Grant Park Music Festival Promises Big ‘Plans’
March 18, 2009
John von Rhein at the Chicago Tribune previews the Grant Park Music Festival's upcoming 75th season.
As one of the oldest continuing traditions in Chicago music, the Grant Park Music Festival has many significant achievements to celebrate and many no doubt to come.
Just ahead is a major anniversary — the festival’s 75th season of classical and world music, jazz and dance events, running June 10 to Aug. 15 in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Additional concerts will be given in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance adjacent to the pavilion at 205 E. Randolph Drive.
The only free, municipally sponsored outdoor summer classical music series in the nation is a festival in transition, having lost its artistic and general director, James Palermo, to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra earlier this month. No successor has been named.
But virtually all 21 programs to be performed by the Grant Park Orchestra this summer were planned by Palermo before his departure. And the festival’s musical leadership — principal conductor Carlos Kalmar and chorus director Christopher Bell — continues as before. Joining Kalmar and Bell this year will be guest conductors Hans Graf, Gilbert Varga, Kirill Karabits, Juanjo Mena and Pietari Inkinen.
Among the season highlights will be:
- The world premiere of American composer Michael Torke’s “Plans” for orchestra and chorus, a Grant Park commission that will launch the citywide Burnham Plan centennial celebration, June 19 and 20. Kalmar will direct, with vocal soloists Jonita Lattimore and Bryan Griffin.
- Kalmar is bookending the season with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on opening night and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to close the 2009 festival.
- On July 1, a re-creation of Grant Park’s first-ever symphonic concert, which took place on the same date in 1935. The program will include short orchestral works by Wagner, Liszt and others.
- Two oratorios—Shostakovich’s “The Song of the Forests,” June 12; and Elgar’s “The Dream of Gerontius,” July 31 and Aug. 1. Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 will feature prominently at Grant Park and Ravinia this summer; the Grant Park performances will be Aug. 7-8.
- Bell will bring his Grant Park Chorus to the fore in a program of American a cappella works at the Harris Theater on June 30 and July 2; also a pairing of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado,” July 10-11.
- Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Souza, who will collaborate with the Luna Negra Dance Theater on July 22 and 24.
- Soloists, including singers Nicole Cabell, Amber Wagner, Kathryn Leemhuis, Russell Thomas, John Horton Murray, Jason Grant and Denis Sedov; pianists Stephen Hough, Ingrid Fliter and Jon Kimura Parker; and violinists James Ehnes and Karen Gomyo.
Details for the July 3 Independence Eve concert slated at the Petrillo Music Shell are to be announced.
Call 312-742-7638 for further information; or visit grantparkmusicfestival.com.