America’s most important music figure was many things to many people: conductor, composer, pianist, educator, author, television personality, activist, international bon vivant. But if you asked Leonard Bernstein how he self-identified, he thought of himself as a composer.Read More
His public statement about living with HIV was particularly bold, given that Hersch talked openly about the virus during a time when contracting it was practically a death sentence. “A lot of people said, ‘Fred, you shouldn’t do this. It’ll kill your career. Nobody will want to book you. They’ll figure you’ll be dead by next year.’ Which was possible,” he recalls. “But as time went on, I’ve beaten all kinds of odds in terms of my health. My career is bigger and better than ever.Read More
The floodtide of events with which Ravinia celebrated Bernstein’s 100th birthday in 2018 was only the beginning. The grand celebration continues for a second festival summer with nearly a dozen Bernstein-themed programs curated by the American conductor Marin Alsop, Bernstein’s final (and only female) protégé and one of the world’s most prominent champions of his music.Read More
Fleetwood Mac’s seminal album remains rock’s ultimate vinyl soap opera. With more pillow talk, twists, turns, and trysts than Luke and Laura of General Hospital fame could ever have imagined, Rumours is more a “love pentagon” than triangle. During the album’s laborious, drug-infused writing and recording, the band’s five members all were breaking up, sleeping around, sleeping with each other, not speaking to one another, and, basically, going their own way.Read More
Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey—two-thirds of the iconic folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, return to Ravinia on Sun. June 16. The trio first appeared at Ravinia in 1963. This year marks Yarrow and Stookey’s 24th Ravinia appearance and the first since 2006. Mary Travers died three years later.Read More
During an action-packed jazz schedule in Bennett Gordon Hall this year, beginning with the Second Annual Bridges concert, Michael Orenstein’s winning composition, Staircase premiered to an enthusiastic crowd. The concert featured an ensemble of RSMI alumni performing Orenstein’s piece, and the three winning composers from the inaugural competition last year returned for encore performances of their winning works.Read More
George Stelluto, music director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, makes his summer home at Ravinia, where he serves as assistant conductor, understudying the repertoire to be performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and ready to leap to the podium at a moment’s notice should an emergency arise.Read More
There is no doubt that the statistics surrounding Sugarland are quite impressive. Since the band’s inception in 2002, Sugarland has sold over 10 million albums domestically and have earned seven number-one singles to date, including “All I Want to Do,” “It Happens,” and the tear-inducing “Already Gone.” On top of all that, their music has accumulated well more than a quarter-billion streams, making them one of the most popular country music duos of all time.Read More
As ready and willing as Duritz is to come to Ravinia, he’s completely uncertain of what attendees should expect from the setlist outside of knowing the full catalogue is on the table with the “25 Years and Counting” aspect. “The set changes every night anyway, especially this summer because we’re not touring much,” he confirms. “I don’t know that there’s anything that I feel like we have to play. We tend to play ‘Long December’ most of the time. That’s never been boring to us, so that’s one we tend to play every night no matter what.Read More
Like millions of others listening to the radio in the mid-’60s, Melissa Etheridge remembers when she first heard The Beatles. But she wasn’t a lovestruck adolescent dreaming about dating John, Paul, George, or Ringo; she was a toddler experiencing an epiphany.Read More
In recent years, the Decades cable channel has been showing highlights from the legendary Ed Sullivan Show, and I’ve been struck by how many of Tony Bennett’s performances have been selected for this “best of” series. Seeing him over multiple decades, I was impressed by the richness of his voice, his subtlety of phrasing, the playful virility he projects, the robust energy that propels each song, his versatility—there’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Tony Bennett is, in every respect, a better singer than Frank Sinatra ever was. There, I said it.Read More
Since Elizabeth’s time, composers have found diverse ways to finance their careers, and a consideration of some of the composers whose music will be performed at Ravinia this summer shows how cleverly their solutions evolved over the years.Read More
More than a century after his birth, Leonard Bernstein remains a pop culture phenomenon. Hot off the success of A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper will direct and star in a biopic about multi-hyphenate who many consider the most important musician in American history. At the same time, America’s most successful filmmaker is remaking the treasured 1962 Best Picture Oscar winner West Side Story. Someone with Spielberg’s track record of blockbusters is in a position to pick only the best.Read More
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