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
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.
If you couldn’t be there in person, which is always Plan A, by now you have heard about the night of July 23, 2016 at Ravinia. And if I have my say, you will hear about it again. James Levine returned to Ravinia for the first time since 1993. And the gods seemed to herald his triumph with the thunder and lightning of a torrential storm for the record books. But you didn’t need a Doppler to detect that something historic was going down in Highland Park.
Carlos Santana once told Welz Kauffman that he’d never play Ravinia. Nothing personal, he said, just that “my audience won’t come.”
The year was 2000, and Kauffman had just taken the reins at the legendary Highland Park music festival with a vision to build on the historic venue’s proud legacy of presenting a wide variety of great concerts.
“From the beginning Ravinia presented a mix of classical concerts and the cutting-edge acts of the time, whether it was Benny Goodman introducing a mixed-race band in the 1940s to Janis Joplin and Frank Zappa in the 1970s,” Kauffman said. “But as the classical programming continued to feature the brightest talents in the world, for about 30 years, we lost our way a bit on the nonclassical side, allowing it to get pretty dusty.”
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 the concert-goers, 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 7 favorite moments from the 2015 season.
Every Monday morning, Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman boldly goes to the WGN TV studios for the on-air “Ravinia Minute” with announcer Mike Toomey. He previews the events Ravinia offers in the coming week. This week, his delivery was "Spock on” as he got into character to discus the Aug. 16 presentation of J.J. Abrams’s 2009 Star Trek, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing the score live. See what it takes for an Earthbound CEO to beam up to the Enterprise.
Perhaps the question I’m asked most frequently is, how far in advance does Ravinia book its artists? This one came up twice this week; oddly enough, on the Ravinia grounds. The answer is...
So I am always happy to tackle the question posed to me this week at Back Yard Grill: Why does Ravinia even have a gala?
In this column I like to address real questions about Ravinia Festival posed to me by fellow Highland Parkers who I bump into at various locations around town. It seems a lot of these questions have been building up over the winter, so now that summer is here (or as Ravinia says, “summer is hear”), here are the top 10 questions so far:
Every Monday, Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman appears with announcer Mike Toomey on WGN’s “Ravinia Minute” segment which airs in the 9 a.m. hour every Monday on WGN-TV. Each week Welz highlights upcoming events at the festival and presents them in very creative fashion. Today, he took a stab at something new, costuming up as