Thursday
Aug032017

Sistema Ravinia Student Plays in National Take a Stand Festival Orchestra


A hundred young people between the ages of 12 and 17, representing the diversity and inclusivity that we long to see in classical music, performed together in a festival orchestra at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Walt Disney Hall on Saturday, July 22. The orchestra comprised students from El Sistema–inspired programs around the country who were selected by audition, including one of Ravinia’s own—13-year-old Michael Robinson! The French horn player’s only access to music education has been through the Sistema Ravinia program at Catalyst Circle Rock School on Chicago’s West Side.

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Wednesday
Aug022017

Rewind: August 5, 1937


Now in its ninth consecutive decade, the musical partnership between Ravinia and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra continues to be a uniquely fulfilling one, with the six-week summer residency of the orchestra regularly featuring about as many programs as might be heard downtown over the rest of the year.

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Tuesday
Aug012017

Nadine Sierra: A Soprano Singing for Her Self in the Seats

Nadine Sierra first came to my attention some years ago while researching an article about singer education for Opera News. At the time, she was an apprentice in the Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera. In conversations with various educators and administrators, Sierra’s name kept popping up as an example of an aspiring singer with the rare combination of qualities to succeed in classical music. Those were prescient impressions. In the few years since, the delectable Sierra’s luminescent soprano voice has conquered the Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Berlin State Opera, and that pinnacle of vocal accomplishment, Milan’s La Scala, among many others.

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Friday
Jul282017

Huckleberry Friends: Audrey, Henry and Me

I grabbed the ad and flew to the mezzanine level of the house, where technicians and grips were arranging lights and cables. When I approached one and asked, “Do you think I could get Miss Hepburn to autograph this for me?” the grip answered, “Why not ask her yourself? She’s right over there.” I hadn’t even noticed her diminutive figure sitting on the stairs studying her script, and although I didn’t want to cause any disruption in the production, I hurriedly went over and blurted out, “Miss Hepburn, I’m a huge fan of yours and have had this photo in my office for years. Would you please sign it ‘To John’?”

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Tuesday
Jul252017

Bach to Bach: Going for Baroque is an Instrumental Decision

A significant debate in the performance of classical music that originated in the mid-20th century was whether or not to play Baroque-era music on 18th-century instruments or on their modern-day counterparts.

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Monday
Jul242017

The Vogue Violinist from the Small Town Down Under Makes His CSO Debut

Ray Chen is a 28-year-old violinist with a white-hot career. He recently signed a major recording deal and multimedia partnership with Decca Classics, noted critics sing his praises, and he’s followed by over two million fans on SoundCloud.

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Monday
Jul242017

Rewind: August 1, 1967


At a time when conflict with Russia weighed heavily on many minds—no, not today; during the mid-20th century—there was one thing that the then-Communist nation and the United States could agree upon: Van Cliburn was a great musician. In 1958, as the Cold War was escalating, Moscow inaugurated what is still today one of the most closely watched events in classical music, the International Tchaikovsky Competition.

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Thursday
Jul202017

To Every Thing There Is a Season: The Four Seasons have inspired much more than small talk

If a beauty pageant was held for the orchestral works of the Baroque period, odds are the hands-down winner would be Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the set of four violin concertos that the Cleveland-based Baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire will perform in the Martin Theatre on July 27, replete with the period flavor of their 1725 publishing. Probably the only works that might come close in a popular vote would be Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concertos and Handel’s Water Music, but Vivaldi’s Four Seasons have entered the collective consciousness as few musical works ever have.

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Wednesday
Jul192017

One Nation, Under Jean: Sibelius Made the Music Finland Had All Along

It doesn’t happen often, but at a few crucial points in human history, musicians and composers have found themselves playing outsized roles in world politics.

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Tuesday
Jul182017

Buzz-ness as Usual: Blondie Remains Honeycombed with Signature Sweetness

To quote the title of the second single off the group’s latest album, Blondie has been doing this a “Long Time.” Pollinator, released in May, adds to a 40-some-year history and 10 records that, taken together, account for more than 40 million albums sold worldwide.

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