at cso.org or by calling 312-294-3000. For protocol and more ticketing information visit CSO.org/SafeandSound.
The concerts are in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
Grant Park Music Festival
The music festival opens Fourth of July weekend in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion with Independence Day Salute programs beginning July 2 at 6:30 p.m. The opening concert features the Grant Park Orchestra and conductors Carlos Kalmar and Christopher Bell.
The program includes
John Williams: Summon the Heroes Scott Joplin: Overture to Treemonisha
Arr. Robert Lowden: Armed Forces Salute Florence Price:Dances in the Canebrakes Leonard Bernstein: Selections from West Side Story, George Walker: Lyric for Strings, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture
John Philip Sousa: Stars and Stripes Forever. For whole program and season visit 2021 Season :: Grant Park Music Festival. For more information visit Grant Park Festival.
What you need to know
Seats are free but due to crowd restrictions, reservations are required for the Seating Bowl and on the Great Lawn. Reservations may be made online or by phone. Passes will be touch-free and issued with a barcode to be printed at home or displayed on smartphone. Health & Safety protocols—masks are mandatory—in order to gain entry to the Pavilion.
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.
To keep the music going Ravinia Festival has been broadcasting excellent concerts on Friday nights. However, the one coming up is particularly special given that the artist, pianist Leon Fleisher, won’t be heard live again. Fleisher died at age 92 on Aug. 2, 2020.
In a tribute to Fleisher, Ravinia Festival will do a broadcast of a past concert, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. CT on WFMT.
The program will bring back the “Leon Fleisher and Friends” program that celebrated his 90th birthda, performed and recorded July 23, 2018 in Ravinia’s Martin Theatre.
“Leon Fleisher was a great artist. His integrity and commitment to truth, his unerring sense of proportion, his larger-than-life persona, the sheer beauty of his sound, and the power of conviction in his playing were unparalleled and mesmerizing,” said Miriam Fried, director of the Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (RSMI) Program for Piano & Strings. Fleisher had been a program faculty member for 24 summers.
The birthday concert features Fleisher’s playing “Sheep May Safely Graze” from Bach’s “Birthday” Cantata No. 208 and Kirchner’s “For the Left Hand” written for Fleisher in 1995.
It also includes his wife, pianist Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, joining him in the four-hands piece of Schubert’s Fantasy D. 940 and Ravel’s La Valse.
In addition, the Argus Quartet and bassist Kit Polenperform alongside Fleisher in an arrangement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12, K. 385p. The Argus Quartet was in residence at RSMI in 2017 and had won the M-Prize and Victor Elmaleh competitions later that year.
It doesn’t matter that some of the memorable concerts conducted by Pierre Boulez or Sir Georg Solti were during the 1990s. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has pulled some of their programs from the Rosenthal Archives so that music aficionados still have great music to enjoy while Orchestra Hall is dark.
Calling the initiative “Gems From the Vault,” the online program lists historic broadcasts available with a click on a free subscribe link.
Among the offerings is Boulez conducting a 1999 concert that starts with Stravinsky’s The Song of the Nightingale followed by CSO principal harpist Sarah Bullen with Debussy’s Sacred and Profane Dances then concluding with Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.
Another CSO initiative brings its musicians and guests from their homes to yours.
Ravinia Festival has joined the growing list of arts organizations presenting special programs while their in-person venues are shuttered. Dubbed RaviniaTV, the program is a 20-minute weekly variety show that can be found on YouTube and Facebook. Fridays at 7 p.m. CDT.
The series starts with Ramsey Lewis performing from home on July 3 and with Chicago performances recorded last year.
Future episodes will include CSO concertmaster Robert Chen, pianist Kevin cole, vocalist Sylvia McNair, and other performers.
“It broke our hearts when the Covid pandemic forced Ravinia to cancel a season for the first time since the Great Depression, so the whole team got together to create ways to stay connected to the Ravinia Family, our artists, and audiences in what would otherwise be our silent summer,” said Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman.
“So many of the longtime legends, as well as nascent stars, associated with Ravinia shared the same sense of urgency to keep the music playing as we all struggle with the hardships of this strange new reality. The solution was a show that not only shares music but offers a casual, conversational feeling like you would have on the Lawn at Ravinia,” Kauffman said.
The series, the brain child of Ravinia Communications Director Nick Pullia, is a mix of new, past, home and in-house (on Ravinia’s stage) concerts.
Episodes also have interviews with such guests as Ravinia Chief Conductor and Curator Marin Alsop and such topics as how civil unrest and the pandemic and its economic fallout might affect the art produced in this era, or how to help your kids keep sane while social distancing.
So much has moved to virtual experiences that it is arguably easy to miss another fundraising concert. However, Ravinia fans who miss their picnic on the lawn this summer have a chance to create a unique, virtual experience, this Saturday.
Ravinia is holding “Living Room Lawn Party” at 8 p.m. CDT on June 27, 2020 that features Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress/singer Kristin Chenoweth as the emcee.
A pre-show slideshow starts at 7:45 followed by performances from Chenoweth, soprano Patricia Racette, pianist Kevin Cole and Jazz artist Ramsey Lewis with Ravinia Jazz scholars, plus other entertainers.
Sponsored by Allstate, BMO, The Dancing Skies Foundation, and the Ravinia Women’s Board, Living Room Lawn Party will benefit the non-for-profit festival and its mission, especially its efforts to bring music back into schools through its Reach Teach Play education programs serving more than 85,000 community members across Lake and Cook Counties. Even though those programs are virtual now, Ravinia is ensuring music education remains accessible and alive (and fun) for all students, according to a Ravinia Festival statement.
