June 23, 2016

Telling the Oldest Story in the World

The Grant Park Orchestra tackles Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu's rarely performed heroic English-language oration, The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Based on an Assyrian-Babylonian poem set around 3,000 BC, and etched into tablets dating before the seventh century BC, the epic is the oldest literature known to mankind. It predates Homer by at least 1,500 years.

Renowned music critic Bernard Jacobson joins the Orchestra, Chorus and guest soloists Angela Meade, David John Pike, Dane Thomas and Gidon Saks, as the narrator of the evening.

An integral part of the story, the narrator gets to comment on a story that contemplates the themes of friendship, betrayal, love and death. “I’m excited to find that these universal human concerns were expressed so far in the past. They demonstrate just how little people have changed in 4,000 years,” said Jacobson.  

A regular at the old Petrillo bandshell, where he reviewed Grant Park concerts for the Chicago Daily News, Jacobson is excited about returning to Chicago and working with Carlos Kalmar, amidst Frank Gehry’s remarkable architecture. 

He hopes to rise to the challenge of the sheer grandeur of the piece—helping to tell the tale of Sumerian king Gilgamesh, and being a part of one of the “undiscovered masterpieces” of 20th century choral music.

Reserve your seats close to the stage. Order your One Night Membership Pass to the Festival's performance of The Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as Dvořák's Golden Spinning Wheel on July 1 and 2.