Ravinia Festival highlights and ticket options

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

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.

Jodie Jacobs

Ravinia Festival creates a chief conductor and curator position helmed by Marin Alsop

Marin Alsop conducted the CSO’s Bernstein and Mahler program in the Pavilion at Ravinia Festival August 19. (Patrick Gipson/Ravinia photo)
Marin Alsop conducted the CSO’s Bernstein and Mahler program in the Pavilion at Ravinia Festival August 19. (Patrick Gipson/Ravinia photo)

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.

Continue reading “Ravinia Festival creates a chief conductor and curator position helmed by Marin Alsop”

Ravinia tickets to Train concert available in January

 

 Ravinia Festival Gate at the Metra train stop, (Photo by J Jacobs)
Ravinia Festival Gate at the Metra train stop, (Photo by J Jacobs)

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.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

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 from an art fest and Ravinia to Edge Fest and Egypt

 

The Martin Theater is near the Ravinia Festival Gate at the Metra train stop, accessible by St. Johns Avenue and the Green Bay Road parking lot plus Ravinia bus shuttles. (Photo by J Jacobs)
The Martin Theatre  is near the Ravinia Festival Gate at the Metra train stop, accessible by St. Johns Avenue and the Green Bay Road parking lot plus Ravinia bus shuttles. (Photo by J Jacobs)

 

Celebrate summer while it’s here.  This weekend, art booths fill downtown Glencoe and Renee Fleming is doing Stoppard’s “Penelope” at Ravinia. Next week the Oriental Institute in Hyde Park has Hieroglyphics for kids and the Edgewater neighborhood celebrates summer with food,beverages and music

 

What: Festival of Art

When: July 27-28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

Where: Center point is 700 Vernon Ave. near Park Avenue west of Green Bay Road in north suburban Glencoe.

Admission: free

Info at: Amdur Productions/Glencoe.

 

What: Renee Fleming and actress Jennifer Ehle perform Tom Stoppard’s and Andre Previn’s “Penelope” (based on Homer’s Odyseey) at Ravinia Festival.

When: July 28, 4 p.m.

Where: Martin Theatre and carried on large screens on the lawn at Ravinia Festival Park in north suburban Highland Park between Green Bay and Sheridan Roads north of Lake Cook Road.

Admission: Lawn $10 (as of this printing the Martin is sold out)

Info at: Ravinia Festival/Renee Fleming

 

What: Intro to Hieroglyphs Family Workshop with an Egyptologist (recommended for ages 8-12), then go into the Oriental Institute’s galleries to translate artifacts.

When: Aug. 1, 10:30a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1155 E. 58th St., Chicago

Admission: Registration needed. General $14, members $10 (child and one adult)

Info at: Intro to Hieroglyphs

 

What: EdgeFest, a music, food, brews party thrown by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce

When: Aug. 3-4 from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday (Pet Parade Sunday 4 p.m.

Where: Broadway from Thorndale to Ardmore

Admission: Suggested $5 donation at gate (donors receive community discount Edge Card.

Info at: Edgewater/Edgefest.

 

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

 

CSO Ravinia summer ends with superb Bernstein and Mahler

 

Marin Alsop conducted the CSO's Bernstein and Mahler program in the Pavilion at Ravinia Festival August 19. (Patrick Gipson/Ravinia photo)
Marin Alsop conducted the CSO’s Bernstein and Mahler program in the Pavilion at Ravinia Festival August 19. (Patrick Gipson/Ravinia photo)

The summer night was a glorious mid 70’s temperature with dappled sunlight filtering through the trees at Ravinia Festival. Picnickers spread their repasts across the grass behind the Pavilion and out across what patrons call The Lawn.

The music emanating from the Pavilion was an inspired duo of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”) that opened the program, followed by Mahler’s  Symphony No. 1. The Bernstein work was part of Ravinia’s tribute to the legendary composer/conductor on the anniversary of his 100th birthday.

Brilliantly played by the CSO and conducted by Marin Alsop, the works were well paired for their religious themes. Both first symphonies contained passages whose roots went back to Jewish ceremonial and folk music and both symphonies contained passages of protest.

Pingree music lovers Joe and Trish like to listen to Ravinia programs while picnicking on the grounds. (JJacobs photo)
Pingree music lovers Joe and Trish like to listen to Ravinia programs while picnicking on the grounds. (JJacobs photo)

But where Bernstein’s piece ended with “Lamentation” sung by mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges, the Mahler concluded with a triumphal coda set against nature sounds originally heard in the introduction that left picnickers happily lingering a few minutes longer.

“Wasn’t that beautiful” said Trish who had come with husband Joe from Pingree Grove west of Elgin. “We enjoy just being out here,” she had said earlier after they set up under trees bordering the Lawn.

Talking about the high quality of the program and the low lawn price, Joe pointed out, “It’s a deal.”

