From the Archives: Children Concerts

After working on Ravinia's Family Fun Guide, I started wondering how long Ravinia has offered children's entertainment at the park. Low and behold I found a flyer for the First Children's Afternoon during the summer of 1922 featuring dance and music. I have a feeling that this performance was a little different from our Kraft Kids Concerts.


Germaine Maschoff

Corporate Relations and Communications Coordinator


Singers Audition for America's Most Beloved Musical

Auditions for Annie Get Your Gun brought in some great talent last week. I walked into Ravinia's Bennett • Gordon Hall lobby and it was packed with applicants and intensity. Performers were whispering their lines between deep calming breaths awaiting their name to be called out loud and clear-knowing that this could be their one big break.

Inside the hall there were three judges halfway back on center. From my vantage point, I could see them thumbing through the next persons head shots before they walked to the stage. And as each person came through the door they were evaluated on everything from the way they walked to the directions they gave the piano accompanist. I was actually feeling nervous for most of them and can only imagine the pressure of being in front of 3,200 plus people and trying to hit the big notes like Patti LuPone or Brian Stokes Mitchell.

So if your as curious as I am and what to know how they do what they do or just enjoy a good show, join us August 13-15 for an event not to be missed. Until then, keep practicing your vocals in the shower.

Russell Jenkins
Manager of Graphics and Photography 


Update on Roofing Project


They're out in full force today. Our roofing team is scrapping,  tearing, ripping, laying and busting tail to give us a new and  improved roof. I spent an hour top-side with the guys and got the low-down on the job from Jim Altman. Jim is a roofing veteran of 50 years and has redone all the Ravinia buildings that required his specialized skills. You can view updated photos here.

My first question to Jim was how often does a job like this need to be done? He responded with a chuckle, "Well, you'll be an old man like me and I'll be dead." I quickly thanked him on behalf of the entire staff that it would be awhile before we needed to wear a very distinct brand of "tarfume" again. So, what goes into this job one might ask? Well, I found out that the old roof needs to be stripped away, cleaned and then leveled out to take the new. Then, the new dry asphalt rolls are laid overlapping each other and fastened with metal jibs. These jibs are slammed into the roof with a kind of vertical magnetic hammer and placed every eight inches on seam and every 18 inches down the middle.

How many metal discs does it take to cover the pavilion roof? I have no idea, I never win the jelly bean game, but I'm guessing well north of 100,000. So, after the jibs, there are two coats of hot tar and one last white cover for sun reflection. After that, you've got a new roof. Jim suspects the job will take another three weeks if the weather permits, so I'll keep you posted on any new developments, especially if the 4 wheeler race ensues.

Russell Jenkins
Manager of Graphics and Photography 


REACH Orchestra at Hibbard Elementary

The newly created REACH Orchestra at William G. Hibbard Elementary has been practicing for weeks now. As I walked down the hallway of the school, and my own elementray school days starting to flash before my eyes, I smiled when I heard the bell ring. Almost immediately I saw kids with instrument cases run towards a group of classrooms and start to line up in anticipation of their daily after-school rehearsal. Imagine the looks on their faces when they realized that they would also be getting new REACH uniforms that day, handed out by members of the Ravinia Women's Board and friends from Fifth Third Bank. You can view photo highlights here. As the kids started their Tuesday afternoon sectionals, it was so rewarding to see them learning together and being excited about music. I have a feeling those blue and white jackets will make an appearance nearly everyday at Hibbard!

Amy Schrage
Associate Director of Communications


Photo Blog: Behind the Scenes at Ravinia

Catch a glimpse of the biggest space you've never seen at Ravinia. That's right, we are resurfacing the pavilion roof. The tar buckets are out and the flags are up. Everything is prepared and ready to roll for this week. Did you know that they are going to be using 4-wheelers up there? They also used a crane to haul the equipment up to the roof. It almost looks like the flags are set out for the rooftop 4-wheeler race. I'll be sure to keep an eye on the progress just in case that happens.
Russell Jenkins
Manager of Graphics & Photography



Love Story Contest Winner: To Many Happy Returns

In honor of Valentine's Day we held a contest on our Twitter and Facebook pages for our followers and fans to send us their most romantic memories at Ravinia. It was very touching to read all of the stories and to see what a huge impact summers at Ravinia have had on some of our guests. We will be featuring some of our favorites soon. This first story is one of the winning entries from Mark of Champaign, Illinois. 

