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.”
Get the calendar out. It’s time to plan which Ravinia Festival concerts should be marked down, which ones need tickets ahead of time and which might be good for a picnic on the lawn or a seat in the Pavillion. The 2016 season goes from June 1 through Sept. 16.
Donors can get tickets March 20. Tickets will be available to the public May 8 for June and July concerts and May 10 for August and September programs.
New this year: There are more programs inside Bennett Gordon Hall and the Martin Theatre. The season will celebrate the late conductor, composer, pianist Leonard Bernstein’s 100 anniversary of his birth and ; the 30th anniversary of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (RSMI).
And the dining spaces and menus have been redone. Park View, a contemporary American restaurant featuring local and seasonal dishes is upstairs the dining pavilion. Mirabelle is still there but specializes in guest chef and themed dishes. The casual Ravina Market take-out menu has expanded but kept popular dishes. Tree Top will go in where PNC Private Dining used to be and the Lawn Bar with indoor and outdoor seating for drinks and small plates will be located on the lower level, north side of the dining Pavilion. The FreehlingRoom is still the Donor Dining Club but will add casual fare on pop concert nights.
Ravinia Festival Park is at the south end of Highland Park from Sheridan Road on the east to Green Bay Road on the west. But best option is to take a free shuttle from the Ravinia or Highland Park train station. For tickets, directions and transportation options visit Ravinia.org.
Enjoy the summer by planning now.
Some Program highlights:
Diana Ross, June 2, Anita Baker June 10, Jackson Brown June 15, Seal June 19, Jill Scott debuts at Ravinia June 22, Roger Daltry and the Who’s Tommy come June 23 and June 25 and Bryan Adams performs June 29.
Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang July 8, Zukeerman Trio does Brahms July 11, Joshua Bell and the CSO performs Bernstein “Candide Overture” and “Serenade” plus Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” July 12, The CSO and Chorus do Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on July 14, vocalist Audra McDonald and the CSO do a “Sunday in the Park program for the Ravinia Gala July 15, the annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular is July 22, Misha and Cipa Dichter are in Bette Hall then Leon Fleisher with Katherine Jacobson Fleisher perform Bach and Brahms in the Martin Theatre July 23, Makoto Ozone plays Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” July 24, Jorge Fredrico Osorio is in the Martin Theatre for the Debussy and Ponce concert July 26, a double Bernstein program starts with a Young People’s concert in the morning then features his “Mass” in the evening July 28.
Whoopie Goldberg comes Aug. 3, CSO does Stravinsky, Strauss and with Garrick Ohlsson on piano Mozart’s concerto No. 20 Aug. 9, Steve Martin and Martin Short plusThe Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko are in the Pavilion Aug. 12, Michael Feinstein and Kristin Chenoweth are there Aug. 14, opera stars Frederica Von Stade and Laurie Rubin come Aug. 16, Earth Wind & Fire are in the Pavilion Aug. 17, Sugarland returns Aug. 23, The Beach Boys and Righteous Brothers are in town for an evening of oldies but goodies Aug. 24 there are “Good Vibes with Jason Mraz and Brett Dennen on Aug. 25, Culture Club, B-52s and Thompson Twins perform Aug. 31 and Sep[t. 1
O.A.R. and Matt Nathanson come Sept. 2, Sir James Galway returns Sept. 4, Peter Serkin comes Sept. 5, 50 Cent debuts at Ravinia Sept. 6. Tony Bennett’s stylish songs are Sept.8, “Considering Matthew Shepard by Craig Hella Johnson with the Conspirare chorus (poems set to music to mark the Shepard murder that ledto the Hate Crimes Act Sept . 12 and Los Tigres del Norte end the season Sept. 16.
When winter deals out icicles it’s time to warm the spirit by penciling in great summer calendar dates for 2018.
So, here are some top entertainers coming to Ravinia Festival this summer.
First, Roger Daltrey, the frontman of British rock band The Who, will perform the iconic “Tommy” rock opera with his band June 23 and 25. The Ravinia Festival Orchestra will join them to do “See Me, Feel Me,” “Pinball Wizard” and other classics from “Tommy.”
Tickets for this concert are already available to donors. The public can request tickets beginning Feb. 9. Tickets are, $125 and lawn is $49. Visit Ravinia Details.
Multi Grammy and Oscar award winning composer David Foster comes to Ravinia Aug. 5 Tickets: $80 / $70 Lawn: $27.
