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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Tuesday
Aug082017

Rewind: August 10, 2007


Though the terms
 “virtuoso” and “prodigy” are most often applied to classical musicians, mandolinist Chris Thile, fiddler Sara Watkins, and guitarist Sean Watkins easily fit the bill when they formed the band Nickel Creek in the late 1980s, before any of them were yet in their teens. The trio earned widespread attention with their third album, Nickel Creek, which was produced by Alison Krauss, herself considered a virtuoso of the fiddle.

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Tuesday
Aug082017

The Soul in his Shoes: Leslie Odom Jr. Keeps his Feet in Happening Rooms


Leslie Odom Jr. is not the kind of guy to let grass grow under his feet. Even if he wanted to, the grass wouldn’t stand a chance, given the actor/singer/dancer extraordinaire’s fancy footwork. Though now firmly fused into American consciousness for his Tony and Grammy Award–winning portrayal of Aaron Burr in the Broadway megahit Hamilton, Odom has long been demonstrating his astonishing versatility not just on stage but on television with his appearances on CSI: Miami, Grey’s Anatomy, Person of Interest, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and particularly in the role of Sam Strickland in the 2013 musical series Smash. His many fans will shortly enjoy him on the big screen as well, in Kenneth Branagh’s soon-to-be-released film Murder on the Orient Express.

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Tuesday
Aug082017

Feeling Lucky Punk: Chris Carrabba is Happy to Wear his Emotive Music on his Sleeve


You can’t talk emo culture without certain bands immediately rolling off the tongue: Jawbreaker, Sunny Day Real Estate, Death Cab for Cutie, Alkaline Trio, Rites of Spring—and, of course, Dashboard Confessional, whose lead singer, Chris Carrabba, became the unofficial poster boy for the genre, characterized by emotional, hardcore punk and “confessional” lyrics. When Carrabba sang “I’m reading your note over again / There’s not a word that I comprehend /Except when you signed it / ‘I will love you always and forever,’ ” a generation of music fans felt his guitar-driven angst.

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Thursday
Aug032017

Blogger Reviews the Fine Dining Options at Ravinia

When you think of Ravinia in Highland Park, the first thing you probably think of is music. You may not, however, immediately think of food. But, you should. You really, really should. Ravinia Festival is the ideal Chicago-area dinner and show spot.

Chicago Foodie Sisters was recently invited to get a taste of what they have to offer at a food blogger dinner hosted for #Foodiechats at the Park View Restaurant on the grounds of Ravinia. It's one of several areas on the property where you can dine to enhance your evening. If you thought that a summer concert meant you were limited to overpriced nachos and hot dogs that you grab at a stand after waiting in an insanely long line, you couldn't be more wrong.

There are several dining options at Ravinia Festival that range from pre-ordered picnic boxes to quick, but quality take-away sandwiches and salads to leisurely indoor or al fresco dining of seafood, prime rib and more with wines from around the globe. It's the best place to enjoy live music if you're both a concertgoer and a foodie.

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Thursday
Aug032017

One orchestra to lead them all: The CSO takes on ‘LOTR’ trilogy

What could make 10 hours of elves, dwarves, hobbits, and orcs even better? A live symphony orchestra, of course.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform the soundtrack to all three films in the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy on consecutive evenings August 18–20 at Ravinia, with the movies projected on screens in the Pavilion and on the lawn. The CSO had performed the individual films at Ravinia in previous years, but seeing the entire trilogy over three evenings will be a new experience in the Midwest.

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Thursday
Aug032017

Sistema Ravinia Student Plays in National Take a Stand Festival Orchestra


A hundred young people between the ages of 12 and 17, representing the diversity and inclusivity that we long to see in classical music, performed together in a festival orchestra at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Walt Disney Hall on Saturday, July 22. The orchestra comprised students from El Sistema–inspired programs around the country who were selected by audition, including one of Ravinia’s own—13-year-old Michael Robinson! The French horn player’s only access to music education has been through the Sistema Ravinia program at Catalyst Circle Rock School on Chicago’s West Side.

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Wednesday
Aug022017

Rewind: August 5, 1937


Now in its ninth consecutive decade, the musical partnership between Ravinia and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra continues to be a uniquely fulfilling one, with the six-week summer residency of the orchestra regularly featuring about as many programs as might be heard downtown over the rest of the year.

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Tuesday
Aug012017

Nadine Sierra: A Soprano Singing for Her Self in the Seats

Nadine Sierra first came to my attention some years ago while researching an article about singer education for Opera News. At the time, she was an apprentice in the Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera. In conversations with various educators and administrators, Sierra’s name kept popping up as an example of an aspiring singer with the rare combination of qualities to succeed in classical music. Those were prescient impressions. In the few years since, the delectable Sierra’s luminescent soprano voice has conquered the Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Berlin State Opera, and that pinnacle of vocal accomplishment, Milan’s La Scala, among many others.

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Friday
Jul282017

Huckleberry Friends: Audrey, Henry and Me

I grabbed the ad and flew to the mezzanine level of the house, where technicians and grips were arranging lights and cables. When I approached one and asked, “Do you think I could get Miss Hepburn to autograph this for me?” the grip answered, “Why not ask her yourself? She’s right over there.” I hadn’t even noticed her diminutive figure sitting on the stairs studying her script, and although I didn’t want to cause any disruption in the production, I hurriedly went over and blurted out, “Miss Hepburn, I’m a huge fan of yours and have had this photo in my office for years. Would you please sign it ‘To John’?”

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