Seven Highlights from the 2015 Summer Season

By Cameron Munson


As an intern at Ravinia this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ravinia is much more than just concerts. In reality, Ravinia is about the experience, the tight community culture, and all the small things we do here that may (or may not!) go unnoticed by concertgoers but help make it an exciting place to be a part of.

As the 2015 season comes to a close and nostalgia starts to set in, I wanted to relive some of those moments from this summer. Join me on a trip down memory lane with my seven favorite moments from the 2015 season.


7. The Haircut Challenge

Illustrating a lesson in putting your money where your mouth is, the Ravinia team was brainstorming ways to celebrate the upcoming season when one of our staff members, Pedro, jokingly mentioned that he would shave the Ravinia logo into the side of his head. The team mobilized and filmed the adventure. Within minutes of posting the video of Pedro’s new haircut, Ravinia regular Donna challenged Ravinia back saying she would do the same for tickets. A few days later Donna walked out of The Barbers in downtown Highland Park with a fresh Ravinia ‘do and a pair of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga tickets!



6. The New Kids’ Harp

Ravinia has always been a great place to bring the whole family with the many kids’ concerts each season and fun of the KidsLawn. This year brought a new addition to the sculptural, playable instruments at KidsLawn: a beautiful large-scale harp created by artist Steven Pierce and composer Lisa Renée Coons. The new harp is another fun way parents can get their kids involved in music in an engaging way.



5. Welz’s Costumes on the Ravinia Minute

I love to see Ravinia CEO Welz Kauffman having fun with his job and not taking himself too seriously. That’s why one of my favorite things about this season were his amazing costumes on WGN TV to promote the movie nights with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra like “Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton” and Star Trek. I don’t know about you, but I thought he looked pretty sharp as Edward Scissorhands, and his Spock impersonation was out of this world!



4. Ravinia’s First Ever Flash Mob

Before the CSO’s “Play It Again, Marvin!” celebration of Hamlisch’s music, 150 professional dancers from Joel Hall Dance Company acting as patrons on the lawn sprang up to surprise and delight the audience with a number from A Chorus Line. Also just as cool was the aerial shots from the drone we used to film the whole thing!



3. #FromTheLawn

We started the #FromTheLawn campaign this season to interact with our patrons and convey the unique Ravinia experience on the lawn. At a select number of concerts, we photographed everyone from concertgoers to Ravinia CEO Welz Kauffman to Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, and even a wedding proposal, with our fun #FromTheLawn Polaroid cutout. We also interviewed them and posted our favorites to the #FromTheLawn page right here on the Backstage blog. The campaign was a big hit and gave patrons a chance to tell us why they love Ravinia, making it one of my highlights from the season.



2. Ramsey’s Big Summer

This certainly was Ramsey Lewis’s summer. From his anti-bullying PSA with Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering to performing his first classical concerto with the CSO, Ramsey was everywhere. On one of the hottest days this summer, Ramsey Lewis played a free concert as part of the Daley Plaza’s “Under The Picasso” series. I love Ramsey’s ability to bring people together with his music, which drew in a crowd of all ages. Some even got up to dance in the sweltering heat! Another favorite Ramsey moment was President Obama himself wishing Ramsey a happy 80th birthday in a video that we projected on the Pavilion screens before his performance with the CSO.



1. James Conlon’s Grand Finale

With an amazing performance of The Flying Dutchman by the CSO, James Conlon conducted his last concert as music director of the orchestra’s summer residency. His performance, like all of his concerts with Ravinia, was truly a sight to see, and though he will missed dearly, I am sure he is going on to great things.