"Emily and I met in the Spring of 2001 at a Memorial Day cookout at a friend’s house in Chicago.  Unfortunately for the both of us, I lived in Chicago and she was attending the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.   Nevertheless, our long distance relationship would grow over the next six years as we quickly learned to cherish every moment of our weekends together.  Often our dates involved exploring Chicago’s art fairs, street festivals and great restaurants all summer long. 

Still, our favorite date became packing a dinner, a bottle of wine and a blanket, and boarding the Metra right to the door of Ravinia.  We spread out under the stars as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra seemed to provide us with  our own, private serenade.  Our multiple visits to Ravinia over those summer months each year were so memorable, I knew it would provide the perfect backdrop for me to ask the love of my life to marry me.   

On July 21, 2007, Emily accepted my proposal on the lawn of Ravinia, and again I would sit…under the stars…listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra…but now with my fiancée.

This past August, 2009, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a familiar visit to Ravinia’s lawn to begin an anniversary tradition reflecting on one of the important places our love began…and will continue to grow."

(Photo of the proposal provided by Mark.)


Photo Blog: Ravinia After the Snow Storm 

What a difference a day makes. The snow finally stopped and the sun is out.  The winter storm yesterday left us a big pile of crisp, white beautiful snow today.

The grounds here at Ravinia look as breathtaking as ever. That doesn't mean we don't miss seeing the green grass and colorful flowers, though!

We can't wait for the warm weather and great music under the stars. Until then, enjoy some photos of the snow-covered park by clicking here



Women's Board Launches New Orchestra

On Monday, January 25th the Ravinia Women’s Board launched a new youth orchestra, called REACH at Hibbard Elementary.  "What a wonderful feeling it was to watch as 72 students received their instruments and started to make music for the first time.  It was like Christmas with no wrapping paper!" said Caroline Huebner. 

The  Women’s Board of Ravinia Festival, in conjunction with  Ravinia’s professional education staff and the People’s Music  School of Chicago, has created a new student orchestra for children 8 to 12 years old at the William  G. Hibbard Elementary School in the Albany Park  neighborhood of Chicago. The students selected their instruments, which were funded by a grant from Fifth Third Bank, and played them for the first time. WGN News was there to capture the event. You can watch  the video here. The program is modeled on the  successful “El Sistema” orchestral education plan devised in Venezuela. It is a system of total immersion  in music study. The Women’s Board continues a instrument drive, please contact Agatha Hwong at 847-266-5045 or

Photo by Patrick Gipson. Special thanks to Caroline Huebner & Patty McGrath, Co-chairs of the Reach*Teach*Play Task Force.


Ultimate Birthday Celebration

Is there a better time of year to celebrate than summer? Could there be a better event to have a celebration then the Women's Board Gala Benefit Evening? I think not and this year's ultimate party will be on July 31, 2010. Don't miss it!

Honoring the 80th birthday of the great American composer Stephen Sondheim with a program featuring an incredible lineup of soloists who have been featured in Ravinia’s Sondheim celebrations since they began in 2001.

The evening of Sondheim’s “greatest hits,” will star Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, George Hearn and Michael Cerveris. Conductor Paul Gemignani will lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lonny Price will direct. The program will include highlights from past Ravinia Festival presentations of Sondheim shows including Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Passion, Sunday in the Park with George, Anyone Can Whistle, West Side Story and Gypsy.  


Photo Blog: Reach. Teach. Play. 


Fourth graders at Sherwood Elementary learned to play world rhythms on percussion instruments as part of their 10 week residency with internationally acclaimed world percussionist Doug Brush.  Ravinia Festival partners with the District 112 Education Foundation to bring high quality music programs to Highland Park’s elementary and middle schools.  

This photo was provided by Isaac Sinnett. He is a project manager for the Education & Community Partners department at Ravinia Festival.