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
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Soprano Nadine Sierra (a 2012 RSMI alum) was featured in the May edition of Vogue alongside other young divas of the Metropolitan Opera. “Her voice is soaring out into the black cave of the theater, filling every inch of it with beauty and heartache, when James Levine, the legendary conductor, stops the orchestra […] and asks his soprano to do it again.
July 25, 1936: George Gershwin's Sole Ravinia Performance
After the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took residence at Ravinia on July 3, 1936, perhaps the next great highlight of that summer came just a few weeks later. Thousands descended upon the freshly reinaugurated festival in hopes of seeing—but most certainly for the chance to hear—the inimitable pianist, composer, and songwriter George Gershwin.
Jorge Federico Osorio is a classical artist with an international career. Born in Mexico, he could make his home anywhere. Yet after living in New York City for seven years, followed by London for another 11, he chose Highland Park, IL, to be the place where he and his wife, Sylvana, put down their roots and raised their two sons, Dario and Santiago.
Legendary trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis has worn many musical hats across his remarkable career. Thus, the idea that Ravinia would co-commission a concerto from a guy who studied at Juilliard and performed Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto with his hometown New Orleans Philharmonic when he was a mere 14 years old is not so strange.
July 3, 1936: The CSO Residency Kicks Off
In 1936 Ravinia and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra began an enthusiastic partnership in presenting history’s greatest music in a uniquely lush and comfortable setting, and 80 years later that dedication is as strong as ever, forming the cornerstone of the festival’s classical mission, which also encompasses chamber music, recitals, kids concerts, Reach*Teach*Play, and Ravinia’s Stean’s Music Institute. Even before the relationship became official the CSO was a regular guest, dating back to 1905 as the Theodore Thomas Orchestra. Over the 17 concerts that compose its residency at Ravinia this summer, the CSO will play works that are just as powerful today as they were during that first season—from Beethoven’s Seventh, Brahms’s Second and Fourth, and Dvořák’s “New World” Symphonies to such orchestral delights as Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Strauss’s Don Juan to the playful swirl of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
Sometimes the power of a film can sneak up on you and catch you by surprise. That was the experience I had when I saw James Cameron’s film Titanic—for the third time.
By John Schauer
A long time ago, when I was working as a journalist in California, I came to Ravinia to do a feature interview with James Levine, who was Ravinia’s music director at that time, and in the course of the interview he said something that still haunts me today, as if somehow he sensed what would happen as a result of “social media”—which of course did not yet exist at that time.
The traditions of jazz and classical music have enjoyed parallel histories but relatively few intersections. Yet players from Benny Goodman to Wynton Marsalis have famously commuted between the two realms, and composers from George Gershwin to Duke Ellington to Leonard Bernstein have negotiated areas of artistic agreement that have linked certain of their traditions in often exciting ways, creating the bedrock of symphonic jazz.
I would like someday to give a lecture or write an article making a case for disliking classical music—at least some of it. I fear that people new to classical music may hear something they really detest and, not knowing the infinite variety of classical music, incorrectly conclude that they don’t like any classical music at all. But just about everyone, no matter how knowledgeable or devoted to music, must admit that there are portions of the repertoire they don’t enjoy.
In my case, there are numerous swaths of the classical repertoire that simply don’t appeal to me. Most pertinent at present, I don’t like Wagner.
So on ghastly summer days with 99-degree heat and 99 percent humidity, that's where I went in my imagination. Lying on my bed, I would put Scheherazade on the phonograph while nibbling grapes and sipping lemonade, as if I were the Persian ruler to whom the stories were being told. It didn't dispel the heat, of course, but somehow, in that setting, the climate seemed more natural and bearable--at least for as long as the music lasted.
Ravinia Festival has named renowned pianist, music administrator and educator Kevin Murphy director of the festival’s summer music conservatory, the Steans Music Institute. He replaces Brian Zeger, who steps down in August after six years in the position. Murphy’s duties will include selecting 15 singers and five pianists from a worldwide pool of applicants to participate in the program each summer as well as securing faculty who will work with these artists over an intensive three-week residency. In consultation with the faculty, he will program four concerts of art song and three master classes each summer.
Murphy has been director of music administration at New York City Opera since September of 2008. Before that time, he was director of musical studies at the National Opera of Paris. In 1992 he was the first pianist invited by Maestro James Levine (former Ravinia music director) to participate in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and continued as an assistant conductor from 1993 through June 2006. In addition to his on- and off-stage partnership with his wife, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, he has collaborated in concert and recital with many of today’s leading artists, including Steans Music Institute alumna Michelle DeYoung, Nathan Gunn, Bryn Terfel, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming and others. Additional credits include performances of Mozart operas with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia.
“I can think of no better fit for Ravinia and the Steans Music Institute than Kevin, a truly respected and talented pedagogue who will spark and inspire the young professional musicians who will study with him,” said Ravinia Festival Music Director James Conlon. “Kevin is a friend, and I look forward to having him as a festival colleague.”