Pic of the Week: Ravinia in the Classroom

As part of Ravinia's Music Discovery Program, a jazz quartet led by Jeff Handley performs songs from The Great American Songbook; a title which also serves to name one of the three strands used by Ravinia to help students (K-3) explore music.

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



Backstage Gallery: Season’s Best, 2009

Whether you had the chance to visit Ravinia once or came every week, it truly was a wonderful summer (even though the weather didn’t always cooperate). There were premiers, scavenger hunts, video screens, collaborations, and of course world class music.  Although these memories are best remembered through our ears, a picture still has the ability to make you feel like you were there.  Please take a moment to stroll down memory lane and take a look at our favorites from 2009.

Germaine Maschoff

Corporate Relations and Communications Coordinator



Gift of Summer

As the leaves change colors and the days become shorter it is hard to believe that winter is almost here.  More importantly, it’s even harder to accept that summer is definitely over and won’t be back for a long time.  This fall has been my first “off-season” at Ravinia and it has not slowed down (as I expected).  There are Rising Stars concerts and our Reach.Teach.Play. program is in full swing providing music education to over 60 public schools around Chicago.  Additionally, we have been doing a lot of planning; from booking artists to creating promotions and special events.  And although we are still waiting for the first snow, there is sunshine and beautiful music at the end of the tunnel; the 2010 Classical Grass Pass and Kraft Kids Punch Pass are on sale today! 

Things are especially busy for the Retail Manager of Ravinia Gifts.  I had the opportunity to catch Jennifer Wood for a few minutes to answer some questions.

When the Gift Shop is closed, do you still have to work?
“Ravinia Gifts is open all season long! It is surprising how many times I get asked this question. I am busy preparing for next season and helping customers – even when the park isn’t open it seems there is always someone who wants to buy something from the store.”

What makes the Gift of Summer Packages a great gift?
“The Gift of Summer Packages are value-priced, perfect for anyone who comes to the park during the summer and are truly functional and fun gifts. Plus they make awesome gifts for the person who has everything. Additionally, every purchase at Ravinia Gifts supports Reach. Teach. Play., Ravinia’s education and community outreach programs – so your gift actually helps out the Festival in more ways than one.”

Have you been able to take a vacation since the end of the season?
“WOW. Not yet. I did go on a buying trip to Orlando and counted this as a mini vacation. I will try and get away for a couple of days to refresh – but honestly we do slow down a bit at some point, so it’s not so bad and I like working :)”

What do you work on during the off-season?
“I work on a lot of different things to prepare for next season. I purchase all of our product during the off-season (this is really fun picking everything out), hire staff, design ads, work on the website, work with our communications team on promotions and events, meet with customers who want to visit the shop (we do open for private shopping trips), work on financials and lots of small projects that crop up. It seems to never end – which is great fun.”

What can Ravinia-goers look forward to in 2010 at the Gift Shop?
“Every year my staff and I try to change our product mix to introduce new designs and hot products. We are looking at reusable tote bags, new sweatshirts styles, different materials for our blankets, fun new picnic accessories and more. We will introduce new product online in the spring for a sneak preview! So be on the lookout!”

What’s an insider tip on the Ravinia shopping experience?
“I can open the store anytime of the year for private shopping! And I do! You can come and shop without the crowds and the lines and take time to pick out what you want. I can also special order product in case we are out of something you saw during the summer season. Or if you are looking for that hard to find gift – I can help source it too.”

Germaine Maschoff
Corporate Relations and Communications Coordinator

Photo by Russell Jenkins


Lincoln Book Shop Live

It’s a little hole in the wall on Chicago Avenue. Easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. But it came to life last night. The Abraham Lincoln Bookshop – and its proprietor, Lincoln expert and memorabilia trader Daniel Weinberg, hosted Ravinia Festival in a panel discussion with some of the composers and musicians the festival commissioned to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.  The discussion was webcast live, and that presentation will be available for viewing soon at Ravinia.org. Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman, who instigated the many Lincoln activities and commissions over the past three years joined the panel with Chicago composer Lita Grier, whose “Anne Rutledge” set to music the Edgar Lee Masters poem that told the story of Abraham Lincoln’s one true love; Elbio Rodríguez Barilari, whose “Lincolniana” fused classical, Latin rhythms and spoken word to flush out the relationship between Lincoln and Mexican president Benito Juarez; the Lincoln Trio, who toured the state with performances of Lawrence Dillon’s award-winning chamber piece “The Better Angels of Our Nature;” and Chicago's own Ramsey Lewis, who won rave reviews for his multi-media jazz tone poem “A Proclamation of Hope. The live web discussion was held in the quaintly attractive Abraham Lincoln Book Shop at 357 Chicago Ave, Chicago. Each artist talked about the experience of turning history into art and their own personal thoughts on America’s first martyred president. Usually, I’m satisfied having the work speak for itself, but it was fascinating to hear the artists tell their tales.

Russell Jenkins
Manager of Graphics and Photography 



Ravinia Remembers Erich Kunzel

For the past 29 years, Erich Kunzel has conducted the Labor Day Spectacular at Ravinia each year featuring Tchaikovsky’s "1812” Overture. Earlier this year, Maestro Kunzel was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and forced to cancel his scheduled performances this season, which included Ravinia’s Labor Day weekend tradition. We are sad to say that he passed away this week at the age of 74.

Having achieved world-wide acclaim, Maestro Kunzel had entertained classical audiences all over the world. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him as “The Prince of Pops” because he recorded extensively with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra throughout his career, and toured with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Maestro Kunzel made his first appearance at Ravinia in the summer of 1978. Since then he appeared at Ravinia more than any other artist in our history.

During Maestro Kunzel's time at Ravinia he led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra with a wide range of style, including famous film scores, Broadway tunes and American standards. Who can forget those nights of movie music with Maestro Kunzel dancing along with the characters from Star Wars on stage? You can see some of our favorite Maestro Kunzel moments in our photo gallery.

Ravinia friends and family will miss his lively performances, vibrant spirit and genuine warm heart. We will be thinking of him this Labor Day and remembering his many years at Ravinia Festival.

Ravinia General Manager Pat Sanders said, "Erich Kunzel and I started our 'Ravinia stage careers' in 1978 and together we produced 127 shows. He was a gentleman, a scholar and a musical visionary who holds the record for having four concerts on Ravinia’s Top 20 Best Attended Concerts list. He brought joy to tens of thousands of Festival patrons and I am honored to have been his friend. Farewell, my Prince of Pop!"


Heather Haigh
Marketing Assistant