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Classical Fri Apr 06 2012
By Elliot Mandel
Let's skip the small talk: Yo-Yo Ma will perform Dvorak's Cello Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on May 5 and 6, 2012. I could list all the reasons why you should see this concert, but that would waste time. Simply put: whether you're into this classical music stuff or not, everyone should see Yo-Yo play the undisputed giant of the cello repertoire. But if you can't get tickets to the Dvorak concerts, try May 10 or 11, 2012 when Yo-Yo plays the Haydn concerto; or April 29, 2012, when he joins longtime collaborators guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad and pianist Kathryn Stott in a concert of Brazilian music. Frankly, it doesn't matter if he's performing with Elmo or hanging out with a wombat, Yo-Yo is one of the most magnetic performers of any genre and always worth the price of admission. So call the Symphony (312-294-3000) for tickets.
Now, what to do until then?
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Don Quixote, the tragic dreamer from Cervantes's novel of the same name, is given musical treatment in Richard Strauss's "Fantastic portrait of a knightly character." Two CSO principals get the spotlight in solo roles: cellist John Sharp plays the title character, and violist Charles Pikler plays the faithful companion Sancho Panza. Sharing the bill is Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky who performs Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3, a piece overflowing with sensual melodies. Charles Dutoit conducts. Tickets start at $29. Performances are on Thursday, April 5 and Saturday, April 7, at 8pm, Friday, April 6, at 1:30pm, and Tuesday, April 10, at 7:30pm. Symphony Center is located at 220 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago Opera Theater
COT's short season is a burst of edgy, sexy opera. Forget the stuffy image with the fat lady wearing horns; COT delivers the heightened crazy of opera ("I'm dying, but I'm gonna sing about it for 8 minutes.") with modern productions and fantastic singers. The season opens with Dmitri Shostakovich's rarely staged Moscow, Cheryomushki, a satire of the Soviet housing system from a composer who wrote cutting satire into all of his music. The season continues with George Frideric Handel's Teseo, the conclusion to the Medea trilogy that details the exploits of the vindictive and psychotic goddess, Medea. Tickets start at $27.50. Moscow opens Saturday, April 14, 7:30pm and runs through April 25, 2012. Teseo opens Saturday, April 21, 2012 and runs through May 2, 2012. The Harris Theater for Music and Dance is located at 205 E. Randolph St.
Unfortunately, there aren't many ensembles that look like the Chicago Sinfonietta. Founded by Paul Freeman in 1987 to provide opportunities for minority musicians, the Sinfonietta features soloists, conductors, composers, and orchestral players of all colors. The Sinfonietta's audience reflects the orchestra: a diverse mix of music fans that proves classical music isn't just for old white men. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Sinfonietta is performing works from its first year by a diverse group of composers: Alberto Ginastera, Samuel Barber, George Walker, and Beethoven. Tickets are $18. Thursday, April 19, 7:30pm. Symphony Center is located at 220 S. Michigan Ave.
Programs, artists, and prices subject to change. Tickets subject to availability.
Hear a great concert recently? Have a tip on an upcoming show? Talk about it in the comments.
About the author: Elliot Mandel plays cello, attends lots of concerts, writes reviews, takes pictures, and loves sports. He met Yo-Yo Ma and won't shut up about it.