The Well-Tempered Ear

Chicago Symphony Orchestra announces next summer’s Ravinia concerts

September 20, 2009
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By Jacob Stockinger

Even as the days are growing cooler and shorter, and as fall deepens, it is consoling to think ahead to next summer.

Which is why I find a certain joy in looking at the just released schedule of next summer’s concerts at Ravinia (below), the suburban summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.Ravinia

The summer season will run June 28 through August 15.

I also like the schedule because it offers some unusual programming that I think other symphony orchestras could learn from and apply to their regular indoor seasons.

For example. the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will open with a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.

And they really mean it.

Guest pianist Garrick Ohlsson (below right, who won the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1971 when he was just 18,  will perform both Chopin concertos plus selected solo piano works. What a great idea, to give a hybrid orchestra concert and piano recital. Does any one else agree?Ohlsson

There will also be a concert of “hits” from Wagner’s “Ring” cycle (just what short attention spans, crowded schedules and tight wallets need) and two concerts offering all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos.

Lots of birthdays celebrations are included too: Ravinia music director James Conlon turns 60 and former music director Christoph Eschenbach turns 70 while Broadway musical legend Stephen Sondheim turns 80. The CSO will also salute the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence, the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Aaron Copland and his student Leonard Bernstein; the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahler and the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer Samuel Barber.

One thing I don’t like: If I understand it correctly, to place an order for reserved seats in the pavilion, you have to become a donor (at $250). That’s too much like the way college and professional sports work these days for The Ear’s taste, though I would like to know your view.

There is an incentive for ordering early: You get 25 percent off the total order if you place it before Jan. 15, 2010.

Take a look at the Ravinia schedule for yourself, then let us know what you think.

Here’s a website for programs and ticket info:

Have you been to Ravinia and how did you like it?

What do you think of Ravinia’s schedule for next summer?

Which program or concert most attracts you?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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