The soundtrack of the early 1980s simply oozed Duran Duran. Their extraordinary run of singles—“Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Rio,” “Save a Prayer,” “The Reflex,” “The Wild Boys,” “Girls on Film”—earned Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, and Andy Taylor the moniker “The Fab Five” among pop music’s second British Invasion. Their music videos proved almost too risqué even for MTV, at a time when the cable music video channel was the “social media” pinnacle for recording artists. To paraphrase that old song: If you could make it there, you could make it anywhere. And make it they did.
It may be a truism that leaving home for college is a life-changing experience, but how many people can say they met both lifelong friends and career-defining collaborators on the first day?
That’s how Adam Gardner tells the story. It’s true enough; a nice, easy shorthand version. When pressed, however, he reveals that he actually met bandmates and buddies Ryan Miller and Brian Rosenworcel shortly before that, at a wilderness orientation for freshman at Tufts University (just outside of Boston) in 1991. The trio soon learned they shared a passion, and that’s the origin of the band known as Guster—a group still going strong a quarter-century later.
July 3, 1936: The CSO Residency Kicks Off
In 1936 Ravinia and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra began an enthusiastic partnership in presenting history’s greatest music in a uniquely lush and comfortable setting, and 80 years later that dedication is as strong as ever, forming the cornerstone of the festival’s classical mission, which also encompasses chamber music, recitals, kids concerts, Reach*Teach*Play, and Ravinia’s Stean’s Music Institute. Even before the relationship became official the CSO was a regular guest, dating back to 1905 as the Theodore Thomas Orchestra. Over the 17 concerts that compose its residency at Ravinia this summer, the CSO will play works that are just as powerful today as they were during that first season—from Beethoven’s Seventh, Brahms’s Second and Fourth, and Dvořák’s “New World” Symphonies to such orchestral delights as Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Strauss’s Don Juan to the playful swirl of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
With over 140 concerts across three and a half months, it’s not easy to catch everything that goes on at Ravinia. The month of June has practically flown by, so we’ve curated some of the most notable posts, tweets, and photos showcasing what the 2016 season has been like so far.
If you have never seen a Tiny Desk Concert, then you are in for a real treat. Started in 2007 by Bob Boilen, host of NPR’s All Songs Considered, the Tiny Desk Concert series invites notable as well as unheard musicians into the small working space that Boilen uses in NPR’s offices in Washington, DC.
As a way to introduce readers/viewers/listeners to both the Tiny Desk series and Ravinia’s 2016 season, we’ve compiled a list of Tiny Desk videos featuring performers who are taking the festival’s stage, as well as a playlist of past Ravinia artists, for your viewing pleasure.
While perusing an Ravinia program book from 1976, we came across this advertisement for Northern Trust Bank, which includes a number of interesting facts about the festival. The still life in the center is also a nice touch.
By Andy Argyrakis
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. It was also the era of “folk-rock” and the ascendance of the singer-songwriter. Pop artists no longer simply went into the studio to record a piece of music handed to them by their agent or record company executive. The idea grew that someone singing their own music had a greater artistic integrity—who could better interpret their poetry and melodic flights of fancy than the writer him- or herself?
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.