Sugarland’s Frankie Ballard and Lindsay Ell will be back Aug. 23 with Jennifer Nettles and Kristian performing their award winning country music. Tickets are $150 / $140 Lawn: $49*
For more information visit Ravinia Announces. For general ticket information visit Ravinia or call (847)266-5000. Ravinia Festival is at 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park.
Clad in signature vanilla sports jacket and broad grin, Bennett entertained cheering crowds inside Ravinia’s Pavillion and around it on the jammed lawns, Friday, a day after turning 91.
“I travel all over but this is my favorite place,” Bennett told the crowd. Indeed, Ravinia Festival is where Bennett has been coming on or day after his Aug. 3 birthday.
Starting with some fine jazz from The Tony Bennett Quartet followed by a few songs from daughter Antonia Bennett, the iconic pop star was introduced as he’s been in recent concerts by the voice of mentor Frank Sinatra saying he’s “the best.”
After a long standing ovation, the crowd was treated to one notable Bennett hit after another from “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Someone Who Needs Me” to “Who can I Turn to,” “Because of You and “The Shadow of Your Smile.”
Some were just a few lines such as “Rags to Riches.” Most others were the whole song.
Sometimes his voice was pure, sometimes, raspy, but Bennett showed he still had it with terrific voice control in amazingly long-held notes. Also, there were nice repeats of key words in his emphatic style as in “The Way You Look Tonight. Tonight! Tonight!”
He did a great “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” with jazz, pop and classical pianist Tim Ray sitting in for this season tour regular Billy Stritch.
Ray, who has accompanied Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt and played with Rufus Reid and with the Boston Pops was fun to watch and listen to during solo turns on the piano.
The concert wasn’t all pop. Bennett moved to jazz with “Stepping Out With My Baby” with Ray, as Bennett pointed out, in the style of Duke Ellington.
The blues feeling came with a gorgeous “In My Solitude” done with Bennett’s long-time guitar player, Gray Sargent. Bennett and Sargent did several songs together as a well-matched pair.
Also good to hear were quartet regulars Marshall Wood on bass and Harold Jones on drums in brief shout-outs.
Then there were the audience chuckles as when Bennett started in with “As I approach the prime of my life” in the fine song, “This Is All I Ask.”
It ends with the wonderful words that seem to sum up this multi grammy-winner’s staying power: “And let the music play, As long as there’s a song to sing, and I will stay younger than Spring.”
But with the last words of what some consider his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” the lights came on and the audience applauded thinking the concert was over. However, Bennett continued the joyous evening with a couple more songs.
When it ended for good, the Pavilion audience kept standing and applauding as Bennett left the stage but encores were not to be. Except for short band solos and riffs, he had sung straight through from 9 to 10 p.m. with seemingly endless energy.
And it was easy to believe the final lyrics of “This Is All I Ask.”
With such top drawing festivals and names as Pitchfork, Windy City Smokeout and Jimmy Buffett (among several others) filling parks and fields all over Chicago this past weekend, you might think that a north suburban music outpost would not be jammed.
Yet Ravinia Festival in Highland Park packed them in for James Arthur, Fitz & The Tantrums and OneRepbulic, Saturday, and its Tchaikovsky Spectacular played by the CSO, Sunday.
“Every inch of space and lawn was filled,” said a One Republic fan describing the Saturday scene.
If understandable for the pop rock genre, it might have come as a surprise to classical music lovers that the same was true on Sunday as visitors kept filing in and looking for even a few inches to sit and picnic.
The luckier folks, or make that those in the know, staked out their space two hours ahead of Sunday’s early, 5 p.m. concert start.
Spread out with a yummy-looking picnic under the trees before the crowds descended were The Nelson family who came from Chesterton and West Lafayette, IN and from Evanston.
“We all came last year,” said Wendy Nelson, Evanston. The rest chimed in with “We enjoyed it so much wanted to do it again,” said Laura Nelson, West Lafayette; “You know, Purdue University,” husband Jeffrey said. They were there with parents Eileen and Roger Nelson, Chesterton. “I’m the patriarch,” said Roger.
By 4 p.m. the lawn was a sea of humanity. After the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, a sterling piano performance of Concerto No. 1 by Simon Trpceskiand and the Francesca da Rimini fantasy, came the 1812 Overture with real cannons in a roped off area.
