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Ravinia Preview – More Ravinia in Fall, Winter and Spring

By Chicago Splash Magazine Staff Writer

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 If you love Ravinia is summer, look what awaits you for the rest of the year.

Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman today announced the fall, winter and spring concert lineup for the $10 BGH Classics series. These concerts are the year-round extension of the highly successful summertime series held in the intimate, 450-seat Bennett Gordon Hall for which reserved seats are priced at just $10 each. The series will feature violinist Tessa Lark (2 p.m. Oct. 18, Martin Theatre); the Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective (8:30 p.m. Oct. 18); tenor Noah Stewart (Oct. 25); the Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio (Nov. 1); Musicians from Marlboro (Nov. 8); pianist Anthony Molinaro (Nov. 15); holiday shows with Axiom Brass (Nov. 29), Mike Toomey (Dec. 6) and Anima (Dec. 13), The Music Theatre Company of Highland Park exploring the history and highlights of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s revolutionary Allegro (Jan. 31), Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (April 4), and alumni from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute Program for Jazz and the Ravinia Jazz Scholars to celebrate the 80th birthday of Ramsey Lewis and the 100th of Frank Sinatra (May 16).

 

Since the series began in 2011, audiences have been introduced to brilliant musicians who have only continued to earn accolades around the world. In mid-July pianist Behzod Abduraimov, who appeared on the series in 2012, made headlines in the Los Angeles Times when he stepped in for his countryman Yefim Bronfman with the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl: “He has fingers that seem as though they were made to create rainbows.” Superlatives have also characterized pianist Daniil Trifonov since his Ravinia debut on the series in 2012. The Washington Post observed that “[although] we can’t actually know what Liszt sounded like, we do know he mesmerized his listeners, and people found something distinctive and other-worldly and spiritual about him. All those things hold true of Trifonov, as well.” The Financial Times similarly effused, “Virtuosity is one thing, youthful exuberance another. Many aspiring talents survive on just one of these qualities. A lucky few have both. No one combines them with musical maturity the way Trifonov does.” David Greilsammer, another pianist who first appeared at Ravinia on the series in 2012, made a big splash in the realm of recording, earning a place on the New York Times’ “best albums of the year” list in 2013 for Mozart In-Between.

Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective

The faculty of the Pablo Casals Festival in Prades, France, where the namesake cellist lived in exile from Spain, has also long shared its musical talents with the world, and on Oct. 18 the Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective, an ensemble of these luminaries, shares its passion for chamber works including wind instruments with the Windy City. The group is led by festival artistic director and clarinetist Michel Lethiec and features violist Nobuko Imai and cellist Arto Noras—who have been on Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (RSMI) faculty—as well as pianist Melvin Chen and violinists Kyoko Takezawa and Elina Vähälä. They will perform Milhaud’s La création du monde, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major, Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes and Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C Minor.

 

RSMI on Tour

Every spring since 1999 the chamber ensemble Musicians from RSMI, comprising some of the most talented musicians who have attended the summer conservatory, has embarked on a national tour that this year begins on its home stage on April 4. As part of RSMI’s 25th anniversary celebration, the 2014 tour included a stop in Cuba, making the ensemble one of the few American chamber groups to ever have performed there. Led by world-renowned violinist and RSMI Piano and Strings Program Director Miriam Fried, the ensemble includes violinist Yoo Jin Jang, violists Steven Laraia and Leah Ferguson, and cellists Oliver Aldort and SuJin Lee. The program spanning two centuries of music includes Boccherini’s String Quintet in E Major, G. 275; Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor; and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht.

 

Musicians from Marlboro

For the past 50 years the acclaimed Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont has sent numerous alumni on national tours, and on Nov. 8 Musicians from Marlboro will come to Ravinia to showcase the young musical talent it cultivates in the same spirit as RSMI. Under the artistic direction of pianist Mitsuko Uchida, seasoned professionals join with the next generation artists for several weeks, exchanging ideas and rehearsing in depth some 250 chamber music works each summer. This year’s ensemble, anchored by pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, who has also been a faculty member of RSMI, includes violinists Emilie-Anne Gendron and Danbi Um, violist Hsin-Yun Huang and cellists Gabriel Cabezas and Angela Park. They will perform Haydn’s Piano Trio in E‑flat Minor, Britten’s String Quartet No. 3 and Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in G Minor.

Violinist Tessa Lark

To begin the series on Oct. 18, violinist Tessa Lark ascends not the Bennett Gordon Hall stage that she made her own in 2007 and 2008 as a fellow at RSMI, but rather that of the Martin Theatre for a special performance as the 2014 Elaine Frank Artist. She appeared on the $10 BGH Classics series in 2012, shortly after she won the Naumburg International Violin Competition, and this year she was awarded a Leonore Annenberg Fund Grant. Recently making her third appearance on NPR’s From the Top, Lark has been on the faculty of the Great Wall Academy and previously won first prize at both the 2006 Johansen and 2008 Irving M. Klein international string competitions as well as the top prize among Americans at the 2009 Michael Hill International Violin Competition.

