Ravinia Associates Become Newest Orchestra at Hibbard Elementary

The Ravinia Associates, a group of young professionals dedicated to supporting the musical arts, emphasizing Ravinia Festival and its REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs, held their winter board meeting at Hibbard Elementary School on January 22, where they became its newest orchestra for the day as part of their exploration of the orchestra training initiative at Hibbard. 

The day started in the auditorium where students from the YOURS and REACH Orchestras performed for the group.  All members of the Associates were then handed their own instrument and broke into smaller groups by instrument. The students worked with each member on a one-to-one basis, teaching them how to create sound and to play the rhythm to the William Tell Overture. When asked about the opportunity to teach, student violinist Sheila Esquival (pictured above) said “It was really fun to teach them and to see them get excited about what we get to do everyday.”  The students and adults then came back together, in the auditorium, playing side-by-side for a full orchestra rehearsal and performance of the overture. 

Kara Longo Korte, President of Ravinia Associates added that “The meeting at Hibbard Elementary was by far my favorite Associates meeting! …to witness the children playing in the orchestra made a big impact on each Associate. Once we tried to play an instrument that we’d never touched before, it made each of us understand just how amazing this program really is…” Click here to see a photo gallery of the event.

Program History

Ravinia Festival and The People's Music School have joined forces to bring music education to children.  In 2008 The People's Music School initiated an orchestra training project and created the YOURS (Youth Orchestras United Rita Simo) Orchestra at Hibbard Elementary School, modeled after Venezuela's El Sistema. The system has embraced the notion of transforming groups of children into communities of musicians who in turn transform their communities.  The Ravinia Festival Women's Board initiated the REACH Orchestra at Hibbard in January 2010.  The partnership now has 3 orchestras at Hibbard where 160 students participate in sectional and full orchestra rehearsals 5 days a week for 2 hours after school.



2011 Ravinia Poster Announced!













Yesterday the Women’s Board of Ravinia unveiled the winning poster design for the 2011 season.

A collective gasp of WOW was heard in the room as everyone saw the poster for the first time! It was amazing.

When we first saw the design created by Joshua Lowe, who is a graduate student at Purdue University, we knew it would be the perfect fit for our upcoming season. The colors are gorgeous and the stained glass look is absolutely beautiful. The talented young artist said the stained-glass look of the trees was inspired by the arts-and-crafts architectural style that was part of Ravinia’s 1904 design, which can be seen in the Martin Theatre—the only building standing from the park’s original construction.

We can’t wait to see this design showcased in the park.

Look for the poster in storefronts throughout the area. Shoot the 2-D bar code with your smart phone to find special offers at Order your poster today! It is available online at – we know it will be a hot seller this season!

Jennifer Wood

Manager of Retail Operations


Live! with Eric Ferguson & Kelly?

Could Eric Ferguson from 101.9FM The Mix’s Eric and Kathy morning radio show be the next guest co-host on "Live! with Regis & Kelly"? He is in the top 10 “Men of Radio Co-host For a Day Search.”

Take a look at his video and vote here. You must vote for five finalist to make the cut.

"Live! with Regis & Kelly" taped their show from the Ravinia Festival pavilion back in 2003.  Below Amy Schrage recalls the scenes from backstage.  


"Live! with Regis & Kelly" from the Ravinia Festival pavilion 2003

It was a crisp October morning in 2003, the trees were a gorgeous sight filled with fall colors. Normally on a day like this, Ravinia would be calm, serene and very quiet, since the summer season would have wrapped for the year a few weeks before. But not today. Today Regis and Kelly were taking over the pavilion, bringing their New York based television show to our festival, filming two episodes of their famed talk show in front of crowd of excited Chicago fans.

I remember it like it was last week. The filming went smoothly as the crew moved guest after guest on stage to chat with the talk show hosts including ex-Chicago Bulls player Scottie Pippen, actress Jessica Biel and the late Bernie Mac.

One of the last guests, actor and Chicago-born Gary Sinise, shared his stories of growing up in Ravinia’s hometown of Highland Park while he worked for our festival in the summers. During these college years, Sinise was also starting his acting company, Steppenwolf Theatre, in the basement of a church in Highland Park. Since these actors were college kids with a lack of funds, Sinise would “borrow” supplies from Ravinia such as toilet paper and paper towels for their start-up theater. The crowd roared as Sinise left the pavilion stage during his interview with Regis and Kelly and rolled out a cart full of supplies to pay Ravinia back for what he took in the 1970s. The show ended that day with an energizing performance of “Where is the Love?” by chart-topping group the Black Eyed Peas.

The Ravinia staff had an amazing time that day, it was fun to produce a television show from our stage and we were so happy that the Ravinia-concert goers and Chicago fans were able to be a part of this experience.  To see more photos from the day, check out the Ravinia photo gallery.

