2014 Ravinia Selects - Russell

After a deep breath we plunge—spiraling into each day of our lives with as much fortitude and focus as we can muster. Many times we loose our way and have to reset ourselves, begin again with fresh eyes and mind. For the last 9 years, I have dedicated my Ravinia career to helping millions find that escape and rejuvenation in their lives—as music can heal all. 

Often times, one thinks of a sticky floored theatre with egregious beer prices and bad sound to be an agreeable concert experience. I, on the other hand, am spoiled with the offerings of our famous lawn and any beverage I choose to bring in. This place is so much more—Ravinia changes you.

The first of my three image choices from this summer is a whimsical one. Richard Hunt, a Ravinia Life Trustee, world-famous artist and, more important, a man whom I call my friend, is pictured here interacting with a sculpture. And it’s not just any sculpture—it’s a Jaume Plensa, titled Silent Music. Plensa is an artistic visionary from Barcelona that is best known in this area for his “spitting fountains’ in Millennium Park. And while history and fame is interesting, the true value of this image is in its message: “Art can always move us.” While laying on my back in the gravel beneaththe sculpture, I gazed up and caught Richard, even with all his grey hairs, looking like a child again. He experienced a sense of delight, a sense of wonder. He was moved in a new way. If you would be so moved, visit the Plensa on the north lawn.

My second image captured the moments after two of my close friends got engaged. That night a cool mist hung over the oddly auspicious evening, and picnickers took a cuddling approach to the brisk air and light breeze. As an observer it’s an amazing scene to see so many people on the lawn with uniquely intimate experiences. For these two the evening was different. It marked one of the greatest moments in their lives—a decision to chose each other for life. And while the weak light caused grain in the photo, and the lens fogged the picture like the weather, nothing can hold back the inspiring power of true love and bliss. The atmosphere at Ravinia cultivates moments like these that can last a lifetime.

Lastly, I chose a quiet shot of the Pavilion from the perspective of the performers. Countless legends have graced this stage and looked out over a sea of energy—each seat as unique as its ticket holder. I chose this because many of us are accustomed to seeing it filled with an audience and teeming with life. I feel this picture speaks to dedication and commitment—as it is only empty for a brief while—and a space that otherwise works hard to fulfill the dreams of our audiences and our mission to sustain and preserve the most universal language in the world. This capture of silence is strikingly rare, and I prefer we keep it that way.