This summer, Rush Hour Concerts (RHC) celebrates its 15th anniversary season and honors the memory of its founder, Deborah Sobol, who passed away unexpectedly January 25, 2014 at the age of 63. Sobol launched RHC in 2000 to create free public access to high-quality music and, since then, the summer concert series has become a beloved annual event offering live classical music every Tuesday evening after work in River North’s serene and historic St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron Street. The 2014 Summer Concert Series runs June 3 through August 26; each evening begins with a pre-concert reception with the artists at 5:15 pm in the cathedral foyer, followed by a 30- to 45-minute concert at 5:45 pm. The reception and concert are always free and no tickets are required. For the 5th consecutive year, 98.7 WFMT broadcasts the Summer Concert Series live from St. James Cathedral each week.
Rush Hour Concerts also produces Make Music Chicago, June 21, and brings musical experiences and education to under-resourced neighborhoods in Chicago through its Community Engagement programs.
RHC has implemented a shared artistic leadership model that was under development with Sobol, who was considering a long-term succession plan prior to her sudden passing. Brant Taylor, cellist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a longtime RHC performer, takes over as Interim Artistic Director, while Pianist Kuang-Hao Huang continues as Associate Artistic Director, a position he took up in 2013 after many years working with RHC and its offshoot event, Make Music Chicago. Violist Anthony Devroye (Artistic Director of Avalon String Quartet) serves as Consulting Artistic Director. Kitty Rothschild, an organizational development strategist and former Managing Partner and Executive Producer with ROI Ventures (now Frequency540), serves as the Rush Hour Concert’s Acting Executive Director, a position she acquired in the fall of 2013.
“While I miss my dear friend and colleague, Deborah Sobol, I am pleased to help bring her vision into reality in Rush Hour's 15th anniversary season,” said Taylor. “Debbie believed strongly in the power of great music to transform people, and that access to this music should be free. Everyone at Rush Hour Concerts looks forward to sharing with Chicago a wonderful lineup of artists for our Summer Series, as well as Make Music Chicago, the annual day-long celebration of music on June 21.”
Highlights of Rush Hour Concerts’ 15th Anniversary season include Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale),a 1918 collaboration between Stravinsky and Swiss writer C. F. Ramuz that tells the story of a young soldier who gives his violin to the devil in exchange for a book that tells the future, and the subsequent redemption of the soldier and his revitalizing gift for music. A piece for seven musicians, this work celebrating the transcendent power of music serves as a fit season opener. Other highlights include a Bach double-header featuring Sones de Mexico Ensemble, the concert which will serve as the season’s formal tribute to founder Sobol; the return of “Lyric Shorts” featuring talented young singers from the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center; another iteration of RHC’s fruitful collaboration with the Poetry Foundation; and, a World Premiere by Jason Seed commissioned in honor of RHC’s 15th anniversary.
Make Music Chicago 2014
Make Music Chicago, a free, live musical celebration across Chicago, returns for its fourth annual happening Saturday, June 21, the Summer Solstice and longest day of the year. Make Music Chicago is presented by Rush Hour Concerts. Inspired by a tradition which originated in France called Fête de la Musique, now taking place in dozens of cities around the world all on the same day, Make Music Chicago was pioneered by Sobol in conjunction with the Alliance Française de Chicago and other Chicago cultural partners.
Throughout the day, people of all ages and from all backgrounds – beginners, amateurs, professionals, and marquee artists – gather in Chicago’s public spaces to perform music of all genres. In 2013, the musical combustion spread throughout the city and North Shore at over 60 different sites including Daley Plaza, Midway Plaisance, Millennium Park, 63rd Street Beach, Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Park Zoo, among many others.
Ongoing Community Engagement
In 2012, Rush Hour Concerts launched two unique Community Engagement residencies in Chicago’s Back of the Yards and Garfield Park neighborhoods, designed to provide expert music instruction from world-renowned ensembles to under-resourced communities. By partnering with Third Coast Percussion, Fifth House Ensemble, the Chicago Park District and Providence St. Mel School, RHC created educational residency programs that are redefining the boundaries of arts education.
Now, thanks to new funding from the Caerus Foundation and a partnership with the Merit School of Music, RHC’s Community Engagement has grown into a year-round program in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, a public/private partnership to bring integral arts education to underserved youth. Third Coast Percussion has been joined by Sones de Mexico, Axiom Brass and Spektral Quartet to pioneer the music education possibilities, continuing after-school music classes and rehearsals five days a week at the Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish (HCIHM). They have enhanced HCIHM’s student choral program, recruited over 50 students to build a new youth orchestra, and are collaborating with their nationally recognized Marimba Ensemble on a concert program to be performed in Make Music Chicago 2014.
2014 Summer Concert Series
Program: Igor Stravinsky: L’Histoire du soldat
Artists: Fulcrum Point New Music Project
Program: Johannes Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major
Artists: Janet Sung (violin) and Kuang-Hao Huang (piano)
Sponsored in part by Joyce Saxon
Program: Howard Frazin: Some Thoughts on Good and Evil
Artists: John Macfarlane (violin), Brant Taylor (cello) and Winston Choi (piano)
Make Music Chicago
Program: Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring
Artists: Members of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestras; John Macfarlane, conductor
Program: ErnĹ‘ Dohnányi’: String Trio
Artists: Liba Schacht (violin), Carol Cook (viola) and John Sharp (cello)
Program: To be announced
Program: “All-Bach Double-Header” featuring Trio Sonata No. 4, Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, and more. A special one-hour concert dedicated to Founder Deborah Sobol.
