Although Ravinia Park originally served as an upscale destination for passengers of the new Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Railroad in 1904, within a few years it became apparent that the enterprise was not profitable, and the railroad company looked to unload the Highland Park property it owned. Fearing the site would devolve into a cheap amusement park, local residents purchased the land and in 1911 established The Ravinia Company, under whose supervision the park became primarily a summer venue for classical music. Performances of operatic music began to dominate the repertoire, and by the end of the decade Ravinia had established a reputation as summer opera capital of the world. From June 30 to September 3 of 1917, the year this photo was taken, Ravinia presented 54 performances featuring scenes and acts from no fewer than 20 different operas.
This fall Ravinia is working on three projects recently approved by Highland Park City Council: rebuilding the north bus turnaround to make it safer and more efficient, reducing noise and exhaust; refacing the back of the Harza Building to match the south entrance; and widening the south parking lot gate to the same width as the street that feeds it, removing the bottleneck. For more information: click here
Ravinia is developing a new section of its website called Kid Zone, geared for kids ages 5–10. One of its functions will be to share the Ravinia-inspired art, drawings and writings about music online with other festival-loving children. This work could include reviews of concerts, short prose and poetry about music, and drawings of the park.
Please e-mail submissions to email@example.com.
The Ravinia Associates Board will host its most important event, the annual Music Matters fundraising dinner, dance and auction at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Radisson Blu Aqua, 221 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago. Performing live will be one of Chicago’s most popular bands, the high-energy Maggie Speaks. Proceeds from this spirited black-tie event support the not-for-profit Ravinia Festival’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs. Last year’s event grossed a record $494,214 for the programs, which reach 75,000 people in Cook and Lake Counties, largely in underserved Chicago Public Schools. Each year, a person or group who has made a tremendous impact on Ravinia’s education programs is honored at Music Matters. This year’s honoree will be the man who actually gave REACH*TEACH*PLAY its name, Welz Kauffman, who celebrates his 15th anniversary as President and CEO of Ravinia in 2015.
We were saddened to learn on Monday of the passing of the great composer Stephen Paulus. He suffered a stroke last summer, mere weeks before he was to join the faculty of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (RSMI) to work with our fellows in the Program for Singers. Stephen was one of seven composers commissioned to write a song to commemorate the 25th anniversary of RSMI in 2013, and his song, “Was It All a Dream,” was premiered in Bennett Gordon Hall by bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana and pianist Renate Rohlfing on August 12 of that year. This was one of the last compositions of a prolific and celebrated career. Listen to Musa's performance on InstantEncore.