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.”
Students of Sistema Ravinia were in the presence of greatness on Wednesday as Gustavo Dudamel, who had his musical beginnings in El Sistema in Venezuela and inspired a character on Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, watched their performance. Maestro Dudamel then hopped onstage to conduct the young musicians and impart some wisdom for their artistic journey ahead.
When Leonard Bernstein’s Mass was christened at the much-anticipated 1971 opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the 1¾-hour work faced a negative onslaught from critics. Typical were Harold Schonberg’s dismissive comments in the New York Times: “It is a pseudo-serious effort at rethinking the Mass that basically is, I think, cheap and vulgar. It is a show-biz Mass, the work of a musician who desperately wants to be with it.”
But in the nearly five decades since the piece’s premiere, the classical music world has become much more accustomed to the kind of stylistic cross-pollination that runs through Mass, and views have significantly changed about Bernstein the composer. Since his death in 1990, many of his works that had been downplayed or set aside have found renewed attention and respect. Indeed, virtually everything he wrote is being heard this year among hundreds (if not thousands) of concerts worldwide celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth.
The Republic of Macedonia is among the smaller nations of Europe, so it’s not surprising that few of its musicians have reached the highest ranks in the classical music firmament. Described by The Guardian as “wondrously talented,” pianist Simon Trpčeski is the most notable exception, and Chicago audiences have been fortunate to hear his consummate artistry many times over the past decade.
In 2008, the pianist made his made his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut in Orchestra Hall with conductor Ludovic Morlot performing the Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1, an event he recalls with great fondness. “The CSO is one of the top orchestras in the world, and its clear, transparent, and powerful sound is a motivation for every artist. We played four concerts, and it was amazing to constantly experience the high professionalism of the musicians as well as the wonderful reaction of the audience.”
The theme to Raiders ranks as one of Williams’s most iconic works. Spielberg credits its success to the composer’s sense of timing and restraint. “He sparingly uses it,” Spielberg elaborated. “When he uses it, it allows us to root for the hero. When he doesn’t use it, we are worried about our hero. He’s so wise as to when to release the main theme.”
When creating his movie music magic, Williams eschews computers. He uses pencils, paper, and a piano. Sometimes, Spielberg quietly pays a visit to the composer and hints for a status report. “If I feel like I’ve got something for him, I’ll play a few notes,” Williams said. “I can always tell by his eyes, his facial expression, his voice, if he’s unsure, if he dislikes it, or likes it. The great thing is that he always leaves happy.”
Christine Taylor Conda, Director of the Reach*Teach*Play music education programs at Ravinia, has been named Chair of the El Sistema USA board of directors for a one-year term. The mission of El Sistema USA is to support and grow a nationwide movement of programs inspired by El Sistema—the immersive music education process originally developed in Venezuela that puts instruments into the hands of children to begin playing in orchestras immediately—to effect social change through music for children with the fewest resources and the greatest need. Taylor Conda has been a member of El Sistema USA’s board for two years.
Ravinia President & CEO Welz Kauffman dropped by the NBC5 Chicago studios to discuss with Kye Martin the importance of the festival’s Reach*Teach*Play education programs to the development of young students. Over 85,000 community members are served through Ravinia’s RTP Programs each year, ensuring that music education remains accessible to all. The programs are designed to educate, foster diverse audience involvement, and provide the population with equitable access to live music experiences in their communities and at Ravinia.
One of the immortal composers of classical music, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, will join the ranks of such LGBT icons as Alan Turing and Sylvia Rivera with a biographical memorial in Chicago’s award-winning outdoor LGBT History Museum “The Legacy Walk.” Sponsored by Ravinia Festival, Ravinia Board Chairman Jennifer Steans, Illinois State Senator Heather Steans (7th District Democrat), and Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman and husband Jon Teeuwissen, the Tchaikovsky exhibit will be unveiled at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, on the Legacy Walk, which spans 3245–3705 Halsted St., Chicago. Award-winning jazz pianist-composer-accordionist Ben Rosenblum will give a street performance at the dedication and will make his Ravinia debut later that night. A “Dedication Celebration” will follow the installation at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., Chicago.