 

Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio

Proving that RSMI helps foster lasting musical relationships among the next generation of star performers, on Nov. 1 violinist Elena Urioste, cellist Nicholas Canellakis and pianist Michael Brown retake the stage that they shared in 2009 as fellows at the festival’s summer conservatory. Urioste and Canellakis have each worked with Brown individually as well, and both duos are due to release albums within the next year. Urioste and Brown recently gave a resonating performance at London’s Wigmore Hall, and together Canellakis and Brown have not only performed their original works alongside standard repertoire to equal acclaim but they also produce and star in the satirical YouTube series Conversations with Nick Canellakis, in which they have interviewed such classical stars as the Emerson String Quartet, conductor Osmo Vänskä, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, pianists Jonathan Biss and Leon Fleisher, and fellow YouTube-sensation duo Igudesman and Joo. The Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio’s program includes Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 1, Ravel’s Piano Trio and Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio.

 

Chart-topping Operatic Tenor Noah Stewart

Tenor Noah Stewart makes his Ravinia debut on Oct. 25 with a program paying tribute to one of the greatest Italian tenors of the past century, Carlo Bergonzi. Audiences may remember the Juilliard graduate from the Chicago Opera Theater’s 2008 fully staged premiere of John Adams’s opera A Flowering Tree, in which he portrayed the Prince. He is also an exponent of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program and Adler Fellowship and has not only won plaudits with such opera companies as England’s Royal Opera and Opera North, Madrid’s Teatro Real, Atlanta Opera and Glimmerglass—performing such roles by Puccini as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and Rodolfo in La bohème, as well as Verdi’s Radamès in Aida and Manrico in Il trovatore—but also topped the UK classical charts for several weeks with his 2012 Decca-label debut album, Noah. On the album, Stewart mixed operatic arias with gospel songs and hymns to the sort of acclaim Bergonzi enjoyed for his broad repertoire that ranged from Puccini’s “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca to Tosti’s “Mattinata” to the spiritual “Deep River.”

 

Ravinia Celebrates Jazz Legends with Next Generation

The May 16 grand finale to the series celebrates the milestone birthdays of two central figures in jazz: Frank Sinatra, who would be 100, and 80-year-old Ramsey Lewis, who has been Ravinia’s artistic director of jazz since 1993. In that time Lewis has helped ensure the future of jazz in his hometown of Chicago will continue to burn bright through the organization two decades ago of (and his continued involvement with) the Ravinia Jazz Scholars, one of the earliest initiatives of the festival’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs. The Jazz Scholars comprise over a dozen of the best high-school jazz musicians in the Chicago Public Schools, selected to work with a host of the city’s finest professionals, including Willie Pickens, Bobby Broom and Ernie Adams. Some of these young musicians have gone on to become fellows in the RSMI Program for Jazz, the festival’s intensive summertime studio in which the artists hone their ensemble techniques. Alumni of both the Jazz Scholars and RSMI program will not only pay tribute to Lewis and Sinatra but also celebrate the music being cultivated in Chicago and on the Bennett Gordon Hall stage.

 

Holiday Concerts

On Nov. 29 the Chicago-based brass quintet Axiom Brass cuts through the ribbons of traditional holiday fare with its unique arrangements and reimaginings of familiar tunes. Some of the quintet’s arrangements might carry an additional point of familiarity to Ravinia audiences: several were commissioned from Chicago-area composer James Stephenson, whose musical narrative The Devil’s Tale recently received its world-premiere staging at the festival. The quintet is in residence at the Music Institute of Chicago and Boston University Tanglewood Institute and has won top prizes from the Chamber Music Yellow Springs, International Chamber Brass and Fischoff Chamber Music competitions, among others.

WGN Morning News personality Mike Toomey leads a wonderful second life as a funnyman, and will bring his more than three decades of quips, riffs, impressions and experiences to Ravinia on Dec. 6 for The Mike Toomey Christmas Special a loving send-up of the TV specials America grew up with. Toomey has been featured on such series as HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Colorado, MTV’s Half Hour Comedy Hour and A&E’s Comedy on the Road, and he has performed alongside such artists as Wayne Newton, Reba McEntire and Crosby, Stills & Nash. His TV & Me show has delighted audiences around the country, including the very television actors he parodied in the routine, such as Adam West (Batman) and Henry Winkler (The Fonz).

The songs of the season are undoubtedly among the most familiar in our minds and hearts, and the young singers of Anima (previously known to audiences as the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus) will lend their touch of musical diversity to the world’s most-loved holiday tunes on Dec. 13. The chorus, celebrating its 50th year of raising kids’ voices and spirits, has also been heard at Ravinia in performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana, both Bernstein’s and Mahler’s third symphonies and the latter’s eighth, Puccini’s Tosca, Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion, Britten’s War Requiem and Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio.

