Fulfilling a 25-year dream of becoming the cultural cornerstone and social forum for the entire community of Austin on Chicago’s West Side, Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School will unveil both its new Kehrein Center for the Arts and the Sistema Ravinia Auditorium on Wednesday, May 22. “This unique music and fine arts space presents a critical area to engage our children in the field of the arts as well as continue to emphasize values of reverence and respect,” said Illinois Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, a member of the Education Committee.Read More
Jazz pianist and composer Dan Tepfer is releasing his album Natural Machines tomorrow, May 17, with a twist. On this album, Tepfer plays a unique digital player piano called the Disklavier, which takes the music he plays on the piano, runs it through a computer program he wrote, and plays it back over the instrument.Read More
These days, “Your Mama’s Talkin’,” a song from Chicago-based blues scion Shemekia Copeland’s 1998 debut album, Turnin’ Up the Heat, has taken on a whole new meaning. Copeland became a parent in 2016, and when she isn’t wrangling her “little man,” she says she’s thinking about “the type of world I brought him into, and my concerns for him and what he will have to face.”Read More
Melissa White and Elena Urioste got through the beginnings of their professional violin careers without thinking much about their bodies. If they had performance-related pain, they ignored it as long as they could.
Then, in 2009, they separately found yoga.Read More
For the 69-year-old Australian-born Richard Lewis Springthorpe (his real name), the Grammy Award–winning song would be life-changing. At the same time, however, Springfield was still an unproven entity; prior album releases did well, but radio play and massive sales were not yet happening for him in the age of MTV. So, the singer-songwriter took a role as the uber-handsome and dashing Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime soap opera General Hospital—just to ensure he got a steady paycheck, he says.
And then it happened.Read More
More than 50 years ago, Prine returned home from an Army stint in Germany and began work as a US postal carrier. Daily and dutifully walking the unapologetic, diversely populated, middle-class streets of his west-suburban Chicago hometown, he mentally molded melodies and lyrics in his head to break the monotony of his Maywood, IL, mail route.Read More
It was 2015, and Rob Thomas was scared to death.
His wife, Marisol Maldonado, was waiting for her phone to ring, waiting to hear what the doctor had to say about the tunnel vision she had been experiencing, waiting to find out if the lesion that the MRI had found at the base bone of her brain was something that would change their lives forevermore.
And there they were, one of music’s biggest music hit makers and one of the world’s most beautiful models sitting in a dreary parking lot in Chicago, waiting to learn their collective fate.Read More
As a lifelong Highland Parker, one of the things I cherish about Ravinia is that it is one of a handful of childhood icons still in operation. Woolworth’s, Garnett’s department store, Stash’s, Fell Company, Grant & Grant record store, Big Z Burgers, Chandler’s; all gone. But Ravinia is still making indelible musical memories.Read More
Ravinia will be announcing its 2019 season on March 14, with public ticket sales opening across May 7 and 8. Get more information about purchasing your 2019 Ravinia tickets here.Read More
From classical masters to rock legends, there will be plenty to satisfy music lovers of all backgrounds, tastes, and experiences at Ravinia in 2019. As contributors know, there is no better way to enjoy Ravinia than as a donor, and now is the perfect time to renew your gift. In appreciation of this support, donors receive highly sought-after benefits—depending on donation level—that could include priority onsite parking just steps from the Pavilion, season gate passes, the opportunity to purchase tickets before the public, and early entry on concert nights.Read More
The City of Highland Park will add a new twist to its annual “Martin Luther King Day of Service,” starting at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 21. Ravinia staff will be present at the event to collect used music instruments that will be cleaned and refurbished for distribution to current music students who cannot afford new instruments.Read More
Ringo Starr returns to Ravinia for the first time in 24 years on a double bill with perennial Ravinia favorite The Beach Boys for two concerts, Aug. 3 and Aug. 4. The global tour, with confirmed stops in America and Japan, commemorates the 30th anniversary of the first tour of Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band in 1989.Read More
The Chicago Tribune has named Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman its Chicagoan of the Year for Classical Music for leading the way in celebrating the centennial of Leonard Bernstein. In the article, Chicago Tribune Music Critic Howard Reich said, “For anyone who values Leonard Bernstein’s towering musical achievements, Ravinia Festival was ground zero this summer. … No one did more to make all of this come together than Welz Kauffman.”Read More
With the 2018 season mostly memories at this point, Ravinia’s photographers, who documented events all summer, have selected their favorite images of 2018 and explain why they picked their favorites, including performance shots, audiences enjoying themselves, and more than a few surprises.