Artists: Featuring Bruce Barber (organ) and Sones de Mexico Ensemble
Sponsored in part by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation
Program: Ludwig van Beethoven: Cello Sonata in D major
Artists: Brant Taylor (cello) and Kuang-Hao Huang (piano)
Sponsored in part by Joyce Saxon
Program: “Lyric Shorts” featuring excerpts from Mozart’s Don Giovanni
Artists: Singers from the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Program: Poetry Foundation: “Open Door Encore,” featuring readings of original poetry, composed by area professors and their students, set to music
Musical artists: Quintet Attacca
Sponsored in part by the Poetry Foundation
Program: Trios of Khachatryan and Bartók
Artists: Fifth House Ensemble
Program: Rush Hour Concerts 15th Anniversary commissioned World Premiere
Artists: Jason Seed Stringtet
Program: Steve Reich: Sextet
Artists: Third Coast Percussion with Daniel Schlosberg (piano) and Amy Briggs (piano)
About Rush Hour Concerts Leadership
Born in New York, Brant Taylor (Interim Artistic Director) began cello studies at the age of 8. His varied career includes solo appearances and collaborations with leading chamber musicians throughout North America, Europe and Asia, as well as orchestral, pedagogical and popular music activities. After one year as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Taylor was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) by Daniel Barenboim in 1998. In Chicago, Taylor's recital appearances include the Dame Myra Hess Concerts, First Monday Concerts, Rush Hour Concerts, the Ravinia Festival's Rising Stars recital series and regular live radio broadcasts from the studio of WFMT. He has appeared regularly with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and on the CSO's contemporary chamber music series MusicNOW. In 2002, Taylor began a seven-year association with the band Pink Martini. With this eclectic ensemble, he has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, and at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Active as a teacher of both cello and chamber music, Taylor serves on the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music. He has also been a faculty member at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts and Northwestern University's National High School Music Institute. From 1992-97, Taylor was cellist of the Everest Quartet, prizewinners at the Banff and Fischoff chamber music competitions.
Pianist Kuang-Hao Huang (Associate Artistic Director) has performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Asia. Huang is most often heard as a collaborator, performing concerts and radio broadcasts with Chicago's finest musicians, from instrumentalists of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to singers with the Lyric Opera. He has been a guest of the Chicago Chamber Musicians and has performed with the Avalon, Chicago, Spektral and Vermeer String Quartets and on multiple Rush Hour Concert’s performances. Huang can be heard in recordings on the Cedille and Naxos labels. An advocate of new music, Huang is a member of Fulcrum Point New Music Project. Also a dedicated teacher, Huang serves on the faculties of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and Concordia University-Chicago.
Anthony Devroye (Consulting Artistic Director) enjoys a varied and active career as chamber, orchestral and solo violist and teacher. He has been violist of the Avalon String Quartet since 2004 and on the faculty at the Northern Illinois University School of Music since 2007. Devroye has performed with the quartet at major venues throughout the United States, as well as in France and South Korea. He has taught at the Interlochen Advanced String Quartet Program, the Icicle Creek Music Center and Madeline Island Music Camp, and has given master classes at UCLA, BYU, DePaul and the University of Tennessee.
As an organizational Strategist, Leadership Advisor and Executive Coach, Kitty Rothschild (Acting Executive Director) brings her extensive real-world experience in operations, product development, branding, marketing and production to help pinpoint an organization’s core strengths, reveal operational inefficiencies and, ultimately, increase the impact of its mission and goals. Rothschild served as Managing Partner and Director of Operations, Business Affairs and Production for over six years at ROI Ventures, from its inception through its acquisition and transition into the digital marketing firm Frequency540. As Director of Production at FQ540, she ensured a high standard of production values, efficiency and integrity in the production and creative departments. Prior to ROI Ventures, Rothschild had a substantial career in marketing and advertising, working in executive leadership positions at top ad agencies such as Hal Riney & Partners, BBDO and Draft/FCB. Additionally, she is an alumna of Francis W. Parker, Smith College, Interlochen Arts Academy and The Aspen Music Festival’s Vocal Institute.
About Rush Hour Concerts: Making Music Accessible
Since its inception in 2000, Rush Hour Concerts has reinvented the classical music experience through a dedication to artistic quality, a concert format suitable to contemporary lifestyles and a policy of admission-free events. Rush Hour Concerts has created groundbreaking programs and access initiatives that have revolutionized music-making in Chicago and forged trendsetting partnerships with the city’s arts and cultural community. In addition to the Summer Concert Series, Rush Hour Concerts unites the city through music every year during Make Music Chicago on the summer solstice, June 21, a citywide, daylong celebration of everyone’s ability to make music.
Rush Hour Concerts is committed to broadening arts access and launched its Community Engagement Residencies to bring expert musical instruction to under-resourced neighborhoods in Chicago through a long-term strategy of artistic and community collaboration. Now in its 15th year, Rush Hour Concerts has expanded into a year-round arts organization, yet remains grounded in its mission to reach across all communities with new ways for audiences to experience world-class music in Chicago.
To learn more about Rush Hour Concerts visit The Rush Hour Concerts Website.