Ravinia Festival 2012 announces schedule
Philip Glass at Ravinia June 23
Updated: March 9, 2012 8:52AM
In the spirit of the 76th anniversary of its summer residency at the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will play its first 2012 concert in Highland Park on the Fourth of July.
The all-American program will be led by Steven Reineke, music director of the New York Pops, and will feature music by John Williams, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, George M. Cohan, and Irving Berlin, as well as an Armed Forces Salute.
The 2012 Ravinia Festival season was announced by Welz Kauffman, festival president
and CEO. It opens June 7 with a dance program and continues through Sept. 9 with more than 100 events, including classical concerts for $10 in the intimacy of 450-seat year-round Bennett Gordon Hall.
Ravinia’s music director since 2005, James Conlon, whose contract has been extended through the summer of 2014, arrives July 19 to conduct more than a dozen concerts, at least half of which will be in the Martin Theatre.
His initial program will be “Magical Night,” Kurt Weill’s first stage work, which history initially jinxed. After a performance in Berlin and another in London, the orchestral score dropped out of sight and only by chance was discovered in 2006 after being misfiled for 80 years at Yale University.
It is part of Conlon’s singular series “Breaking the Silence,” which presents works by composers, such as Weill, who were forced to flee Nazi Germany or whose careers or lives were damaged or ended during the Third Reich.
Conlon will be on the podium of the pavilion for the Women’s Board gala on July 21, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the board’s founding. The program, titled “Leading Ladies,” stars Broadway’s Patti Lupone, a perennial festival favorite, and soprano Patricia Racette from the Metropolitan Opera.
Conlon, who is music director of the Los Angeles Opera, will also conduct two performances each of two Mozart operas in the Martin Theatre: “The Magic Flute” with Nathan Gunn and Morris Robinson Aug. 16 and 18, and “Idomeneo” with Susanna Phillips on Aug. 17 and 19.
Superstars will illuminate the summer nights. Closing the season will be cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Sept. 7, violinist Itzhak Perlman on Sept. 8 in the pavilion and soprano Dawn Upshaw on Sept. 9 in the Martin Theatre. Each will appear with the Knights, an innovative chamber orchestra which drew acclaim when it made its debut at the festival in 2010.
A variety of a conductors will lead the Chicago Symphony, including Marvin Hamlisch, the well-known film (“The Way We Were”) and Broadway (“A Chorus Line”) composer, who has won Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, a Tony and a Pulitzer prize. On July 8 he will conduct Idina Menzel, star of “Wicked” and “Glee.”
Christoph Eschenbach, Ravinia music director from 1994 to 2003, said famously when he left, “I hope I will still be invited back.” He has indeed returned almost every season since and will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra July 13 in an evening of Brahms, and July 14 with Erik Schumann as soloist in Korngold’s Violin Concerto in the pavilion.
On July 16 Eschenbach, also a superb pianist, will accompany baritone Matthias Goerne in an evening of works by Schubert and Brahms in the Martin.
Welz Kauffman started the festival’s “One Score, One Chicago” in 2003, inspired by the Chicago Public Library’s “One Book, One Chicago.” This year’s selection, Holst’s otherworldly “The Planets,” will be performed July 31 by the Chicago Symphony and women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus under the baton of John Axelrod.
The film “Gustav Holst’s The Planets,” seven videos by Emmy-nominated astronomer Jose Francisco Salgado, will be shown on the pavilion screens and another screen on the lawn. The festival plans to import astronomers with telescopes to provide a view of the night sky, provided it doesn’t rain!
The 850-seat Martin Theatre, the only building remaining from the park’s original 1904 construction, will be the site of a rich mix of chamber music concerts, starting with pianist Leon Fleisher and friends June 21 and including Midori’s performance of Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin over two nights July 3 and 5; the Emerson String Quartet July 6; guitarist Angel Romero July 8; the Tokyo String Quartet July 24; an all-Russian recital by pianist Denis Matsuev July 30; two vocal programs, one by baritone Gerald Finley, accompanied by pianist Kevin Murphy on Aug. 9, and another by soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, accompanied by Murphy on Aug. 14; and the Juilliard String Quartet Sept. 6.
On June 23 the Martin will be the site of a celebration for the 75th birthday of American composer Philip Glass, with Glass on the piano and Timothy Fain on violin.
For a complete calendar of events, visit www.ravinia.org.