“I like where I am now,” Don Henley sings on Cass County, his fifth solo album, and first in 15 years, released last September to rapturous reviews and chart-topping sales. Where he is now is on a tour of Europe and North America that brings him to Ravinia on August 14 and 15.
When the New York Times Magazine profiled Danielle de Niese in 2009, a headline writer astutely dubbed her “opera’s coolest soprano.” And the moniker has stuck.
July 25, 1936: George Gershwin's Sole Ravinia Performance
After the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took residence at Ravinia on July 3, 1936, perhaps the next great highlight of that summer came just a few weeks later. Thousands descended upon the freshly reinaugurated festival in hopes of seeing—but most certainly for the chance to hear—the inimitable pianist, composer, and songwriter George Gershwin.
Jorge Federico Osorio is a classical artist with an international career. Born in Mexico, he could make his home anywhere. Yet after living in New York City for seven years, followed by London for another 11, he chose Highland Park, IL, to be the place where he and his wife, Sylvana, put down their roots and raised their two sons, Dario and Santiago.
The past few weeks have been marked by some terrific performances here at Ravinia! On our lawn, we’ve seen some impressive picnic spreads, great 4th of July themed parties, life celebrations, plenty of Cornell-heads, Durannies, and so many more! We also welcomed the Chicago Symphony Orchestra back as part of its 80th summer residency anniversary. In Part 2 of our “Season So Far” blog series, we’ll show you a sampling of what’s been happening in our gorgeous park this month.
The first time Buddy Guy came to Ravinia, it was as an audience member to see George Benson. “I got there and they looked at me and said, ‘Buddy, we’ve been trying to get you for years!’” Guy recalled in a recent exchange for Ravinia magazine.
In 1999, the festival got him. “It took me a long time to get to a venue like that,” Guy reflected. “I’d play with Junior [Wells] in the early days at Navy Pier, or over by the lake with Stevie [Ray Vaughan], and I imagined those were the biggest places I’d ever play. But they finally got me and I’ve done quite a few shows there since then. I love playing Ravinia, man.”
Diana Ross is so iconic a performer, I still remember the first time I saw her on television. I was in high school at the time, and as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I was a classical music geek who was slow in coming to appreciate the popular music of the time. The breakthrough song that turned me around was Petula Clark’s recording of “Downtown.” For some reason, that song grabbed me, and I started listening to the top-10 countdown every day on a local radio station. “Downtown” quickly climbed the charts, but seemed to be stuck at the number-two position. The song that kept it from reach the top spot was “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers, admittedly a phenomenal song, but I was impatient for “Downtown” to overtake it.
When clarinetist Anthony McGill visits Ravinia on July 15 to perform the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Takács String Quartet, the occasion will be the latest of numerous homecomings the Chicago native has enjoyed since he left the nest for the Interlochen Music Academy and the Curtis Institute of Music many years ago. Originally from the Chatham neighborhood on the city’s South Side, McGill and his unlikely rise to the summit of the clarinet world was fueled by a supreme talent, supportive family, several key local mentors, and an unflagging determination.
Janni Younge believes passionately in the power of puppetry. Although the centuries-old art form might seem passé in a world where video games and other online diversions are available in seconds, she believes it is even more needed than ever as a tangible antidote to such high-tech escapism. “People are relating to a very ancient instinct,” says the South African puppetmaker, “which is to enjoy the animation of an inanimate object. Particularly in contemporary puppetry, where you see the performers creating life in a thing that is clearly not alive, there is a kind of electricity that happens. We relate to it on a very primal level.”
Fiddling Around: Wynton Marsalis Trumpets Human Connections in His Violin Concerto for Nicola Benedetti
Legendary trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis has worn many musical hats across his remarkable career. Thus, the idea that Ravinia would co-commission a concerto from a guy who studied at Juilliard and performed Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto with his hometown New Orleans Philharmonic when he was a mere 14 years old is not so strange.