When the smoke faded and the last note played, some people left to catch the Union Pacific North Line train but that didn’t make much of a dent in the crowd that still enjoyed getting together and picnicking on the lawn.
“Great concert,” said a guy from Glen Ellyn on his way to the parking lot.
Well, there are a lot more chances to come to Ravinia, this summer.
The CSO returns July 18 with Yefim Bronfman playing Brahm’s Piano Conderto No. 2. The orchestra which makes Ravinia its summer home, will be back for several more concerts including July 20-21 to play Beethoven and Sibelius programs.
BTW, Tony Bennett returns Aug. 4. Hootie & the Blowfish founder Darius Rucker is at Ravinia the next night, Aug. 5.
Santana, the famed guitarist of Latin, rock an jazz fusion, is there Aug. 11-12 and heartland rocker/rock and roll hall-of-famer John Mellencamp is coming for the first time to Ravinia Aug. 26-27.
Ravinia Festival is at 418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. For more schedule information, tickets, prices and parking, call (847) 266-5000 and visit Ravinia.
From bike riding to strawberry munching and concerts in a garden to music on a lawn, summer fun is tempting us to find our outdoor muse during or after work.
Bike to work
First, don’t be surprised if you see more groups of bikers around Chicago, this week. The annual Bike commuter Challenger is upon us asking people to ride a bike to work instead of a train or car. To participate in its fun events and “pit stops” go to Bikedown to register.
TGI M/T after work music
Then, for a different way to enjoy a balmy early evening, check out music with a Latin or Swing beat at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Different nights and different weeks feature different musical sounds and bands. For example, Mondays at 5:30 p.m. there are carillon bells and Tuesday, the music shifts over to the Esplanade for bluegrass or big band sounds.
Visit Chicago Botanic Garden Evenings for more information. The concerts are free but unless you are a member there is a parking fee per car. The Chicago Botanic Garden is east of Edens Expressway at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe.
After-work stress-relieving music
Or get a lawn ticket (best price is ahead of time, not at the gate) to hear perfect after-work music at Ravinia Festival in Highland park.
The Julliard String Quartet is June 20. It’s in the Martin Theatre but usually those programs are broadcast on the lawn.
In the Pavilion are Gypsy Kings June 23, Common June 24, Michael McDonald and Boz Scraggs June 27 and Diana Krall June 28.
Get out the calendar to mark the 2017 summer music festivals you hope to catch. Copy the ticket info and good luck.
First, U2 + The Lumineers will be at Soldier Field June 3-4. Yes, they will be doing “The Joshua Tree” in its entirety.See U2 + The Lumineers
Then the Chicago Blues Festival is in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 Randolph St.) in Millennium Park June 9-11. It’s free admission. Headliners include Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues with special guest James Cotton. Also headlining are Rhymefest, William Bell, Gary Clark Jr., Rhiannon Giddens and Ronnie Baker Brooks. For tickets and other info visit Blues.
Next, is Ravinia, the wonderful outdoor music park in Highland Park. For the full schedule click Ravinia.
John Legend’s “Darkness and Light Tour” is June 10. It opens with Grammy-nominated artist Gallant.
The multi-Oscar-nominated film,”La La Land,” will be shown under the stars on large screens accompanied by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Stelluto on June 18.
Gipsy Kings, a group that blends flamenco with pop and Latin rhythms comes Friday, June 23.
Diana Krall, a five-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist and vocalist comes June 28,
The Moody Blues do “Days of Future Passed” June 30.
OneRepublic & Fitz and The Tantrums are on stage July 14-15.
Blondie and Garbage start their 2017 “Rage and Rapture” tour at Ravinia July 22.
American Acoustic with Punch Brothers, I’m With Her and Julian Lage are Aug. 14.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 9. Donors can request tickets March 22 depending on their giving level. For more information including early request dates. Visit Ravinia.
The Pitchfork Music Festival is back in Union Park July 14-16. Visit Pitchfork Music Festival Headliners include. LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Called Quest and Solange
In addition Pitchfork is collaborating with Saint Heron, for an art installation, film screening, artist talks, late night jazz jam sessions. Visit Pitchfork for tickets and collaboration sites.
Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park Aug. 3-6. Visit Lolla for tickets and
Ravinia Festival was jammed inside the pavilion and out on the lawn last Saturday, but with Tony Bennett caressing the “mic” backed by his outstanding jazz/pop quartet, the atmosphere was nightclub intimate.