As editor of Ravinia’s program books, I often find myself looking through past issues for historical references about the festival—for instance, a 1921 program announcing “Spectacular 7-reel Motion Picture Features, in conjunction with musical program by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.” But perhaps the best—and most amusing—reflection of the times can be found in the old advertisements. A 1927 program featured “a new ‘pick-up’ drink from Switzerland” called Ovaltine; and legendary soprano Elisabeth Rethberg plugging cigarettes (!), saying, “I think all singers recognize that Lucky Strikes are not only kind to the throat but afford the greatest enjoyment—that is why I prefer them.” Those ads are priceless, and I wonder if anyone would be interested in seeing some of them reproduced in our current program magazine.
Associate Director of Communications, Publications
If you are interested in seeing old ads reproduced in the program books, please e-mail email@example.com.
One of the perks of working at Ravinia Festival is access to artists, and the opportunity to look behind the curtain. Usually, it's a glimpse into the minds of musicians. But this week I had the extraordinary opportunity to tour Ravinia's new Dining Pavilion with the men who made it happen: architects Dirk Lohan and Michael Barnes. We were showing the building to Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin (whose rave review of the building appears in the July 1 edition of the Arts section).
From the instant the sledgehammer took the first blow in leveling the old Mirabelle restaurant last September, Ravinia and its cadre of artisans and workers had but nine months to clear the debris and erect a new restaurant that would afford breakthrough amenities to the festival, including its first second-story dining opportunities with views overlooking the famous lawn and the first private banquet areas, not to mention a walk-in gift shop. I watched. Sometimes curious, sometimes downright dubious, but always interested, I watched. Then when the impossible happened and this beautiful new structure opened on time with the 2007 season, I got a copy of a time-lapse video of the entire process and watched again and again and again. I thought I knew everything about this building. So it was a fun process to hear new ideas from the building's designers and reactions from the critical mind of an outside expert.
It never occurred to me that the white, round columns supporting the second floor were designed to mimic both the posts that prop up the pavilion and the stand of birch trees that guard the entry to the new building.
Who but an architect-or critic-would realize that the floor-to-ceiling glass walls in the Park View restaurant, uninterrupted by structural support, would be the only way to fully provide the best people-watching in town.
And I could have looked up at the unfinished ceiling a million times without giving thought to how the exposed ducts help provide that open, relaxed feeling Ravinia is famous for-nothing too stuffy or prissy.
I have new appreciation for Ravinia as a venue. The new dining pavilion adds to its ability to create sense of occasion while still remaining as casual as your own backyard.
Director of Communications