Inspiration and Gratitude at the Steans Music Institute for Young Artists

An open letter from Steans Music Institute jazz artist Or Bareket to mentor Rufus Reed:

Dear Rufus,

I wanted to thank you for the experience I had participating in the Ravinia workshop- I went back home to Israel a few days ago, and I couldn't hope for a better way to spend my last week in the U.S.
I feel fortunate that I got to work with you a lot- I learned so much from you about my instrument and my craft from our lesson and the group sessions.
It is a rare thing that a great musician is an equally great teacher, and it's even more uncommon to meet someone who teaches with such generosity, patience and grace like you have. I feel that I was able to absorb things on a very deep level because the way teach, the way you play and the way you generally conduct yourself all feel like one thing, it's a tangible and clear experience that I feel I can always go back to in my memory and be inspired.
I work to cultivate this quality in myself as a human being, musician and teacher.
The same goes for David, Nathan and Curtis- being around all of you for a week was so important to me because of the strong sense of community, friendship and humanity as a context for music making- something that's generally overlooked, I feel, in this increasingly academic world. I want to carry this spirit on into my life and my music.
I don't know when I'll be coming back to New-York, it's going to be a while but I'll definitely do it. and I hope we can meet again and I can study with you more.
I'm really digging into the A string meanwhile, and it's going really well.

Thank You,


Chef Thierry Blouet - Ravinia Guest Chef on July 15

Chef Blouet was born in Puerto Rico in 1964, and his French parents educated him in France and Mexico, where haute cuisine is an integral ingredient of the good life.  His paternal grandfather, Max Blouet, spent 30 years as general manager of the ultra-elegant George V in Paris.

In February 2000 Chef Blouet's 20-year culinary career culminated in the most prestigious of all chef awards. Admitted to the inner circle of the "Maîtres Cuisiniers de France," he is among only a few hundred French chefs who hold the title that is the highest qualification in the world of gastronomy. His cuisine reflects both his own intuitive ability and a uniquely personal gift: an intense sense of art and beauty.

An extremely visual chef, his dishes have been described as sensual compositions.

At Café des Artistes, Chef  Blouet trains and challenges a new generation of chefs. Over the last 10 years, his chefs and ex-chefs have participated in the most important national competitions and always finish in the very top ranks.  His newest endeavor is Café des Artistes del Mar, located in Punta Mita.

In addition to his own business, Blouet, who is also a member of the Académie Culinaire de France, brings together chefs from France, Mexico, Canada and the United States to share and enrich their cooking techniques while maintaining traditionally high standards. He also devotes himself to promoting important cultural and “foodie” fiestas in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico.  His special interest lies in the Gourmet Festival held annually in Puerto Vallarta, where chefs from all over the world team up with chefs from the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta during the month of November.

Chef Blouet has participated twice in the Highland Park Sister Cities Foundation fund-raising dinners held in Highland Park.  He has collaborated with Carlos Nieto of Carlos’ Restaurant to prepare a gourmet dinner to raise money for charities in Puerto Vallarta supported by the sister cities committees of Highland Park and Puerto Vallarta.  He is unselfish in his efforts to support charities in Puerto Vallarta, and his skills and reputation have earned him status as a celebrity chef in Mexico and the rest of the northern hemisphere.  Most recently he appeared as a guest chef at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago. 

Ravinia is honored to welcome Thierry Blouet as a guest chef for the Highland Park-Puerto Vallarta sister cities concert.  We also welcome his wife, Rose, who has accompanied him on this visit.

You can experience the creations of Chef Blouet at the July 15 Beethoven Concertos featuring Jorge Federico Osorio. In addition, you'll also witness the creation of an international mural by acclaimed artist Oscar Romero and much more. Hear traditional Mexican music by Juan Rivera and Los Pichardo prior to the CSO concert. Tickets are still available.

Mr. Harza Receives Life Trustee Award

Ravinia Life Trustee Richard D. Harza received the Marion M. Lloyd Life Trustee Award at an annual gathering of Life Trustees and past Women’s Board chairs of the Festival. The award is given by the Ravinia Associates—our young professionals’ board—to honor the dedication and long-term support of one Ravinia Life Trustee each year. Mr. Harza has been involved with Ravinia since the summer of 1936, when he served as an usher at the legendary Benny Goodman concerts, and his dedication has not waned since. He became a member of the board in 1981 and a Life Trustee in 1991, and has supported many efforts of the Festival, most notably when he and his wife Dorothy named the John D. Harza Building in memory of their son. The Harza Building houses the Steans Institute for Young Artists and Bennett•Gordon Hall.
Greg Walters
Director of Development

Interview and Performance with Welz Kauffman

Ravinia’s President and CEO, Welz Kauffman was recently interviewed about the upcoming Ravinia season on Chicago Tonight. In addition, you can see him perform a Rachmaninoff piece – six hands, one piano – with Josephine Lee and Marta Aznavoorian.

