The honor of presenting Leon Fleisher is one of the great joys of an arts administrator. To be able to present this legend so soon after his 80th birthday and in Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto is icing on the cake. And as a longtime Ravinia patron mentioned to me, she believes it was 60 years ago yesterday that the late, great, and much lamented William Kapell played the same Beethoven Concerto – a fitting and sublime coincidence for two extraordinary American pianists.
It has also been a pleasure this week to see the fascinating Lang Lang profile in the New Yorker and, in the same magazine, mention of the latest Broadway opening for Bill T. Jones, one of Ravinia’s commission-ees for the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009.
But the true event of recent days was James Conlon’s much lauded performance of the Mahler Eighth Symphony with the CSO, the CSO Chorus in celebration of their 50th anniversary, the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, Chicago Children’s Choir and eight terrific soloists. Even the cicadas were charmed, silencing their ecstatic rattle just before the phrase. “The ineffable here is accomplished…”