Ravinia Names 2010's Ultimate Picnic

Day in and day out, picnickers on Ravinia’s lawns settle down in their own perfect little spots to look on and listen closely to the talent before them.  With all attention focused on the exciting shows taking  place on stage, we wait for that one special day when the picnics on the lawn become the sights to see.  That day came this past weekend when Ravinia teamed up with Rutherford Hill to name 2010’s ultimate picnic.  Special guest judges from around Chicago, including HGTV host and celebrity designer, Monica Pedersen, took to the lawns to scope out participants’ extravagant displays.  From piano-shaped cake to a lifesize cardboard cut-out of Pedersen herself, judges surveyed a variety of creative ways for participants to display their picnic set ups.


A judge's eye view:


Take the Ultimate Picnic tour by viewing the full gallery here. 



Participants were awarded with gifts from Ravinia Gifts, Rutherford Hill and Kerrygold.  But the icing on the Ravinia cake was the grand prize – two passes to Ravinia’s 2011 season!


One Score, One Chicago: Students Discover Music and Art through Pictures at an Exhibition

Inspired by Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Ravinia Festival partnered with the Art Institute of Chicago to introduce thousands of children and the public to connections between music and art.  Students listened to, performed and created original art inspired by Pictures at an Exhibition and studied works from the Art Institutes collection that were inspired by music, such as the works below.  Click here to see examples of art inspired by music that were created by Highland Park middle school art students. 

Thousands of public school students in Chicago, Highland Park, North Chicago and Waukegan were introduced to classical music through Ravinia’s One Score, One Chicago program this year.  The students learned about Pictures at an Exhibition, the 10-part work originally written for piano by Modest Mussorgsky in 1875 and then arranged for orchestra by Maurice Ravel, in three stages. Click here to learn more.

Isaac Sinnett

Project Manager, REACH*TEACH*PLAY


Archibald John Motley, Jr.

American, 1891-1981

Nightlife, 1943

Oil on canvas

91.4 x 121.3 cm (36 x 47 3/4 in.)

Signed and dated lower right: A. J. MOTLEY / 1943

The Art Institute of Chicago

Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Field, Jack and Sandra Guthman, Ben W. Heineman, Ruth Horwich, Lewis and Susan Manilow, Beatrice C. Mayer, Charles A. Meyer, John D. Nichols, and Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Smith, Jr.; James W. Alsdorf Memorial Fund; Goodman Endowment, 1992.89


Viktor Schreckengost

American, 1906-2008

Made for Cowan Pottery Studio (1913-1931)

Rocky River, Ohio

Jazz Bowl, c. 1931

Glazed earthenware with engobe, sgraffito

23.5 cm x 42.6 x 43.2 cm (9 1/4 in. x 16 3/4 x 17 in.)

Signed on body "VIKTOR SCHRECKEGOST", impressed on underside with "COWAN" and firm's mark

The Art Institute of Chicago

Through prior acquisition of the Antiquarian Society; Thorne Rooms exhibition Fund; Bequest of Elizabeth R. Vaughn; and the Winfield Foundation, 2004.1



Ravinia Gifts in the Spotlight

Ravinia Gifts had an exciting moment recently when two members of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, who provided Sting’s accompaniment for his two night stay at the park, stopped by to purchase a few pairs of rock and roll guitar sunglasses.  As if having the musicians stop by wasn’t cool enough, they informed us that they would be wearing the glasses on stage during part of their performance!  Sure enough, the guys put on the groovy glasses towards the end of Sting’s set, giving the audience and their fellow performers a good laugh.   It was certainly an exciting moment for the staff of Ravinia Gifts.

Lisa Sanders

Communications Intern


Ravinia's "W" at the Cubs Game

The Chicago Cubs holding their own against the Philadelphia Phillies was not the only thing that drew crowds at Wrigley Field last week.  Ravinia took a brief break from the North Shore for a Friday afternoon in the big city – and what a break it was.  Ravinia regulars and beginners alike gave the Ravinia prize wheel a spin, and lucky winners left with goodies like free t-shirts and lawn passes.  We may not have been able to turn Phillies fans into Cubs fans but they were easily turned onto the Ravinia Festival.  With the 2010 season just past its halfway point, many anticipate great performances ahead.  See full schedule details here.



So baseball fans, if you were not able to join us last week, be sure to look for us at Wrigley again on August 7th.  Just remember, here at Ravinia, it is okay to be a fair-weather fan – and, ya know, hope for temperate climates to make the most of your lawn experience!