Ravinia in Mystery Novel

There’s much to recommend in the Jack Doyle mystery series by Ben Franklin Award-winner John McEvoy. But The Significant Seven, the fourth novel from this Evanston writer—the former Midwest editor and senior correspondent for the Daily Racing Form—has something extra special going for it: A visit to Ravinia Festival. The hero of the story pays his $10 lawn admission to picnic on the lawn during a Martin Theatre concert. McEvoy gives a fun description of the experience and even offers up historical detail on our 106-year-old venue, noting: “This is where George Gershwin played Rhapsody in Blue in 1936. So many people attended, Doyle had read, that hundreds boosted themselves up and listened while seated on the limbs of trees that surrounded the pavilion and lawn.” McEvoy also gives a nice shout-out to Penny Tyler, Chicago’s great jazz maven, who has been booking Ravinia’s jazz lineup with Ramsey Lewis for years.

Nick Pullia
Director of Communications

Manolos and Cosmos and Classics, Oh My!

I am an avid supporter of classical music and Cosmos (and great shoes, of course!), so I can only express a fraction of my excitement in words about the Ultimate Girls' Night Out on July 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ravinia.  The price is only $50 per person for you and three of your best ladies to kick back, rest those high-heeled feet and let the sweet sounds of Mozart and Bernstein, played by the CSO, set the mood for an evening to remember.  Ravinia has even whipped up the new and exclusive Ravinia Cosmo to tickle your taste buds.  No one is going hungry either, because there will be plenty of appetizers.  Did I mention the Cosmos?!  Oh, and don't forget to dig out your favorite stillettos, pumps, or slingbacks for the event, because the owner of the best pair of shoes will be walking away with an even better pair of Manolo Blahniks.  Manolo. Blahniks. (!!!!!)  Well, I'm sold.  Time to live out my dream of being on Sex and the City. I've always considered myself more of a Charlotte.  Now I'll just have to find a Carrie, a Samantha, and a Miranda.  Can't wait to scope out all of those great shoes!  Get your tickets here.  See you ladies (or gentlemen) at the Ravinia Ultimate Girls' Night Out!

-Kristin Ayers
Marketing Intern


Mom & Daughter Bond Through Music at Ravinia

Each year Ravinia invites schools involved in the REACH*TEACH*PLAY program to perform at the festival. Thousands of students have graced our stages. This year a Ravinia's Director of Group Sales, Mindy Moore, got the thrill of watching her daughter make her Ravinia debut at the tender age of 11 year s old. Here they share their own perspectives of that concert.

Mom Said 

When I walked into the Bennett Gordon    Hall at Ravinia Festival and saw my daughte r, Montana,  sitting up there in her black pants, school u niform top, and her combed hair, my heart went array.  She  saw me and gave me the hairspray finger wave and I knew we were connected. When the music began I began to cry with pride and joy.  As a parent we work hard to do the r ight thing by our kids and this was a wonderful confirmation that all is well.  She is growing up and has the confidence to sit on a professional st age and play the violin. 

Seeing her everyday is a blessing and a gift, seeing her happy and flourishing is a selfish joy.

Daughter Said

Hi, my name is Montana Moore I am 11 y ears old and I go to Edgewood Middle School. I play violin in my school orchestra. I played Pictures and Exabitions in the Bennet Gorden Hall with Edgewood, Elm Place, and Northwood. It was amazing for me to play on the stage at Ravinia Festival. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life. Just hearing all of the clapping made me happy because the clapping was for me all for me. I loved this event.

A Wedding To Be Remembered

Ravinia Festival recently hosted the wedding of Morgan Fiedler and Nathan Delack. It was a spectacular event with perfect weather for a spring wedding.  The ceremony was hosted in one of the tents on the grounds, with the sculpture path lending itself to a dramatic isle for the bride to process along.  Cocktail hour was hosted in the stunning Park View Restaurant and terraces, overlooking the idyllically manicured grounds of the park.  Afterwards, the reception was hosted in the PNC Bank Private Dining Rooms with entertainment provided courtesy of Underwater People.  The bride and groom were surprised by a sweet treat from Executive Chef Tim Radack at the end of the evening-- delicious passed home made mini ice cream sandwiches with chocolate ganache for dipping.  Every detail of the event was carefully planned and organized through Susan Cordogan from Big City Bride. 

See more photos from the event here. Cheers to the happy couple!!

Devin Robnick
Levy Restaurants, Senior Sales Manager

Autographs, anyone?

We recently remodeled our multi-purpose room, AKA the "green room" backstage. We added color to the walls and hung an incredible array of artist performance photos at Ravinia over the years. While planning the redo, we thought to ourselves, what would be a cool way to preserve some history and show off the fact that we have so many different artists in a given season, as well as, over the years? Answer: an artist autograph wall. So that's what we did! We've created an entire wall just waiting for history to be made by artists from Sting to James Conlon.

