Ravinia Celebrates Pride

June is Pride Month, and Ravinia is celebrating all summer long with a diverse lineup of both LGBT stars and allies. Tonight, catch YouTube stars Well-Strung performing universally recognized classical pieces while singing pop music hits from the likes of Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, and other stars for a uniquely engaging experience. Learn more about the “singing string quartet” in an interview with Ravinia Magazine here.

On Sunday, you can go back to “seventeen” and experience the legendary Janis Ian. Additional LGBT artists with upcoming performances include Alan CummingMichael Feinstein, and Boy George. Our Bernstein Centennial celebration will highlight the career of America’s most famous (gay) composer, and we will host the Chicago premiere of Considering Matthew Shepard, a piece that explores the life and death of the gay martyr to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy that spawned the Hate Crimes Act.

Well Strung: A Quartet with Entendres of Inspiration

This band’s brand is something unique, indeed. A zip through their albums and YouTube videos reveals an astonishing level of stylistic eclecticism and virtuosity, from fresh-spirited traversals of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to envelope-pushing fusions of Grieg’s First String Quartet with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and the down-home vocals of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” merged with bits of Bach. Listen to that last one and try to keep your feet still. “We don’t stick to any one genre,” Bagnell explains, “We pull from both a wide breadth of pop and a wide breadth of classical. We respond to music we like. Good music is good music, and if something speaks to our instrumentation and voices, we go for it.”

The ensemble’s artistic soul is probably best displayed in the pop–classical mashups they have amusingly dubbed “popssicals.” “Our first popssical was Kelly Clarkson mashed with Eine kleine Nachtmusik. They had a similar energy,” Bagnell remembers. “We have another with Taylor Swift and Aaron Copland. There was such joy in the Copland piece and fun in the Taylor Swift.” Sometimes their choices juxtapose in unexpected ways, as in a marvelous amalgam of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria with Radiohead’s “Creep.” “We look for thematic elements, like this deeply religious music mashed up with ‘Creep,’ where a guy speaks about an unattainable woman with this almost obsessive, worshiping quality. They just kind of spoke to each other.”

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