Amy Schrage

Associate Director of Communications


Bob Dylan played a whole concert on my guitar

Guest blogger, David Lauterstein, shares an incredible story from Ravinia's 1964 season:

 In June, 1964 Bob Dylan played an acoustic concert at Ravinia Park in Highland Park, Illiinois. Ravinia's an outdoor venue with reserved seating under a bandshell and most of the concert-goers sitting out on extensive grassy lawns.

Even before Dylan came on, I was filled with the excitement and optimism so common in those days - feeling the world change for the better right in front of our eyes. Next to me an immigrant man and his grandson sat and he pointed with glowing eyes to Dylan as he walked onto the stage..."Look, my dear grandson, here is someone who will help make this world a better place."

Right after the concert began, rain began pouring down and Dylan called for everyone on the lawn to come in out of the rain and under the bandshell to stay dry. People ran in from every direction – like rain. There was a celebratory energy in the liberated crowd which now sat in every aisle and every space.

During his third song, Dylan broke a string.

He yelled out, “Anyone out there have a string or a guitar?”

I was 16 then and carried my guitar everywhere. So I walked up to the stage (my friends shouting, "Lauterstein, Lauterstein!") with my guitar – a beautiful Martin Dreadnought - and handed it to him.

He started his next song.

He said, “If this song’s no good, it’s the fault of this guitar!”

When he got done, he said, “This guitar’s better’n my guitar!”

Needless to say, my already uncontainable excitement overflowed - the entire concert was an ecstatic experience, especially for me, but certainly for the whole crowd.  And Dylan played the rest of the concert on my guitar.

To this day, pride and excitement well up in me that Bob Dylan played a whole concert on my guitar on that liberating night during that world-changing time in history.

Come on people - let's keep on doing it! Singing, playing, working and changing the world for the better!


Ravinia celebrates the holidays with Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

With all of the holiday ornaments Ravinia's Kids Club crafted with your help, we headed down to Navy Pier to put up Ravinia's tree at Winter WonderFest.  Amongst other trees decorated by organizations around Chicago, ornate, elaborate winter scenes and, heck, even an indoor ice skating rink, stands our holiday tree adorned with your Kids Club ornaments.

Winter WonderFest is now open through January 2, so be sure to make your way downtown to enjoy the sights, sounds and variety of attractions that you helped bring to life with your very own holiday decorations from Ravinia's Kids Club.  Get a sneak peak of what is going on at Navy Pier's Winter WonderFest in our gallery.





You're Invited to Decorate Ornaments for the Ravinia Holiday Tree

Ravinia Festival will have a holiday tree on display at Navy Pier's Winter Wonderfest again this year and we're inviting parents and kids to help us put your creative stamp on it. 

Visit us at  Whole Foods Market in Deerfield from  4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 9 to help us decorate ornaments. We'll be using your hand-crafted ornaments to decorate our tree on Navy Pier.

Look for the Ravinia's Kids Club in the cafe and we'll help you get started. You are welcome to decorate an ornament for our holiday tree and make another to place on your own tree at home. Winter treats will also be available for participants.

If you can't make it on Tuesday, look for us again from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 18 at the Ravinia Holiday Fair located in Jen Jensens Park in Highland Park on Roger Williams Avenue between St. Johns and Dean Avenues. In addition to the ornament decorating, you will also be able to shop with the kids and see Santa. There will be plenty of free activities and holiday fun!

You can see our tree on display with the ornaments you create at Navy Pier's Winter WonderFest from December 3 through January 2. Come out and help us spread the holiday cheer!



Ravinia Favorite Patti LuPone Releases Memoir 

If Patti LuPone is “the first lady of Broadway,” then she must be Queen of Ravinia. The multi-talented dynamo has been a major presence at the festival, dating back to the 1980s when she performed in plays like The Robber Bridegroom and The Cradle Will Rock with John Houseman’s Acting Company, but especially over the past decade when she’s won continual raves headlining an almost-annual major music-theater production. In her just released autobiography, Patti LuPone: A Memoir, the star chronicles her entire career and gives keen focus to the Ravinia projects, even citing Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman as her theatrical muse. It was Welz who first connected Patti to Sondheim, casting her in Sweeney Todd for the New York Philharmonic’s production that was essentially reprised at Ravinia. It was the first of several Sondheim shows Patti would do at Ravinia, including Passion, A Little Night Music, Anyone Can Whistle, Sunday in the Park with George and Gypsy, which went on to a Tony-winning turn on Broadway. Patti’s also done her one-woman shows at what she’s fondly come to call “Camp Ravinia.” Read all about this extraordinary career in a breezy biography that’s big on heart (and dish!).


