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Classical Mon Jun 04 2012
by Elliot Mandel
June kicks off a great summer for music: loads of free concerts indoors and out, and Riccardo Muti returns to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its final concerts of the season. But if you're just too busy enjoying the hot weather, street festivals, and local bands, take a few minutes on June 21 to find your nearest live performance during the city-wide Make Music Chicago. There is no excuse this month — did I mention free concerts?
Rush Hour Concerts
There simply is no better half hour of live music in the summer than the Rush Hour concerts at St. James Cathedral. Rush Hour's innovative programming ranges from traditional favorites to genre-bending styles. June's lineup includes the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet, contemporary music advocates Fifth House Ensemble, and Third Coast Percussion's celebration of John Cage. Take shelter from the late afternoon heat — or wait out the Cubs traffic — in a building whose bell tower still shows evidence of the Chicago Fire. The free admission includes a free pre-concert reception and free music provided by some of the best local musicians and ensembles. Tuesdays through August, beginning June 5, 5:45pm. St. James Cathedral, Wabash and Huron.
Grant Park Music Festival
Grab a blanket, some wine, plenty of food and friends, and set up on the lawn of the Pritzker Pavilion for the opening of the Grant Park Music Festival's 78th season. Director Carlos Kalmar will lead the Grant Park Orchestra in Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, and Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, a swooning work emblematic of the Czech composer's folk influences. In between, German cellist Alban Gerhardt perform's Elgar's Cello Concerto, one of the English composer's most beloved pieces for its singing humanity in the face of anguish and destruction. Other June highlights include George Gershwin's An American in Paris (Saturday, June 23) and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30). Free. Opening night is Wednesday, June 13, 6:30pm. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park.
Make Music Chicago
"Music is music," modernist composer Alban Berg reportedly told George Gershwin. The second annual Make Music Chicago is a day that embodies Berg's simple philosophy. Chicago joins a growing international phenomenon of a city-wide day of free music in public spaces. Classical music is represented by nearly every possible combination of instruments including a bass ensemble and percussion quartet. Other categories include blues, folk, hip-hop, jazz, rock, and international. Peruse the list for your nearest park, church, library, plaza, or Apple store and enjoy one of the most unique musical offerings of the summer. Free. Thursday, June 21, all day, locations throughout the city.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Riccardo Muti's appearances at Orchestra Hall this year have provided audiences with some memorable events, musical and otherwise. He returns to Chicago to close out the season with characteristic flare, leading Anton Bruckner's Sixth Symphony. Bruckner's music is a slow burn that rewards the listener's patience, and the CSO is one of the best in delivering the richness and color of the Austrian composer's vast scores. Paired with the symphony is Niccoló Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1, a high-flying work that requires dizzying technical acuity. Robert Chen, the CSO's unassuming and solid concertmaster, will showcase his violin chops and golden tone as soloist. This is gonna be a good one, people. Tickets start at $26. Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23, 8pm; Sunday, June 24, 3pm. Symphony Center, 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, watches sports, and loves air conditioning.