Entertainment About Town


By Joseph Cunniff

Culture lovers rejoice!  Chicago’s fabulous cultural scene is returning to live performances.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is returning to Symphony Center with up-to-date safety measures.  How grand to hear one of the world’s greatest orchestras again at the treasured hall.  A series of well-balanced programs were clearly designed to display many attributes of the famed ensemble.

First, Michael Mulcahy was born in Sydney, Australia, and appointed to the CSO trombone section in 1989.  He also conducts, lectures and appears as a soloist worldwide.  He led the CSO in imaginative American program Aaron Copland’s famously brassy “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Samuel Barber’s 20th-century interpretation of a Bach chorale, and music influenced by jazz and film by Leonard Bernstein, Gunther Schuller, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Another creatively crafted program was led by former CSO Georg Solti Conducting Apprentice Erina Yashmina, including two “Novelettes” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Schubert’s charming Symphony No. 5, Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly’s zesty “Dances of Galanta,” and “Strum” by newly appointed CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery.

Amsterdam-born maestro Edo de Waart, 79, conducts all over the world.  He leads the CSO June 10, 11, 12 and 13 in a program including Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.  Visit cso.org or call 312-294-3000.

Next, the CSO will return to its sylvan summer home of Ravinia.  There will be 15 programs July 9–Aug. 15.  They will be led by Marin Alsop, stepping into the role of chief conductor and curator for first time.  Guest conductors will include James Conlon and Pinchas Zukerman, and soloists will include violinist Joshua Bell and soprano Larisa Martinez.

Each concert will have 50 players and no chorus.  Everything will be outside; no concerts in the Ravinia theater.  Opening night will see Alsop leading Joan Tower’s “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1,” Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with pianist Jorge Federico Osorio, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.  Visit ravinia.org or call 847-266-5100.

The beloved Grant Park Music Festival will return starting July 2 with an Independence Day salute including a lot of American music plus Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”  So many people have been longing for the return of Ravinia and Grant Park!  Up-to-date safety measures will be observed, and conductor Carlos Kalmar will return to lead the Grant Park Symphony through Aug. 21.  Concerts are free and will be presented Wed., Fri., and Sat. evenings at 6:30 p.m.  Run time will be 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Although the seating capacity is usually 11,000, as of this writing a 25 percent audience cap will mean only 3,000 will be allowed at each performance.  For free passes to the Independence Day concert, you may visit gpmf.org or call 312-742-7647 starting at 10 a.m. on June 30.  For a complete schedule visit gpmf.org.  The concerts will also be broadcast on WFMT, 98.7 FM and at wfmt.com/listen.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier is planning to return to live performances with Shakespeare’s joyous comedy As You Like It in October.  This writer makes it a point to read a bit of Shakespeare every day, and I am currently reading As You Like It for the first time in many years.

Shakespeare is always enjoyable under any circumstances; but for me, it is even more enjoyable when I have read the play.  I highly recommend the Folger Shakespeare Library paperback editions, which are handy and have clear explanatory notes.  This production should be especially delightful, since it pairs the comedy with hit songs by the Beatles!

Visit chicagoshakes.com or call 312-595-5600.

Joseph Cunniff is a
Chicago-based arts writer.