By John Schauer
A long time ago, when I was working as a journalist in California, I came to Ravinia to do a feature interview with James Levine, who was Ravinia’s music director at that time, and in the course of the interview he said something that still haunts me today, as if somehow he sensed what would happen as a result of “social media”—which of course did not yet exist at that time.
June 9, 1991: Lionel Hampton's Final Appearance at Ravinia
Lionel Hampton made his final appearance at Ravinia 25 years ago, by which time he had long established himself as one of the greatest jazz bandleaders of the 20th century.
By Thomas May
In 2013 Tan Dun traveled to the Thomaskirche in Leipzig to conduct his Water Passion in the very space where J.S. Bach had introduced the Saint Matthew Passion nearly three centuries ago (most likely in 1727). The gesture underlined the kind of cross-cultural counterpoint that lies at the heart of the Chinese composer’s oratorio. The full title reads Water Passion after Saint Matthew, yet Tan also models his work on his reading of Bach’s monumental precedent; it might even be titled Water Passion after Saint Matthew after Bach—the second “after” being taken simultaneously in its dual senses of “according to” and “post-dating” (for a contemporary world).
Frankie—to my parents’ generation, that meant “Sinatra.” To my generation, it meant “Valli & the Four Seasons.” Although as with so many other things in life, I was a bit late in coming to this party.
Blank on Blank is a fantastic online series from PBS that has been digging up old tape-recorded interviews with celebrities and bringing them to life through the magic of animation. As fortune would have it, many of the subjects of the interviews are Ravinia favorites, from 2016 season artists Garrison Keillor and Dolly Parton to such past legends as Louie Armstrong and Janis Joplin. Below are selections from this series that gives you a personal glimpse into the lives of these celebrated cultural figures.
The contradictions are stunning.
We are, as we’re constantly reminded, living our lives at supersonic speeds, racing in all directions. We express ourselves in 140-character tweets, fume when a computer file takes three seconds to download, and demand next-day delivery for our online orders (since shopping online is, of course, much faster than heading out to a brick-and-mortar retail store).
Yet we luxuriate in spending hours at a time on a single experience we deem worthwhile. Children, supposedly afflicted by skyrocketing rates of attention deficit disorder, devoured the very long Harry Potter books in marathon sittings. A weekend spent binge-watching multiple seasons of House of Cards or Downton Abbey is many people’s idea of heaven. Restaurants have long waiting lists of customers willing to sit for lengthy, multicourse, insanely expensive meals with menus (no substitutions allowed) set by a superstar chef.
We’re desperately in a hurry. Until we’re not.
Have your account ready: Ravinia puts more than 100 summer concerts on sale, beginning at 5 a.m. on April 26. Those who do not already have a myRavinia account are advised to create an account. Ravinia also advises patrons to verify their personal information, including mailing address and phone number, once they log on.
Carlos Santana once told Welz Kauffman that he’d never play Ravinia. Nothing personal, he said, just that “my audience won’t come.”
The year was 2000, and Kauffman had just taken the reins at the legendary Highland Park music festival with a vision to build on the historic venue’s proud legacy of presenting a wide variety of great concerts.
“From the beginning Ravinia presented a mix of classical concerts and the cutting-edge acts of the time, whether it was Benny Goodman introducing a mixed-race band in the 1940s to Janis Joplin and Frank Zappa in the 1970s,” Kauffman said. “But as the classical programming continued to feature the brightest talents in the world, for about 30 years, we lost our way a bit on the nonclassical side, allowing it to get pretty dusty.”
April showers bring May flowers, so Ravinia’s going to “make it rain” all month long! Share this video link on Facebook, retweet this tweet on Twitter, or like this post on Instagram between today and April 26 to be entered to win a 2016 Season Lawn Pass for two! The grand-prize winner will be announced on April 28 in the Ravinia newsletter and also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.