Country superstar Vince Gill was the very first artist to sign the wall. I can't wait to see what it looks like when we wrap the summer season in September. 


Amy Schrage
Associate Director of Communications

Backstage with the T-Shirt Gun

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be loading up a gun as part of my job. Boy did that all change this summer when Ravinia got a new air gun to shoot out free t-shirts into the pavilion. Guess who gets to shoot it. Me! Me! Now when I tell people that I wear a lot of different hats at work, they will understand that I really mean it.  This hat comes with sequins, flashing lights and an awesome tank of power.

I had no idea what the heck I was doing at first. I was just concentrating on steering clear of any lights or equipment above the crowd. That sounds a lot easier than it really is. Each time it gets a little more comfortable. I'm even starting to have fun! It's easy to get into it when you have a crowd full of screaming people and this incredible energy. The music is playing, the people are waving and yelling and the shirts are flying. It's a total blast! (Pun intended.)

You can catch a t-shirt at select concerts in the pavilion. Be sure you wave your hands so I can see you and it never hurts to do a dance for a t-shirt.

Adriana McClintock
Marketing Manager

Photo Blog: Lawn Memories

Ravinia fan Jennifer Melugin sent us this photo of her father-in-law and brother-in-law flagging down other members of their group in 2008 at the Tony Bennett concert. She said, "Between the cell phones and the umbrellas, they did a great job!  I love this pic! And Tony Bennett was amazing, of course!"

If you would like to submit your Ravinia memories, stories and photos, please send them to


Steans Institute Alum Yuja Wang Awarded Avery Fisher Career Grant

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts recently announced four recipients of the 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant including Ravinia Festival Steans Institute alum Yuja Wang. Other winners this year were David Aaron Carpenter, Kirill Gerstein and pianist Joyce Yang, who takes the Ravinia stage this summer on July 11 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. These coveted grants were first given in 1976 and only 118 artists have been awarded over the years including artists such as Carter Brey, James Ehnes, Edgar Meyer, Leila Josefowicz and Jeffrey Kahane.

Wang took part in our Steans Institute during the summer of 2004. This professional studies program  allows these young musicians to work with an internationally renowned faculty of artist/teachers as well as perform in Bennett Gordon Hall. If you haven't attended one of these free events, usually prior to Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts, you must go to at least one this summer, these musicians are incredible!

Congratulations, Yuja!


Amy Schrage
Associate Director of Communications

Photo Blog: REACH Orchestra Student Spotlight

REACH Orchestra bass student Brian Chavez rehearses during the bass sectional for an upcoming concert.  When asked about his favorite part of the program, he said “I just love to play the instrument”. 


Isaac Sinnett
Project Manager

The "Voices of Freedom" Ring Out

Click here to see a gallery of photos.

This afternoon, Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman was greeted with the powerful voices and heartfelt freedoms of Stowe Arts Academy on Wabansia in Chicago. At every turn the students had personal and creative performances to entertain and thank him in the best way they could — by singing, dancing and performing their hearts out. 

It was clear, from toddler to teens and on up to the parents involved at Stowe, that this school understands the positive energy that music can create. They have harnessed this energy and hold steadfast that the arts must hold its place in our educational system. That is why they chose Welz for their honorable "Voices of Freedom" Award.

Other notable recipients include  Mayor Richard M. Daley, Illinois Supreme Court Justices Anne Burke and Thomas Kilbride, Chicago Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey, and Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, for providing creative and educational outlets that empower students to build a better world. Welz has empowered more than 75,000 musically eager people through the Ravinia Festival REACH*TEACH*PLAY educational programs. 

If you also seek to enrich the lives of our youth by contributing to arts education programs, please don't hesitate get in touch with us. Together we can free new voices. As the Stowe Arts Academy students modo reminds us—Si, se puede! Yes, we can.


Russell Jenkins
Manager of Graphics and Photography 


It's Music To Our Ears


It's spring now in Chicago and just as the trees are budding and the tulips are popping up.  Ravinia too is slowly coming back to life.  One can hear the tuning up of lawn mowers and the workers whistling as they paint the Pavilion.  

To our well-trained and imaginative ears, it sounds like music.  It is a beautiful melody that floods our minds with thoughts of warm summer nights.  The kind of night were the music leaves the pavilion like a slow wave and doesn't stop till it engulfs and relaxes every patron on our lawn. 

Patrick Gipson


Look for Ravinia on Your Commute

Photo courtesy of Dahlstrom Display Inc. 

Here's a preview of our new CTA advertising. Russel Jenkins, Ravinia's manager of graphic arts and photography, did a great job on the artwork. Next week you'll see much more!

Don't forget that online ticket sales begin on April 22 exclusively on our website.

Adriana McClintock
Marketing Manager

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