“Music is a vital part of our students’ lives, and although they are not meeting with teachers and peers in person right now, it has not stopped us from providing the support and guidance to continue to musically enrich them,” said Ravinia Festival President and CEO Welz Kauffman.
“From moving our in-person programs to a virtual setting, to providing easy access to sessions and lessons on YouTube to our students, parents and educators and to mobilizing the entire Ravinia Family to assemble and deliver musical care packages, we continue to keep music alive for all,” said Kauffman. Listeners tune in to the Living Room Lawn Party at Ravinia.org/LawnParty.
If you have been to Ravinia Festival, the Highland Park summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a popular outdoor venue of pop, jazz, folk and classical music entertainers, you likely remember lawn picnics under the stars or sitting in the Pavilion to catch a favorite recording artist.
But today, May 1, 2020, Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kaufman announced that the 2020 season has been canceled to protect the health and safety of its audiences, artists, staff and neighbors.
“Out lengthy and thorough discourse on this topic has brought us to the conclusion that it is impossible to move ahead with the season, “ said Kauffman referring to discussions with the Ravinia Board of Trustees and volunteers.
He also noted that Ravinia had been working with guest artists since February on how to proceed including rebooking performers in future seasons.
On the docket for this year were more than 120 programs from June 12 through Sept. 16 plus the Steans Music Institute, which will also be closed.
Ravinia, the oldest operating festival since 1904 had only canceled seasons from 1932 to 1935 due to the Great Depression.
Ticket holder options include refunds, vouchers for future programs and changing them to what would be much appreciated tax-donations.
The concert recording of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” announced earlier this year, is still scheduled for its PBS broadcast May 15. Kauffman added that Ravinia is also developing other virtual experiences, such as classes and lectures geared to students of all ages.
“The lives of these young students have been thrown in total disarray, so it is important that Ravinia helps where it can to provide the structure of these virtual classrooms. Our programs give young people a means of expression and connection with each other and their own quarantined families. We teach them that music is their superpower, and what better time than now to have a superpower?” Kauffman said.
He was joined in the announcement by Ravinia Board Chairman Don Civgin who said, “The crisis created by the Covid pandemic has impacted so much of our lives in dramatic ways. Ravinia will do its part in helping the nation recover.”
Civgin added,“We will celebrate that recovery with music under the stars next summer.”
If looking for something to distract from COVID-19 closings take a look at what Ravinia Festival, the famed primarily outdoor music venue has on its l2020 Calendar.
Even a brief scan shows that pop stars such as Sheryl Crow and Carrie Underwood, folk icons Arlo Guthrie and Judy Collins, hip hop band The Roots, rock ‘n roll musician John Fogerty, pop-rock band Train, and classicalists pianist Jorge Federico Osorio and violinist Midori are on the schedule.
Plus, Ravinia’s newly appointed conductor and curator Marin Alsop will be conducting the CSO in an all Rachmaninoff evening with Lukass Vondracek playing the Rach 3, Itzhak Perlman will play the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and the next day conduct the CSO for Ravinia’s annual Tchaikovsky spectacular.
Ravinia canceled events before June 1 due to the coronavirus but has said nothing so far, about the regular programing after June 1. Instead, its statement read: “Ticket sales to Ravinia’s summer lineup will occur as planned, with donors having access as early as March 17.”
April 28 is the date when the public can get tickets for the June and July concerts. August and September concerts go on sale April 29.
Tip: Ravinia goers sometimes become donors because the hottest tickets go quickly, Click Ravinia/Fund for the donor fee structure and what each level offers.
The Ravinia Festival is at the south end of North Suburban Highland Park between Sheriday and Green Bay Rds, just north of Lake Cook Road. For more Ravinia information visit Ravinia.
Ravinia goers may recall that Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonyh No. 1 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 were brilliantly played by the CSO and conducted by Marin Alsop in 2018. They may also remember that the conductor of the highly lauded Bernstein “Mass” performed July 2017 was also conducted by Alsop. The final protégé of Leonard Bernstein, Alsop was appointed in 2018 to curate Ravinia’s multi-season celebration of Bernstein.
This week, Ravinia announced that its Board of Trustees has named the highly regarded Alsop to the new position of Chief Conductor and Curator of Ravina Fesival beginning with the 2020 season.
If you want to see Train, that multiple Grammy award band at Ravinia this summer, be ready to grab your tickets in the next couple of weeks.
The calendar says January but Ravinia Festival in Highland Park has already scheduled Train, a big summer draw, for Aug. 21-22. However, tickets to the sure-to-sell-out concert are going on sale to Ravinia donors at the Patron level and above beginning Jan. 17, 2020 and to the public Jan. 24. The place to go for tickets is Ravinia.org.
Featuring frontman Patrick Monahan, guitarist Luis Maldonado, bassist/singer Hector Maldonado, keyboardist/guitarist Jerry Becker, drummer Matt Musty, and backup singers Sakai Smith and Nikita Houston, Train has quickly sold out in the past.
Among their hit singles are “Calling All Angels,” “Get to Me,” “Ordinary” from Spider-Man 2, “Meet Virginia,” “Drops of Jupiter,” and “Hey, Soul Sister.”
The complete Ravinia season will be announced on March 12 but if you go to the Ravina site now look for winter concerts in Bennett Hall. “Coming to America: Songs of American Immigrants” will be in Bennett on Jan. 25.