May 17, 2016

Lunchtime Learning

Docent Susan Fauer shares her insights at an open rehearsal.

On Tuesdays through Fridays around lunchtime, a crowd sits in rapt attention at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion to watch the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus and guest artists rehearse upcoming performances. During the musicians’ break, tourists, families, professionals from nearby businesses, students, and classical music enthusiasts gather together in the Seating Bowl surrounding the stage to listen to docent-led talks about the composer, music, and history of classical music. These open rehearsals and lunchtime talks are a part of Festival Connect, a community engagement and education initiative of the Festival to increase music education and lifelong learning opportunities for audiences of all ages.

“I am always amazed at the large number of tourists who have traveled so many miles and wind up sitting down for rehearsal of the Grant Park Orchestra,” said Susan Fauer, who is returning to the Festival in her sixth season as a docent. “I love interacting with the children, especially the ones in strollers. All of us respond to music, and the little kids are no exceptions.”

In addition to sharing information on upcoming Festival programs, docent-led talks also include details on the history of Millennium Park, the lakefront, and the city of Chicago. 

Festival fans aren’t the only ones receiving an educational experience, however. The docents, an all-volunteer force, devote many hours learning about the music featured in each program and expanding their knowledge of the Festival and Chicago to ensure that even repeat visitors come away from Open Rehearsals learning something new.

“I try to find a new angle, to offer our regulars some original insights into familiar topics,” said Fauer. “I take advantage of all the meetings, tours and lectures that were offered to the docents, which allowed me to develop and strengthen my understanding of how this marvelous festival came to be, how it has endured, and what goes into keeping it alive.”

Visitors can also attend our Brown Bag Lunch Series, which features guest artists and composers from this season. The docent-led talks and Brown Bag lunches take place during the rehearsal breaks on Tuesday through Friday. Exact times may vary.

2016 Brown Bag Lunch Series

  • Friday, June 17: Michael Torke, composer
  • Wednesday, July 20: Frans Lanting, artist
  • Friday, August 5: Michael Gandolfi, composer