One of the most distinctive voices in rock’s entire history also happens to be among the most prolific and eclectic since bursting out of Seattle’s indie scene three decades ago. Between his time fronting alternative icons Soundgarden, short-lived but beloved side project Temple of the Dog (including future members of Pearl Jam), and the post-millennial hard rock supergroup Audioslave (featuring Rage Against the Machine’s rhythm section)—not to mention an immensely successful solo career—Chris Cornell has thus far sold a staggering 30 million albums and been a top box office draw in each incarnation. So how in the world does the singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, and lyricist face the daunting task of sculpting a show to address each of those vital eras, while also celebrating his critically lauded new album Higher Truth throughout the course of a single evening?
Living my formative years during the ’60s, my immersion into popular music came around the time of what came to be known as “protest songs.” Where earlier rock and pop songs were mainly concerned with teenage romance and all the problems associated with it—rejection, parental disapproval, rivals in love—pop artists started addressing serious social concerns, such as civil rights and the developing war in Vietnam.
Ravinia unveiled its latest work of art on Saturday, the aquatic sculpture Chorus, created by WET, Inc. Nestled into the festival’s grand entrance, the fountain and light show, which can be programmed to music, makes for a thrilling reveal when patrons emerge from the train underpass while walking to the festival’s main gate.
We know what whole notes look like, and we can recognize the curly fanciness of the treble clef and the flags on eighth notes. But the question on the minds of so many music lovers as they exuded excitement over Ravinia’s Chicago premiere of Tan Dun’s Water Passion last week was just exactly how the exotic sounds created by the chorus are expressed in the score so that the piece can be performed by different ensembles in different venues around the world.
By John Schauer
Sometimes the power of a film can sneak up on you and catch you by surprise. That was the experience I had when I saw James Cameron’s film Titanic—for the third time.
By John Schauer
A long time ago, when I was working as a journalist in California, I came to Ravinia to do a feature interview with James Levine, who was Ravinia’s music director at that time, and in the course of the interview he said something that still haunts me today, as if somehow he sensed what would happen as a result of “social media”—which of course did not yet exist at that time.
June 9, 1991: Lionel Hampton's Final Appearance at Ravinia
Lionel Hampton made his final appearance at Ravinia 25 years ago, by which time he had long established himself as one of the greatest jazz bandleaders of the 20th century.
By Thomas May
In 2013 Tan Dun traveled to the Thomaskirche in Leipzig to conduct his Water Passion in the very space where J.S. Bach had introduced the Saint Matthew Passion nearly three centuries ago (most likely in 1727). The gesture underlined the kind of cross-cultural counterpoint that lies at the heart of the Chinese composer’s oratorio. The full title reads Water Passion after Saint Matthew, yet Tan also models his work on his reading of Bach’s monumental precedent; it might even be titled Water Passion after Saint Matthew after Bach—the second “after” being taken simultaneously in its dual senses of “according to” and “post-dating” (for a contemporary world).
Frankie—to my parents’ generation, that meant “Sinatra.” To my generation, it meant “Valli & the Four Seasons.” Although as with so many other things in life, I was a bit late in coming to this party.
Blank on Blank is a fantastic online series from PBS that has been digging up old tape-recorded interviews with celebrities and bringing them to life through the magic of animation. As fortune would have it, many of the subjects of the interviews are Ravinia favorites, from 2016 season artists Garrison Keillor and Dolly Parton to such past legends as Louie Armstrong and Janis Joplin. Below are selections from this series that gives you a personal glimpse into the lives of these celebrated cultural figures.