Beatles Tribute

In honor of The Beatles’ arrival in America that 50 years ago, Chicago-native classical and jazz pianist Anthony Molinaro will perform his critically acclaimed twist on the Fab Four’s songbook, Here, There and Everywhere, on Nov. 15. There’s no denying he has the chops to take the catalog in a unique direction: the 1997 Naumburg Competition–winning pianist, who made his Ravinia debut shortly thereafter, has also won accolades for his arrangements of Gershwin’s songbook, including a big-band rendition of Rhapsody in Blue that he premiered with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra in 2005. On the recording released earlier this year, he gave 12 of these modern-day standards individual treatments, ranging from creating a Bach-like prelude and fugue based on “Norwegian Wood” and “In My Life” to applying the stride technique of Fats Waller to “When I’m 64.”

Oscar & Richard & Joe: An Evening about Allegro

On Jan. 31 The Music Theatre Company of Highland Park, led by Artistic Director Jessica Redish, will peer behind the curtain of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro through theatrical footnotes of its history and legacy as well as showcase key moments and songs from this rarely produced but revolutionary musical. After the legendary music-and-lyrics tandem turned Broadway’s spotlight on themselves with the immense popularity of Oklahoma! and Carousel, they undertook to enter a new level of stage innovation with Allegro. The show sharply divided critics, but one figure especially found much to admire: Stephen Sondheim. A crew member for the original production, the future Broadway standout recalled that he saw the story of the doctor struggling to avoid compromising his principles as a metaphor for Hammerstein’s own life: “What he was talking about was the trappings, not so much of success, but of losing sight of what your goal is.”

TICKETS AND INFORMATION

Tickets for the series go on sale Aug. 28. Ravinia will also offer ticket-and-dinner packages for the series at the special price of $45. Dinner service, provided by City Park Grill of Highland Park, will begin two hours prior to each concert (except the Oct. 18 matinee, which has no dining package) in the Freehling Room, located in the same building as Bennett Gordon Hall.

Bennett Gordon Hall is located in the John D. Harza Building on Ravinia’s grounds, at 201 St. Johns Avenue in Highland Park, IL. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Ravinia.org or call the Ravinia Box Office at 847-266-5100.

CHRONOLOGY OF 2014–15 $10 BGH CLASSICS SERIES

Artists and programs are subject to change. Artists making their Ravinia debut are marked with a dagger (†). Repertoire being performed at Ravinia for the first time is marked with an asterisk (*).

Saturday, October 18, 2014, 2 p.m.—Martin Theatre

Tessa Lark, Violin

2014 Elaine Frank Artist

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, October 18, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Festival Pablo Casals Prades Collective

   Michel Lethiec, Artistic Director and Clarinet

   Kyoko Takezawa, Violin

   Elina Vähälä, Violin

   Nobuko Imai, Viola

   Arto Noras, Cello

   Melvin Chen, Piano

      Milhaud:                La création du monde, Op. 81

      Mozart:                  Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581

      Prokofiev:              Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34

      Fauré:                    Piano Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 15

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, October 25, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Noah Stewart, Tenor †

   Tribute to Carlo Bergonzi

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, November 1, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio

   Elena Urioste, Violin

   Nicholas Canellakis, Cello †

   Michael Brown, Piano

      Shostakovich:        Piano Trio No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 8 (“Poème”)

      Ravel:                    Piano Trio

      Beethoven:             Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 (“Archduke”)

Joseph M. Fabbioli Concert

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, November 8, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Musicians from Marlboro

   Emilie-Anne Gendron, Violin

   Danbi Um, Violin

   Hsin-Yun Huang, Viola

   Gabriel Cabezas, Cello

   Angela Park, Cello

   Ieva Jokubaviciute, Piano

      Haydn:                  Piano Trio in E-flat Minor, Hob. XV:31 *

      Britten:                   String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94

      Fauré:                    Piano Quartet No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 45

Supported by The Bruning Foundation

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, November 15, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Anthony Molinaro, Piano

   Here, There and Everywhere

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Axiom Brass

   Holiday concert

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, December 6, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Mike Toomey

   The Mike Toomey Christmas Special

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, December 13, 2014, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Anima

   Holiday concert

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, January 31, 2015, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

The Music Theatre Company of Highland Park

   Oscar & Richard & Joe

      An evening about Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

 

Saturday, April 4, 2015, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute

   Miriam Fried, Violin

   Yoo Jin Jang, Violin

   Steven Laraia, Viola

   Leah Ferguson, Viola

   Oliver Aldort, Cello

   SuJin Lee, Cello

      Boccherini:            String Quintet in E Major, G. 275 *

      Mendelssohn:        String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13

      Schoenberg:           Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

Saturday, May 16, 2015, 8:30 p.m.—Bennett Gordon Hall

Alumni from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute Program for Jazz

Alumni from Ravinia Jazz Scholars

   Tribute to Frank Sinatra and Ramsey Lewis

Tickets: $10 / No lawn sales

 

 Photos: Courtesy of Ravinia

 

Published on Sep 03, 2014

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