Romance at Ravinia: Meet Other Singles at the Nelly Furtado Concert


The month of September is known to bring change, with the beginning of a new season and the end of an old one.  For most in the Midwest, this means one thing—the wonderfully warm days of summer will be coming to an end.  We begin to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead (snow, ice, and freezing our…posterior regions off).

But don’t fret!  Here at Ravinia, we want to keep September hot with the Nelly Furtado Singles Mixer on September 3rd.  The temperature may be dropping, but at Ravinia, this will be the hottest day of the season!  We’ve teamed up with Chicago Magazine to provide you with an offer that you can’t refuse.  For just $39 you will get an open bar for 3 hours with Ketel One, Don Julio, Heineken, and Seven Daughters products, delicious appetizers, and a chance to win some awesome prizes.  Not to mention that you’ll be invited to the most exclusive tent party of the evening with the area’s most eligible singles.  Who knows!  You might meet someone pretty special.  And if you don’t, you can always fall back on that fantastic open bar that you will be getting for next to nothing! 

Plus, after the party, you’ll be invited to an exclusive area on the lawn to watch Nelly Furtado do her thing.  Avoid the hassles of bringing your own lawn chairs and let us take care of you.  The party starts at 5:00 p.m. on September 3rd.  Come and get your FLIRTado on with the area’s hottest singles!  Round up your single buddies and BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW (they are going fast!).


Kristin Ayers

Marketing Intern


REACH Orchestra Students Meet Joshua Bell

Just a few short months ago the 8 to 12 year old students in Ravinia's REACH Orchestra had never held a violin. This week they got to perform on their instruments during a meet-and-greet with the legendary violinist Joshua Bell, who met the grade-schoolers backstage before his July 13 performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor. One of our REACH*TEACH*PLAY initiatives, Ravinia started the El Sistema-based orchestra--an immersion program that stresses passion above technique--in conjunction with the Women's Board of Ravinia and the People's Music School. People's had already launched a student orchestra at Hibbard, called YOURS.

Ninety-five student, parents and teachers from the REACH and YOURS orchestras attended the concert and three violinists from each orchestra met with Joshua Bell backstage before the performance, where Bell graciously shared stories about his earliest days with the violin.

When asked about the experience 10-year old REACH Orchestra violist Freddi Mercado said, "I like the's so good!"

Nick Pullia
Director of Communcations

Isaac Sinnett
Project Manager, REACH*TEACH*PLAY


New Music for an Old Friendship

Tony Andriacchi and I have been best of friends for a couple of decades now. When we first started hanging out, I had no idea that he was a singer. Then one day he asked if I wanted to listen to his tape (yep, we used cassettes back then). It’s a question I dread. What if he was no good—there goes the friendship. I said, “Couldn’t I just help you move or drive you to the airport?” But when I mustered the courage to listen, I discovered an incredibly intelligent vocalist with unique phrasing and a serious set of pipes. Only then did I discover that he had enjoyed a career as a headliner at such Chicago hot-spots as The Pump Room. He also had some of the best reviews I’ve ever read. So I’m very pleased that my best friend will be performing in the Martin Theatre on August 25. Last night I learned that he and his music director, Carey Deadman, have worked up 10 new charts to showcase in his evening of American standards with a 16-piece big band. If there’s anyone out there who wants a new favorite singer (or a fun new friend), don’t miss this swinging show.


Nick Pullia

Director of Communications


Steans Institute Masterclasses


 I’ll be sad to see the amazing musicians of the Steans Institute program for piano and strings leave this weekend. The 33 young professional instrumentalists in this program will have been here for five weeks, keeping up an intense seven-day-a-week schedule of lessons with some of the world’s greatest musicians, rehearsals, and concerts in Bennett • Gordon Hall. The performances they have given in the recent weeks are some of the most intimate, beautiful, and memorable of any concerts I’ve seen at Ravinia.

In addition to the concerts, I’m a particular fan of our master classes, which give the audience a chance to witness the interaction of our young artists with the faculty.  It’s a unique opportunity to get to know the musicians and the music more intimately, and I find it fascinating to consider the questions of interpretation and musicianship from the performers’ perspective.  Our master class on July 8 was led by cellist Laurence Lesser, president emeritus of New England Conservatory and veteran of a long career as a performer, teacher, and administrator. 

These pictures show Larry working with cellist Karen Ouzounian and pianist Andrei Licaret on Beethoven’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Opus 102, No. 1, before an audience of several hundred in Bennett • Gordon Hall. 

