Wednesday
Sep062017

rewind: September 11, 1987


One thing that all fans of classical music might agree on is that little is as thrilling as hearing a youthful musician playing to a standard of technique and artistic mastery more commonly associated with a player two or three times her age. There may be an element of democracy in the perception of talent, but when it came to a barely teen-aged Midori, the public opinion was beyond clear. With one of her earliest performances in the United States being with the New York Philharmonic at its New Year’s Eye gala at the age of 11, reputation already preceded the violinist taking the Tanglewood stage for Leonard Bernstein’s annual Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Memorial Concert with the Boston Symphony in 1986.

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Wednesday
Sep062017

A Man For All Seasons: Frankie Valli Embraces the Moment to Keep his group on a high note

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons never had an autumn. They are of their time, and timeless.

With his early life and crooning career chronicled in the multiple Tony Award–winning and internationally successful stage musical, Jersey Boys—along with a movie version directed by Clint Eastwood—a five-decade catalogue of blockbuster hits, and even a sinister stint on TV’s The Sopranos, Frankie Valli is a well-deserving pop culture icon.

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Tuesday
Aug292017

Top Picnic Setups of 2017

As any Ravinia concert-goer knows, the lawn can be a fantastic showcase of stylish and fanciful picnic setups as diverse as the audience and artists that grace our stage. With the summer quickly winding down, we collected some of the best picnic setups that we ran across on social media.

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Thursday
Aug242017

Chad Hoopes: A Violinist Cooking Up Solo Concerts

Chad Hoopes was apportioned an arresting array of adjectives in a Washington Post review of the violinist’s Kennedy Center debut last year: “jaw-dropping,” “a little intoxicating,” “glowing,” “gripping,” “smiling-slash-snarly” (his performance of Ravel’s tempestuous Tzigane).

But it’s a verb in the first sentence that catches the eye: “The gifted young violinist Chad Hoopes has been rising—or maybe hurtling—toward international stardom since taking first prize in the junior division of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition in 2008.” 

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Thursday
Aug242017

On the Surf(ace): Switchfoot Doesn't Bottle Up It's Message

At face value, Switchfoot is one of the most engaging and entertaining alternative rock acts to come out of Southern California in the last 20 years. But those who take a longer look at the Grammy Award–winning group will also find some of the most socially conscious, spiritually enlightening, and ultimately thought-provoking lyrics of their generation.

Of course, that’s yielded smash singles such as “Dare You to Move,” “Meant to Live,” and “Stars,” plus multiplatinum- or gold-selling modern day masterpieces such as The Beautiful Letdown, Nothing Is Sound, and Learning to Breathe. However, Switchfoot also built up a sizeable community of listeners who’ve been consistently challenged by the band members to make a difference in their corner of the globe. In fact, both the band and their fans did exactly that earlier this season at the 13th Annual Switchfoot BRO-AM, which merges a massive music festival and surf contest, with all the proceeds benefitting various children’s charities.

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Thursday
Aug242017

I Love a Piano, Piano: The Naughtons' Four-Handed Sibling Revelry

“I think one of the cool things about four-hand piano,” says Christina Naughton, “is that it allows the deepest communication between the two players, because it may be the only form of chamber music where the players actually share the instrument.”

“It’s fun and it’s a different form of communication than chamber music,” chimes in Christina’s twin sister and piano duo partner, Michelle Naughton. “It’s really unique to its own self. It’s an art in itself. Family is a big part of that, too, and you can see that with Mozart’s and Mendelssohn’s music: they wrote stuff to be played with their siblings who were also fantastic musicians.” Not coincidentally, four-hand piano works by those two composers are central to the Naughton sisters’ Ravinia-debut performance on August 24.

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Monday
Aug212017

Rewind: August 27, 2002

It’s a no-brainer to say that music is Ravinia’s passion. And yet, until 15 years ago the only musical Passion that had been heard at the festival was J.S. Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion—granted, it is the most popular setting of the narrative in classical music today. (Before James Levine led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a pair of performances of Bach’s masterpiece in 1978 and 1980, Ravinia had presented back-to-back performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971, but its loose interpretation of Biblical accounts makes its categorization as a Passion narrative questionable.)

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Tuesday
Aug152017

A Balance Paying Off: James Gaffigan finds an Island in Lucerne

The oft-quoted New Testament adage about prophets struggling for credibility in their own countries certainly seems to apply to American conductors. While some noted ones like James Levine and Marin Alsop have built their careers largely in the United States, others have had to make their marks in Europe before they could land a major post in their home country. Examples include David Zinman, who served as principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic prior to becoming music director of the Baltimore Symphony in 1985, and Alan Gilbert, who was principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in advance of taking over as music director of the New York Philharmonic in 2009.

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Tuesday
Aug152017

Rewind: August 21, 1912


Before Ravinia emerged from the Great Depression in 1936 to begin hosting the incomparable performance residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, it was for about a decade and a half known as the “summer opera capital of the world,” presenting many of the Metropolitan Opera’s foremost stars in selected scenes or acts of that venerable form of music theater. The performances were often so abridged so as to accommodate the schedule of the trains that were the primary means of travel to Ravinia (indeed, it was originally founded in 1904 as a general amusement park along the train line). However, not all operas are multi-hour, multi-act epics.

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Wednesday
Aug092017

Rhymed Conversation: Ira Gershwin brought effortless composure to songwriting 

In 1896, Morris Gershovitz and his wife, Rose, were living above a pawnshop on New York’s Lower East Side. In December of that year, the immigrant couple saw the birth of their first child, a son, whom they named Israel. In September of 1898, the Gershovitzes, now in Brooklyn, welcomed their second son, Jacob. Within a few weeks the family moved back to Manhattan, where they occupied a second-floor flat above a phonograph shop.

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