Opinion

Music Was No Balm for L. Frank Baum

In 2005 and again in 2016, Ravinia audiences were treated to a screening of possibly the most beloved movie of all time, The Wizard of Oz, with the musical score performed live. But as old as that screen classic is—the film was released in 1939—it was not the earliest film adaptation of one of the 13 Oz novels that Lyman Frank Baum would eventually write. The earliest attempt was part of a project the author himself oversaw 31 years before Judy Garland sailed over the rainbow—and it was seen at Ravinia over a century ago.

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Blogger Reviews the Fine Dining Options at Ravinia

When you think of Ravinia in Highland Park, the first thing you probably think of is music. You may not, however, immediately think of food. But, you should. You really, really should. Ravinia Festival is the ideal Chicago-area dinner and show spot.

Chicago Foodie Sisters was recently invited to get a taste of what they have to offer at a food blogger dinner hosted for #Foodiechats at the Park View Restaurant on the grounds of Ravinia. It's one of several areas on the property where you can dine to enhance your evening. If you thought that a summer concert meant you were limited to overpriced nachos and hot dogs that you grab at a stand after waiting in an insanely long line, you couldn't be more wrong.

There are several dining options at Ravinia Festival that range from pre-ordered picnic boxes to quick, but quality take-away sandwiches and salads to leisurely indoor or al fresco dining of seafood, prime rib and more with wines from around the globe. It's the best place to enjoy live music if you're both a concertgoer and a foodie.

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Huckleberry Friends: Audrey, Henry and Me

I grabbed the ad and flew to the mezzanine level of the house, where technicians and grips were arranging lights and cables. When I approached one and asked, “Do you think I could get Miss Hepburn to autograph this for me?” the grip answered, “Why not ask her yourself? She’s right over there.” I hadn’t even noticed her diminutive figure sitting on the stairs studying her script, and although I didn’t want to cause any disruption in the production, I hurriedly went over and blurted out, “Miss Hepburn, I’m a huge fan of yours and have had this photo in my office for years. Would you please sign it ‘To John’?”

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Meryl Streep triumphs and nauseates as Florence Foster Jenkins!

As a classical musician, there is nothing I hate more than people ridiculing my art. When the only representations of opera singers in the media are fat, sweaty tenors and sopranos the size of battle cruisers, you tend to be pessimistic as to whether or not it is possible to portray a passion for classical music in a way that a modern audience would find inspiring.

In the most unorthodox way, Florence Foster Jenkins proves that classical music, though often seen as stuffy and alienating, stems from a burning adoration for the art of bringing music to life.

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A Keyboard by any Name Sounds as Sweet

closeup of piano keys

Because I was a still very young, I chafed at the appropriation of harpsichord music by pianists—especially since I was studying harpsichord—and it seemed rather obvious to me that one ought to perform music on the instrument for which it was composed. This was the bedrock assumption of the “original instrument” school of “authentic” performance practice, which was just beginning to go mainstream at the time and which today dominates the field of Baroque music performance. What I’ve learned since then, however, is that the whole subject is far more complex than it first seemed to me.

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A Hero Returns to Literally Thunderous Applause

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.

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Vintage Stereo Ads Claim To Recreate That Ravinia Sound

I was surprised when I encountered a 1957 ad for the “Ravinia” Webcor turntable with very little information about its connection to Ravinia. At first I thought maybe it was just a coincidence that it shared the name of America’s oldest music festival, but further digging uncovered another ad from 1954 that gets as close as possible to referencing the festival itself without explicitly doing so. It states, “… you have the unmistakable impression that a ‘live’ orchestra is performing in your presence. That’s why the experts call the Ravinia’s performance—‘living presence.’” Coincidence? I think not.

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Seven Highlights from the 2015 Summer Season



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.

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A Symphony of Silk

 

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.

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Symphonic Shocker

from http://intergalacticrobot.blogspot.com/2005/11/symphonie-fantastique.html

To today’s audiences, who have heard nearly two centuries of music after the Symphonie fantastique received its premiere in 1830, Berlioz’s music sounds safe, melodious, beautiful, and brilliantly constructed, but nowhere near as jaw-droppingly shocking as it did to its first audience.

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Animated Music

By Warner Brothers Pictures/Leon Schlesinger Productions (A public domain cartoon featuring this title card) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The marriage of music and animation seems apt enough, since the essence of both is movement, and animation giants like Warner Brothers and Walt Disney issued their short theatrical cartoons under the series headings of “Merry Melodies” and “Silly Symphonies.” Often the music behind the cartoons consisted of sappy pop songs of the day or

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Piano Men

When you love something as much as I love the sound of the harpsichord, it’s easy to slip into the invalid assumption that everyone else would love it too, if they were only familiar with it. But that notion took a knocking about five years ago when I was going to lunch in a car with several of my 20-something colleagues at Ravinia. I had just acquired the most spectacular-sounding recording of Bach’s Concerto for Four Harpsichords, and I put it in the car stereo to treat my coworkers to that glorious sound. But within 15 seconds of the start of

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