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Classical Thu Dec 01 2011
by Elliot Mandel
An ambitious few weeks of Mahler and modern music will take us into the depths of December. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra continues its cycle of Mahler symphonies, and contemporary programs will make for some very un-silent nights. So if you're burned out on fa-la-la-la-las, buy some concert tickets for an early gift or check out the sales at Cedille Records (a Chicago classical music label). See you next year!
Hear a great concert recently? Have a tip on an upcoming show? Talk about it in the comments.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Mahler begins his First Symphony in much the same suspenseful manner as Beethoven ends his final symphony. From there, Mahler expands on folk songs, Viennese waltzes, and an eerie minor key rendition of "Frère Jacques." Also on the program, CSO principal bassoonist David McGill plays Mozart's Bassoon Concerto, a chance to hear an orchestra member front and center. Conductor Jaap van Zweden has led the CSO in rave reviews in previous appearances, and this one should be no different. Tickets start at $29. December 1-3, 2011 at 8pm at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
The most exciting new quartet on the scene, the highly talented members of the Spektral Quartet have an insatiable appetite for contemporary music. With off-the-charts technical abilities, the quartet is gaining loyalty in fans and composers by bringing a new energy to chamber music. Having played at the Empty Bottle earlier this year, Spektral will highlight the music of local composers and showcase the variety of new music on the rise. Admission is free. December 5, 7:30pm at Northwestern University's Lutkin Hall, 700 University Place, Evanston.
Internationally renowned for its treatment of Renaissance and Baroque music, this small England-based choir is also especially suited for modern works. The Tallis Scholars make their only Chicago appearance during their North American tour to perform a series of pieces ranging from the 14th to 20th centuries and set to the text of the Magnificat. Though billed as a holiday concert and taking place in a cathedral, don't expect to see religious iconography or candy canes; the beauty of this music transcends religion and will carry you far away from door-buster TV commercials, if only for a couple hours. Tickets are $20, $5 for students. December 9, 7:30pm at the Rockefeller Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago.
Hubbard Street Dance and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Modern dance and live music meet when Hubbard Street Dance and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra combine forces on the CSO's innovative MusicNow series. Continuing a successful collaboration, HSD will perform a new work choreographed by Terrence Marling and set to music by CSO co-composer in residence Anna Clyne. The program also features Chicago composer Lee Hyla. A free reception follows the show. Tickets are $20, $10 for students. December 12, 7pm at the Harris Theater at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph, Chicago.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Want more Mahler? His monumental Sixth Symphony is scored for an enormous orchestra, nearly doubling the amount of horns (8), trumpets (6), trombones (4), and timpani (6) in a regulation-size orchestra. In one expansive work, Mahler reaches moments of intimacy and destruction: the cowbells of his childhood, a portrait of his wife, and the searing march of World War I on the horizon. The Sixth is famous for what must be a percussionist's dream: the three "hammer blows" from a giant wooden mallet. Tickets start at $26. December 15 and 17, 8pm; December 16, 1:30pm at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
Programs, artists, and prices subject to change. Tickets subject to availability.
About the author: Elliot Mandel plays cello, attends lots of concerts, writes reviews, takes pictures, and loves sports. He finds The Nutcracker very disturbing.