We have three master classes coming up in the program for singers, all of which are free and open to the public.  Ravinia Music Director James Conlon will lead a master class on Wednesday, August 4, at 7:00 p.m.  Nathan and Julie Gunn will give a master class on Saturday, August 7, at 1:30 p.m., focusing on American song.  The final master class of the summer, focusing on Mozart arias, will be given by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 17. 

So despite my sadness at the impending departure of our instrumentalists at the end of this week, you can see that we still have a lot to look forward to in the program for singers.  In addition to the master classes, the singers will give four full concerts as well.  More information about these performances will be posted on our website as soon as repertoire is determined.  Please join us!

Anthony Roberts

Director, Steans Institute


Guest Blog from Sylvana Osorio, wife of Jose Federico Osorio

On July 15 and 16 pianist Jose Federico Osorio will play Beethoven’s complete piano concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Here Jorge’s wife, Sylvana, explains what it is like being married to a world-renowned pianist and how they both share a passion for the arts.  

People sometimes ask me how it feels to be married to a major classical performing musician, or what I experience in the audience when I attend one of his performances. I’ve been married to Jorge for 34 years, and I always get a thrill listening to him play in concert. Attending a live performance is indeed magical and exciting; each concert feels and sounds different, even if I have heard him play the same piece before. Around the house, we both enjoy listening to the radio (WFMT and WBEZ). Opera and lieder are particular favorites if we’re listening to something together, and we occasionally add chamber and orchestral music. We also like jazz and Latin American music in general. I work full-time, so it is only very occasionally that I can travel with him when he tours. However, before our sons were born, I did go along whenever possible. I have had the privilege of going with Jorge to Israel, Scandinavia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Russia, Turkmenistan and, of course, Mexico and several parts of the United States. There isn’t much free time when you are traveling with a musician, but you do get to meet wonderful people and sample the local cuisine!

Sylvana Osorio


Top Ten Things to Bring to Ravinia

Last month, we asked our seasoned Ravinia concert-goers on Facebook to provide their most helpful tips for making the most out of your Ravinia experience.  According to our fans, here are the top ten Ravinia concert must-haves:

1. Wine

It isn’t surprising that bringing wine was the number one tip.  Ravinia is one of the only BYOB venues around.  Of course, Ravinia abides by all local and state alcohol laws—in other words, you must be 21 to take advantage of our BYOB policy.  If you forget your wine, don’t worry!  You can purchase alcoholic beverages at Ravinia’s full bar or in the Park View and Mirabelle restaurants on site.  Don’t forget to bring your I.D., a corkscrew, and someone special to share your bottle!

2. A blanket

A picnic isn’t complete without one!  It can be used to mark your spot on the lawn or to cuddle up with after the sun goes down.  On rainy days or when the ground is wet, don’t forget to bring a tarp or plastic sheet to put under your blanket so you can stay dry for the duration of the concert.  Fold-up lawn chairs are also a great alternative for those who would rather not sit on the ground.

 3. A roll-up table

A large number our fans mentioned the necessity of the roll-up table.  These are available for purchase in the Ravinia Gift Shop.

4.  Candles

Candles are a great source of light and ambiance for a picnic under the stars.  Bring citronella to repel mosquitoes as well.  And don’t forget to bring matches!

5. Flashlight


Big, small, or hands-free, it is always a good idea to bring some kind of flashlight to Ravinia.  Packing up can be hard to do in the dark, and you wouldn’t want to accidently leave something behind!

6. An umbrella

A wise man once said, “You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather” -Andre 3000 (Outkast).  Such is the case here—Ravinia’s concerts always go on, come rain or shine!  Be prepared!

7. Mosquito repellant

Ravinia is an outdoor venue.  Therefore, the swarming of mosquitoes is inevitable in the hot summer months.  Always be prepared with bug spray and citronella candles.

 8. A sweatshirt 

When the sun goes down, so does the temperature—especially here at Ravinia.  Make sure you are prepared for it to get a little chilly.  But if you forget warm clothes, not to worry!  The Ravinia gift shop will have you covered.  Literally.

9. Garbage bags

This is a great and practical idea!  It is also a good way to cut down on the amount of litter left in the park after a concert.

10. A smile

Concerts at Ravinia are all about the atmosphere and bringing people together.  So bring a good attitude and an open mind.  Arrive early with your ticket, your picnic gear, and a smile.  Who knows who you’ll meet and what memories you will make!


Kristin Ayers

Marketing Intern