Several weeks ago, I was getting some work done while on a flight from Orlando back to Chicago. Part of my agenda was to digest the libretto of Craig Hella Johnson’s poignant oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard. I already owned the Grammy-nominated recording on Harmonia Mundi and had been profoundly moved by it, but this was the first time I had actually read the entire text itself. I was, quite frankly, undone. The plane vanished from my cognizance, along with the din from the overwrought Disney vacation families that dotted the cabin. I sat there with tears streaming down my face. I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up to see a startled flight attendant named Tammy. Her eyes softened as she said, “Here’s your Diet Coke, hon.”
“John was looking for a texture for The Gospel According to the Other Mary,” explains Sellars, “and he was going through medieval music and Renaissance music kind of like Igor Stravinsky, looking for music where there’s a very detailed and elaborate harmonic language. John came across Lasso and became so excited. He told both Grant and me to look at Orlando de Lasso.”Read More
Mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, who will be the soloist in Leonard Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony at Ravinia on Sunday, August 19, “discovered” her exceptional voice when, in her senior year, she auditioned for the high school choir near her home in Lakewood, WA. When the choir director heard her, Bridges was immediately urged to begin studying professionally.
“My family enjoyed music, all kinds,” Bridges explained during a telephone interview with Ravinia Magazine in late June. “My Dad has a beautiful voice, and he sang with the Sons of Thunder choir at the Allen A.M.E. Church in Tacoma. I began taking piano lessons when I was 5, but no one [in the family] was a professional.” The new adventure of voice lessons became a revelation. “I just loved singing so much,” she said. Even though Bridges was captain of her high school basketball team and had college sports scholarships on the horizon, she audaciously auditioned at top American conservatories and music schools.
There was a stunning moment in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Celebrating 100 Years of Bernstein” gala this season. Kate Baldwin, on a brief hiatus from her Tony Award–nominated run in Broadway’s revival of Hello Dolly!, took the stage and delivered an ineffably moving rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s Vietnam-era protest song “So Pretty.” This affecting piece, with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, was first heard in 1968 at the Broadway for Peace fundraiser co-hosted by Bernstein and Paul Newman. It was performed then by Barbra Streisand with the composer himself at the piano. The song tells of a land far away with golden temples and pretty people with shining hair—who we are told “must die for peace.” The text concludes with “But they’re so pretty, so pretty. / I don’t understand.”
In the summer of 2016, I was surprised by a phone call from Rod Caspers, a dear friend from our days together at the University of Texas–Austin Drama Department. He asked if I would be interested in directing a new choral musical work, an oratorio, Considering Matthew Shepard, slated for broadcast on PBS and a subsequent live tour. Rod knew I’d been producing and directing large-scale symphony concerts and other stage works around the country for almost 15 years, and he thought I might be right for this assignment. I accepted on the spot, grateful to be invited to play a role in keeping Matthew’s story alive. His haunting life story had previously been told on stage and screen in The Laramie Project, but as I came to discover, for many, Matthew’s story had started to fade into history.
What Foster is doing is creating his first Broadway musical, a show based on the 1930s’ wide-eyed, Jazz Age flapper animated cartoon character Betty Boop. A creative team of Broadway A-listers has signed on for the project, including director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, whose work includes the recently premiered Pretty Woman: The Musical, the Gloria Estefan bio-musical On Your Feet, and Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s critically acclaimed Kinky Boots (all three of which had their pre-Broadway tryouts in Chicago). Veteran television scribe Sally Robinson is writing the book, and Foster’s score will boast lyrics by Tony Award nominee Susan Birkenhead.
“It’s my first try at Broadway,” Foster says of the musical, whose subject matter demanded a very original story. “There never was a story because [Betty Boop] is a two-minute-at-a-time cartoon. I knew I wanted to make a step toward Broadway and musicals, and honestly Betty Boop was the first person to ask me. [Laughs.] So we had to create the story. It’s currently waiting for the script’s final punch-up. And then hopefully we’ll jump into a reading and then a workshop.”