Guest Poetry


The music, unbound, rises to the clouds
And floats there,
While clouds sway and dance to the erotic melody;
Cicadas provide the background
Against which the crowd fades into nothingness.
And the rhythmic sounds take ownership
Of the night.

Listen to each note as it takes life and moves into
Independent being,
Traipsing softly across the grass,
Flitting from treetop to treetop just out of reach;
Watch closely and you’ll see the
Creatures of the night
Taking up the dance.

The sweet soprano voice of violins
Calls to the throbbing dignified bass
In a language only they can understand.
It is a private party,
With trombones and drums and flutes
As special guests,
While we become voyeurs, eavesdropping
On the intimacy they alone share.

Suddenly an intruder appears
And the notes are chained, not free,
Dancing only at the stranger’s command
In polite and orderly fashion,
Waiting, restrained, until they can escape,
Their wild passions loosing once again
Into the night.

Nadine McBeth 8/5/06
© 8/6/06


Wynne Delacoma was not only classical music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1991 to 2006, she is also on the faculty of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a regular contributor to Ravinia Program Magazine.

Wagner: Overture to The Flying Dutchman
All the orchestral color and surging tension you could wish to evoke a mighty, storm-tossed sailing ship. Cue it up on your iPod the next time you visit Santiago Calatrava’s Milwaukee Art Museum. Your heart will soar at the sound of Wagner’s music and the sight of the museum poised like a glistening, white bird on the Lake Michigan shore.

Mozart: Act I Trio, “Soave sia il vento” (May the wind be gentle), from Così fan tutte Three minutes of tenderly sublime singing as the opera’s two sisters wish Godspeed to the lovers they think are heading off to war. That the lovers and the old gentleman who joins them in the farewell are playing a cruel trick on the young women doesn’t undermine the lustrous moment.

John Adams: Grand Pianola Music
Movement III, “On the Dominant Divide”
Opening with a brassy rustle in the orchestra, it builds to a thrilling outpouring of relentless, glittering arpeggios on the pianos, culminating in what Adams correctly calls a “flag-waving, gaudy tune.’’ It’s impossible to listen to its heroic bombast without wanting to dance grandly across a very large room.

Dvořák: Aria, “O silver moon,’’ from Rusalka
Sometimes one turn of melody or shift in harmony is enough to bring on the goose bumps. Listen to Renée Fleming or the soprano of your choice nestle into the slowly unfolding peak of this folk-tinged love song and feel your heart melt.

J.S. Bach: Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor (BWV 1004) for solo violin
Noble, austere, full of rhythmic vitality and endlessly inventive melody, this is Bach at his most profoundly moving.


What Are Your Five Classical Music Picks?

In the current issue of Ravinia Program Magazine, we asked several music professionals to select five pieces that they thought might “hook” a first-time classical listener. Here are my selections. Feel free to tell us what works you would choose. In the coming weeks, we will share other answers with you too. So stay tuned!

John Schauer
Associate Director of Communications, Publications
Ravinia Festival

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
First movement: [Allegro]

Perhaps more than any other Baroque piece, this work for me typifies the thrilling sound of brilliant Baroque orchestration. It’s like Las Vegas neon turned into glorious sound.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
First movement: Allegro con brio

Sometimes it’s hard not to believe that this is the most thrilling symphonic movement of all time. The final coda—that moment when you first think the movement will end, but instead Beethoven takes off on a final, frantic flight—can really take your breath away.

Rossini: Overture to Guillaume Tell
Baby Boomers and those even older will forever associate the final portion of the “William Tell Overture,” as it is usually called, with The Lone Ranger television and radio series, but that still doesn’t destroy the incredible excitement it can generate.

Donizetti: Sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor

Here is a selection that has been lampooned by many artists, not the least of which are the Three Stooges. When properly sung, it clearly demonstrates the glory of human voices joined in a gorgeous ensemble. And that tune! Just try to get it out of your head.

Tchaikovsky: “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is performed to death by countless ballet companies every Christmas, but that still hasn’t dulled the luster of this catchy piece. The sudden minor-key interlude by the cellos inevitably brings tears to my eyes.


Ravinia's 2008 Gala

Ravinia was recently abuzz with preparations for the 2008 Gala Benefit Evening. Everyone seemed to be working on last minute details to make the night a huge success. I really did not know what to expect, but I did know that I would have the opportunity to get all dolled up which is one of my favorite things to do.

The event is all made possible by the Ravinia Women’s Board, which is made up of 132 talented women from all over the Chicagoland area who are essentially ambassadors for the festival. The members’ goals are to enhance the park experience for everyone and raise money for Ravinia, which is not-for-profit. They host themed nights like the Latin Dance Night, advocate for amenities like the Ravinia Festival Gift Shop, help fund beautiful artwork around the park, continue the festival’s commitment to education and outreach, and so much more.

The Gala co-chairs Bobbie Besant Denison and Claudia Stewart Lane and Women’s Board chairman Jane Casper had been tirelessly planning and organizing this past year to create the fantastic showcase of the park. With Kehoe Designs constructing the romantic décor inside the tent, Jewell Catering prepared exquisite food, and Kiri Te Kanawa showcased the evening performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with James Conlon conducting.

The 1,000 guests enjoyed a cocktail reception sponsored by BMO Capital Markets, while the dinner was sponsored by Aon Corporation, and Howard Stotler sponsored the evening concert for the second year in a row for the largest event hosted by the Women’s Board. Overall the Gala raised about $1.2 million which will help fund Ravinia Festival’s education and community projects.

Words cannot describe the beauty of the night adequately, so I have attached some pictures below to help recreate the grand celebration of Ravinia Festival.

Germaine Maschoff
Communications Intern


Nothing Beats a Full House

While this may not be accurate in Texas Hold ‘Em, when it comes to filling Ravinia’s pavilion on those magical summer evenings when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s annual residency is in full swing, this is unquestionable.

Full House® is Ravinia Festival’s grass-roots campaign to increase the average pavilion attendance of CSO concerts. The problem that we must face each season is how exactly do we, nay, all organizations promoting classical music, encourage a younger audience to attend? Or, how do we encourage those who already attend to bring their friends and family?

One of the ways that we at Ravinia go about finding answers to these all-important questions is to host Full House tent parties following designated CSO performances. At these parties, members of Ravinia’s staff, Board of Trustees, and Women’s Board ask concert goers to share their thoughts regarding their experience at that evening’s concert and give us suggestions as to how we can entice new listeners to give us a try.

The feedback that we have received thus far is phenomenally insightful, but we are always happy to hear from our guests. If you attended a CSO concert this summer and would like to tell us about your experience in the park, please visit the Full House section of our website for additional information about the Full House program, and to complete a brief survey.

I would like to extend a big “thank you!” to all those who attended our Full House events, and to everyone who came out to see the CSO this summer. This has been a truly remarkable year, and I am already looking forward to Ravinia’s announcement of the 2009 CSO season this fall!

Ashley Ciesielka
Communications Coordinator