Tuesday
Jul032018

Lindsey Stirling: Bowing out of the smoke and mirrors

Once rehearsals began for the new tour, Stirling almost instantaneously realized that it would be quite the experience. “I have never co-headlined with anyone, so I went to an Evanescence show, and it was very different. I think we are definitely going to be looking to take a page out of each other’s books, especially when we see that both ways work,” says Stirling, who is no stranger to crossing performing practices, having finished as the runner-up on Season 25 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars teamed up with dance pro Mark Ballas. “It will be a different experience for anyone coming to this concert because there will truly be these seamless transitions between rock and electronic and classical. People are going to be blown away.”

Add that to the fact that the tour will be backed by a full orchestra, and it literally gives her a case of the goose bumps. “The orchestra is going to add this amazing layer behind my wooden violin,” says Stirling, who already raises hairs on YouTube, where her audience continues to make her one of the most influential musicians online. “There is a real vibration that you will be able to feel within your soul, especially in an outdoor venue. Physically you will be able to feel it.”

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Tuesday
Jul032018

Bring Me To Life: Evanescence finds immortal synthesis with symphony

Evanescence

“It makes you focus on a completely different part of your performance. I have a lot more stage to truly focus on musicianship, which is cool, but it’s also kind of scary because it’s very vulnerable. There are moments during the show that are very raw and quiet. You just have to embrace that silence and be totally comfortable in your own skin, focus and make something beautiful. I think for me this show is a lot more focused on the emotional side—I can’t help but get choked up almost every night at some point.”

Although Lee is an enthralling entertainer who can command a stage of any size, she’s also incredibly relatable as a songwriter who isn’t afraid to bare her soul on record or before a live audience. Selecting from her catalogue of songs for either incarnation of Synthesis was literally like going back through her diary, from her teens through getting married and becoming a mother in young adulthood, but the symphonic setting and ongoing reactions from listeners finally allowed her to embrace even the oldest entries.

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Tuesday
Jun262018

Snarky Puppy: A Cocktail of Influences Wags the Dog

“We’ve never thought of ourselves as a fusion band, but I understand why people associate us with the genre. As time goes on, though, the sound of the group is moving toward something else. I’m not sure exactly what to call it, but I feel like we all know what it is.”

In other words, fans and curious onlookers alike are best off simply gauging the ever-evolving direction for themselves when Texas-born/New York–based Snarky Puppy makes its Ravinia debut on July 2. League promises a combination of selections from the troupe’s instrumental albums and assurance that they never repeat the same show twice, much of which will be determined upon “the atmosphere, the vibe, the sound, and everything else that is shaping the moment.” And even if it marks the first time the group, which features up to 25 members in regular rotation, has performed at America’s oldest outdoor music festival, longtime Snarky saxophonist Bob Reynolds came up through Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute jazz program during its first year (2000), plus Snarky Puppy is no stranger to Chicago audiences.

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Wednesday
Jun202018

When Opera Went Electric; The Who's Tommy ran a live wire through theater

Turning 50 next year, Tommy has taken on many incarnations. In addition to its original 24-song, double-album format released in May 1969, it was staged in 1972 by the London Symphony Orchestra, starring additional rock luminaries like Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood, and Ringo Starr. In 1975, it became a star-studded, extravagant Ken Russell–directed film with Daltrey fully at the center and also starring Elton John, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Ann-Margaret, and a warbling Jack Nicholson. In 1992, Townshend and director Des McAnuff adapted Tommy into a darker, explosive stage musical that went to Broadway and won five Tony Awards. [Actor Michael Cerveris made his Broadway debut in the title role; 10 years later, just before winning his first Tony for Assassins, he starred in Ravinia’s production of Sondheim’s Passion and returned for Sunday in the Park with George and Anyone Can Whistle the following to years.] And in 2017 The Who gave a rare full performance for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

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Wednesday
Jun202018

Well Strung: A Quartet with Entendres of Inspiration

This band’s brand is something unique, indeed. A zip through their albums and YouTube videos reveals an astonishing level of stylistic eclecticism and virtuosity, from fresh-spirited traversals of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to envelope-pushing fusions of Grieg’s First String Quartet with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and the down-home vocals of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” merged with bits of Bach. Listen to that last one and try to keep your feet still. “We don’t stick to any one genre,” Bagnell explains, “We pull from both a wide breadth of pop and a wide breadth of classical. We respond to music we like. Good music is good music, and if something speaks to our instrumentation and voices, we go for it.”