Nick Pullia

Director of Communications


Jennifer's Favorite Things

She’s charming, she’s sweet, and her shop is so neat!  And if you’re a regular in the park, it’s likely that Jennifer Wood, Ravinia Festival’s Retail Operations Manager, has helped you find some of your favorite things at Ravinia Gifts.  Now it’s her turn.  Here are a few of Jennifer’s favorite things:

Jennifer Wood, Retail Operations Manager of Ravinia Festival, poses with the Ravinia Excursion

For cool weather: The Ravinia full-zip appliqué navy zip-up sweatshirt

This universal and super soft collegiate-style sweatshirt is perfect for a chilly night at the park. Jennifer says, “On a night when you see people wearing it en masse, it’s almost like they’re on a team.”

For warm weather: The Ravinia white v-neck tee

“I always want there to be something new in the store when people come in every year so they can add to their collection,” Jennifer says.  This shirt is contemporary, comfortable, and looks good on everyone.  It’s definitely something to consider adding to your wardrobe while at the park. 

Picnic cooler: Excursion

Jennifer describes this tote as the “SUV of picnicking.”  Whether packing a picnic for a small or large group, this tote can handle it.  Not only is it practical, but it’s also environmentally friendly by promoting the concept of reusing.  Check it out! 

 Picnic Accessory: Scroll Candelabra

This adorable piece always brings the same question from customers: “Does the wine bottle come with it?” Unfortunately, it doesn’t, but Jennifer tells people to “make friends and drink quickly” in order to set up this romantic candle set

Ravinia Souvenir: Shot glass candle

This item holds a special place in Jennifer’s heart, as it was the first item sold in the shop this season.  What makes it especially cool is that doubles as a shot glass once the wick burns out!  Not only is it a great item to use on the lawn in here the park, but also in a kitchen or on a patio at home.  Next time you are in Ravinia Gifts, ask Jennifer to hook you up with one of these.

Inspired to find your favorite things?  Be sure to check out Ravinia Gifts next time you come out to the park!  If you just can’t wait to get your hands on all of the great items the shop has to offer, visit us online to browse and buy at any time. 


I'm With the Band...

Working weekends is a term that usually inspires visions of typing away feverishly at a computer, getting through endless stacks of documents and filing for hours on end – not at Ravinia.  When sent out to Wrigley Field (for the second time this season!) to play road for Todd of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, I had no complaints about working on a Saturday.  Todd (and I!) made the trip out to Wrigley, as he would be singing the national anthem that afternoon before the game.  From then on, I can only assume even Todd, from out west in Colorado, became a Cubs fan for the day.



Upon arrival, we were whisked away to the field where we snapped pictures near the dugout.  I know this lifelong Cubs fan was trying her best to believe where she was.  You do not get much closer to the action than on the field!  After filling up our memory cards, we were led to our seats.  We looked on from behind home plate, 11 rows back as Todd sang The Star-Spangled Banner.  His amazing rendition was met with applause and cheers from Cubs and Reds fans alike.  To add to an already perfect Saturday at the baseball game, a pair of jets flew over Wrigley Field just as Todd had finished up. 


Later in the evening, Big Head Todd and the Monsters made their way to Ravinia to put on an unbelievable show with their old friends The BoDeans.  I made sure I was in attendance for that one, too.  Yep, I love my job, even on the weekends.     


Gearing Up for Lollapalooza

As one of my intern duties this summer, I was in charge of overseeing the Ravinia Kids Club, which is a free membership program for kids under 12 years old.  Our Kids Club is a great program that offers discounts in the park to members and encourages kids and their families to come out to Ravinia to learn about music of many genres.  From Ralph’s World to Synergy Brass, we’ve had some very exciting shows and events for families this season. 

Next week we’ll be doing an event that I’ve been looking forward to all summer.  Ravinia will be at Lollapalooza this year!  More specifically, we will be at the Kidzapalooza stage hosting a video karaoke station for all of the cool rocker kids who make it out to the park.  The pint-sized rockstars will be able to choose their own song, dress up in wacky rock n’ roll gear, and get a free DVD recording of their performance.  Kids 10 and under get free admission to Lollapalooza with a ticket-holding adult and there will be plenty of other kid-friendly activities. So, if you already have a ticket, consider bringing the little ones along to enjoy the artists that will be performing on the Kidzapalooza stage and also stop by our karaoke station to take home a truly unique souvenir.

I’m so glad that one of my last weekends working for Ravinia this summer will be spent at Lollapalooza.  I must admit, summer jobs don’t get much cooler than mine.  I’ve really come to value my responsibility with the Ravinia Kids Club for what it has taught me about managing a membership program and running events.  There is a lot of preparation that goes into each special program, but it’s fulfilling when it all comes together. I know the things I have learned here at Ravinia will come in handy when I return to college this fall, and even beyond then.   

Lisa Sanders

Communications Intern