Ravinia Magazine

The Management Regrets... but is sometimes witness to history in the making

It happens all the time. A famous, beloved artist falls ill (or, as is sometimes the unpleasant case, gets what may be regarded as a better offer). It even happens at Ravinia. A famous, beloved artist cancels, and management scrambles for an appropriate replacement.

Some cases become memorable, star-making events. Other cases are quickly, even mercifully, forgotten.

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Rewind: July 25, 1936


July 25, 1936: George Gershwin's Sole Ravinia Performance

After the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took residence at Ravinia on July 3, 1936, perhaps the next great highlight of that summer came just a few weeks later. Thousands descended upon the freshly reinaugurated festival in hopes of seeing—but most certainly for the chance to hear—the inimitable pianist, composer, and songwriter George Gershwin.

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On the Fly: Jorge Federico Osorio Made Highland Park the Home of His International Career

Jorge Federico Osorio is a classical artist with an international career. Born in Mexico, he could make his home anywhere. Yet after living in New York City for seven years, followed by London for another 11, he chose Highland Park, IL, to be the place where he and his wife, Sylvana, put down their roots and raised their two sons, Dario and Santiago.

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Something In The Way He Blues: Buddy Guy Keeps Chicago's Blues Electrifying

The first time Buddy Guy came to Ravinia, it was as an audience member to see George Benson. “I got there and they looked at me and said, ‘Buddy, we’ve been trying to get you for years!’” Guy recalled in a recent exchange for Ravinia magazine.

In 1999, the festival got him. “It took me a long time to get to a venue like that,” Guy reflected. “I’d play with Junior [Wells] in the early days at Navy Pier, or over by the lake with Stevie [Ray Vaughan], and I imagined those were the biggest places I’d ever play. But they finally got me and I’ve done quite a few shows there since then. I love playing Ravinia, man.”

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Nothing But 'Net: Anthony McGill is Soaring on the (Wood)wind

When clarinetist Anthony McGill visits Ravinia on July 15 to perform the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Takács String Quartet, the occasion will be the latest of numerous homecomings the Chicago native has enjoyed since he left the nest for the Interlochen Music Academy and the Curtis Institute of Music many years ago. Originally from the Chatham neighborhood on the city’s South Side, McGill and his unlikely rise to the summit of the clarinet world was fueled by a supreme talent, supportive family, several key local mentors, and an unflagging determination.

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Learning to Fly: Janni Younge Makes a New "Firebird" With No Strings Attached

Janni Younge believes passionately in the power of puppetry. Although the centuries-old art form might seem passé in a world where video games and other online diversions are available in seconds, she believes it is even more needed than ever as a tangible antidote to such high-tech escapism. “People are relating to a very ancient instinct,” says the South African puppetmaker, “which is to enjoy the animation of an inanimate object. Particularly in contemporary puppetry, where you see the performers creating life in a thing that is clearly not alive, there is a kind of electricity that happens. We relate to it on a very primal level.”

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Fiddling Around: Wynton Marsalis Trumpets Human Connections in His Violin Concerto for Nicola Benedetti

Legendary trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis has worn many musical hats across his remarkable career. Thus, the idea that Ravinia would co-commission a concerto from a guy who studied at Juilliard and performed Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto with his hometown New Orleans Philharmonic when he was a mere 14 years old is not so strange.

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Staying Hungry: Duran Duran Hasn't Stuttered with the Release of Paper Gods

The soundtrack of the early 1980s simply oozed Duran Duran. Their extraordinary run of singles—“Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Rio,” “Save a Prayer,” “The Reflex,” “The Wild Boys,” “Girls on Film”—earned Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, and Andy Taylor the moniker “The Fab Five” among pop music’s second British Invasion. Their music videos proved almost too risqué even for MTV, at a time when the cable music video channel was the “social media” pinnacle for recording artists. To paraphrase that old song: If you could make it there, you could make it anywhere. And make it they did.

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Standing Up: Like Their Sound, Guster Hopes to Keep the World Evergreen

It may be a truism that leaving home for college is a life-changing experience, but how many people can say they met both lifelong friends and career-defining collaborators on the first day?

That’s how Adam Gardner tells the story. It’s true enough; a nice, easy shorthand version. When pressed, however, he reveals that he actually met bandmates and buddies Ryan Miller and Brian Rosenworcel shortly before that, at a wilderness orientation for freshman at Tufts University (just outside of Boston) in 1991. The trio soon learned they shared a passion, and that’s the origin of the band known as Guster—a group still going strong a quarter-century later.

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Alon Goldstein Delights In A Small-Ensemble Look at Mozart Concertos

Alon Goldstein


“It is no revelation,” Goldstein reminds us, “to say that these Mozart concertos are miniature operas. So in the concert we are telling a dramatic story about an infinite array of characters; we are going to have the maid, we are to have the Count, we are going to have the gardener—all these characters coming to life. And it is nicer to speak to them close!”

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Frederica von Stade Cherishes New Challenges

Frederica von Stade has enjoyed a unique, lengthy, wide-ranging career that has brought her fame and, one hopes, fortune. She has always been a favorite with international aficionados who appreciate style, quality, sensitivity, and versatility. Even admirers who do not happen to know her personally flash her nickname, “Flicka.”

She is, of course, an extraordinary opera star, first and foremost. That occupation, however, has never been a full-time obsession.

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Ravinia's Bennett Gordon Hall Concerts Are Never Out of Season


And best of all, the series offers music lovers the chance to hear “an impressive lineup, by any standard,” (Chicago Tribune) of world-stage stars at a fraction of the ticket price commanded elsewhere.

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Jackson Browne Has Given His Music A Personal Touch for Over 40 Years


The list of renowned musicians with whom Browne has collaborated in some form could fill a whole page. His early brushes with Nico, Buckley, Frey, and Crosby were just the beginning; in the years to come, he toured with such icons as Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell, and he made music with everyone from Warren Zevon to Bonnie Raitt to Bruce Springsteen. So it’s hard not to wonder, from such an embarrassment of riches, do any of those collaborations stand out for him as favorites?

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Ramsey Lewis Joins A New "In" Crowd with His First Classical Concerto


The traditions of jazz and classical music have enjoyed parallel histories but relatively few intersections. Yet players from Benny Goodman to Wynton Marsalis have famously commuted between the two realms, and composers from George Gershwin to Duke Ellington to Leonard Bernstein have negotiated areas of artistic agreement that have linked certain of their traditions in often exciting ways, creating the bedrock of symphonic jazz.

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New Works Are The Passion of Five Ravinia Stars

But music is a living art. And no matter how glorious its past, in order to be fully alive, it must be constantly replenished by sounds that reflect the world as it is today, not as it was 300 or even 75 years ago. This season’s Ravinia schedule includes a range of artists who will be playing the music of the here and now as well as masters of the past.

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