The ensemble’s artistic soul is probably best displayed in the pop–classical mashups they have amusingly dubbed “popssicals.” “Our first popssical was Kelly Clarkson mashed with Eine kleine Nachtmusik. They had a similar energy,” Bagnell remembers. “We have another with Taylor Swift and Aaron Copland. There was such joy in the Copland piece and fun in the Taylor Swift.” Sometimes their choices juxtapose in unexpected ways, as in a marvelous amalgam of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria with Radiohead’s “Creep.” “We look for thematic elements, like this deeply religious music mashed up with ‘Creep,’ where a guy speaks about an unattainable woman with this almost obsessive, worshiping quality. They just kind of spoke to each other.”

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Tuesday
Jun192018

New Haute-ness: Ravinia opens the doors and floors of the Dining Pavilion with new cuisine from Chef Michael Tsonton

For many people, catching a show during Ravinia’s summer season is all about setting up blankets and tables, spreading out a picnic with wine and cheese, and hanging out with friends on the lawn while taking in a night of great music. But for many more, the Ravinia experience includes visiting one of the handful of restaurants onsite. With the 2018 concert season, which features a different act nearly every night through September 16, Executive Chef Michael Tsonton is introducing what he calls “micro-seasonal” dining, highlighting locally sourced ingredients on a continually fresh menu, keeping in line with the musical bills.

Even more exciting, Chef Tsonton will do this all with some brand-new concepts within the rejuvenated Dining Pavilion. On the ground floor, the new Lawn Bar and its two full bars will also serve small plates and entrées, and the Ravinia Market will feature five hot stations with different cuisines, as well as grab-and-go food and drinks. And the second floor is now home to both reservation-driven restaurants: the new Tree Top and its outdoor, covered Porch will offer a micro-seasonal prix-fixe menu in serve-yourself style, and the popular Park View will feature a refreshed menu. Ravinia Magazine spoke with Chef Tsonton about the new spaces, what makes him excited and his approach to seasonal cooking.

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Thursday
Jun072018

Building Bridges: The iron is hot for fusing jazz and classical in RSMI's composition competition

It was in the spirit of the intense and aspirational goals of RSMI’s ambitious programs for jazz and classical musicians—as well as the bold musical vision of Leonard Bernstein, whom Ravinia has just gotten underway celebrating with an expansive multiyear tribute—that Bridges, an international jazz and classical fusion composition competition, was born. It offered an imaginative challenge for artists ages 17–30 (the same age range as the 60–70 performers invited to RSMI each year) to compose original works specifically for a string quartet and a jazz trio. “The Bridges competition was conceived to help give young professionals a place on the map—if not the world stage—which is precisely what RSMI has been granting singers and instrumentalists for the past three decades,” Kauffman said. The directors of the RSMI Program for Jazz had long dreamed of such a competition, having written many works combining jazz and classical music and players themselves.

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Thursday
May312018

Pack Mentality: Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin Howls at the Band’s Unlikely Tracks of Success

Steve Berlin remembers exactly when he first heard the band that would come to define his career. But that first encounter 40 years ago was not a magical one. Things didn’t go so well for Los Lobos that night, and it wasn’t at all clear to Berlin that he would eventually join them and help the band evolve to a place of collective fame and fortune.

In 1978, Berlin was a young musician who’d left his hometown of Philadelphia to make his way into the music scene in Los Angeles. He was a session player and soon-to-be producer when he went to catch a punk show, headlined by Public Image, at an enormous venue. “It was at a boxing arena called the Olympic Auditorium,” Berlin recalls. With his penchant for blunt talk, he quickly adds some colorful descriptors: “It was a real shithole—just a horrific place for anything other than boxing.”

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Wednesday
May022018

Get Ready to buy Your 2018 Ravinia Tickets

Ticket Sales Split Up Over Two Days: To reduce customer wait times, June and July concerts will go on sale on at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 8, and August and September concerts will join them at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, exclusively online at Ravinia.org. Make sure you share the new ticket sales dates and times with your Ravinia crew and mark your calendar.

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Tuesday
Apr032018

Remembering Jesus Christ Superstar at Ravinia in 1971


Ravinia favorite John Legend wowed audiences in NBC’s Easter-night, live concert production of the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Ravinia famously presented the groundbreaking musical on August 6 and 7, 1971, (read the
Chicago Tribune story) to what were then record-breaking audiences. One fan remembers the event.

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