Wayne, IL residents Cindy and Jim, L, enjoy picnicking at a CSO concert at Ravinia Festival with Kildeer friends Steve and Valerie. (JJacobs photo)
Wayne, IL residents Cindy and Jim, L, enjoy picnicking at a CSO concert at Ravinia Festival with Kildeer friends Steve and Valerie. (JJacobs photo)

Also coming in from Chicago’s western suburbs were Cindy and Jim from Wayne with Valerie and Steve from Kildeer whom they met at Ravinia a few years ago. “We love it here” said Valerie.

“We try to come anytime the CSO is playing,” said Cindy who added that she and Jim have been coming to Ravinia since 1982.

By the way, Sunday, Aug. 19 was the last Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at Ravinia for the 2018 season. For Ravinia’s program during the remaining season visit Ravinia.  The Ravinia Festival is between Sheridan Road and Green Bay Road just north of Lake Cook Road at 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park.

Jodie Jacobs

Remarkable ‘Mass’ performance reveals another Bernstein dimension

Paulo Szot as the Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein's Mass at Ravinia Festival (Ohotos by Patrick Gipson)
Paulo Szot as the Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass at Ravinia Festival (Photos by Patrick Gipson)

To report that Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” performed under the baton of Marin Alsop and directed by Kevin Newbury at Ravinia Festival July 28, received a long standing ovation would merely relate the overwhelming response to this seldom done, lesser known work.

Even though it is an appropriate bow to Bernstein on the anniversary of his 100th birthday, it is hoped that “Mass” will be presented more often.

Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the 1971 Kennedy Center opening, “Mass” goes way beyond a tribute to John F. Kennedy and his religion. As Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein, explained during a pre-concert talk Saturday, the work is autobiographical.

The music is really a journey that takes the audience from dutiful respect to protest, from moody contemplation to rapture, from disbelief and madness to acceptance and peace.

At Ravinia, it was accomplished through the extraordinary interpretation of Brazilian operatic baritone Paulo Szot as the Celebrant.

The operatic world knows of Szot through his appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and other houses. But he is also perfect for the Bernstein Celebrant role because “Mass” is described in its subtitle as  “A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers. Szot received the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance as Emile De Becque in the 2008 revival of “South Pacific.”

But this is a also a work best performed with several singers, musicians and several talented players.

Bernstein's Mass at Ravinia
Bernstein’s Mass at Ravinia

To fill those roles Ravinia pulled in the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Highland Park High School Marching Band and a really fine “Street Chorus” of Sumayya Ali, Aaron Blake, Matt Boehler, John Clay III, Nicholas Cunningham, Alexander Elliot, Erica Everett, Nicole Fragala, Devon Guthrie, Devin Ilaw, Morgan James, Alexa Jarvis, Mykal Kilgore, Meredith Lustig, Timothy McDevitt, Michael Maliakel, Barrie Lobo McLain, Kaitlin Mesh, James Onstad, Michael Preacely, Isabel Santiago and Karim Sulayman.

A shout-out has to go to Altar Children Wyatt Parr and Myra Sahal. It was Parr’s “Lauda, Laude” that brought peace to the Celebrant and congregation on stage and wonderment to audiences on the grass who didn’t catch everything happening on stage.

However, it was the brilliant interpretation of Bernstein’s conflicting, pensive and joyous mood swings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Alsop that moved the journey along.

Sadly, Ravinia’s “Mass” was a one-night experience but there are two more Bernstein programs on the schedule this summer. “Bernstein and Friends” will present songs and arias by Nadine Sierra and Michael Fabiano in the Martin Theatre, Aug. 10 that includes two Bernstein pieces.

Then Marin alsop will return to the Pavilion on Aug. 19 with the CSO playing the First Symphonies of Bernstein and Mahler.

Ravinia Festival is at 418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. For tickets and other information call (847) 266-5100 and visit Ravinia Tickets.

For the complete Ravinia schedule visit Ravinia Calendar.

Jodie Jacobs

Related: Massive Bernstein “Mass” comes to Ravinia

 

 

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Massive Leonard Bernstein ‘Mass’ comes to Ravinia

Ravinia Festival (Jodie Jacobs photo)
Ravinia Festival (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Several orchestral works by Leonard Bernstein, the composer popularly known in musical theater circles for “West Side Story” can be heard at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park as part of a world-wide celebration of the 100 birthday of this musical genius (Aug. 25-1918-Oct. 14, 1990).

On the Ravinia schedule is “Mass,”commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the 1971 opening of the Kennedy Center. The work will now be making its CSO and Ravinia debut with a star-studded cast, July 28, 2018.

When the Lyric Opera of Chicago celebrated Bernstein’s birthday with his one-act opera, “Trouble in Tahiti” plus other vocal works, March 10 this year, Lyric Dramaturg Roger Pines said during a phone interview, “I think it will be revelatory.”

The same will undoubtedly be true of “Mass.”

Continue reading “Massive Leonard Bernstein ‘Mass’ comes to Ravinia”