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Classical Thu Oct 09 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - October 2014

"Classical music is dead. Long live classical music!" - The Internet.

The lesson: Read less internet. See more music.

Spektral Quartet: Sampler Pack
If you haven't seen the Spektrals by now, then I just don't know. Do yourself a favor and check out their latest Sampler Pack concert to get a distillation of their entire outlook on music. n one performance, SQ offers small bits of works from Ligeti's manic Quartet No. 2 to Beethoven's melancholic Opus 132; from brooding Philip Glass to nostalgic Dvorak. Hear string players sing and recite poetry while playing during David Reminick's The Ancestral Mousetrap, and hear selections from SQ's Mobile Minis ringtone project. The ever-evolving quartet will welcome violinist Clara Lyon to the group, in place of the departing Aurelien Pederzoli. There will also be alcohol. Tickets are $12. Saturday, October 25, 8pm. Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Wed Sep 17 2014

New Music for Solo Cello: Ian Maksin Returns to Chicago

Cellist Ian Maksin returns to Chicago this Saturday night for an album-release concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., at 8pm. The Russian-born cellist has moved beyond classical repertoire (which he plays beautifully) to embrace more unusual territory for solo cello. Maksin's forthcoming album, "Soul Companion," includes his own compositions that touch on jazz and folk influences. The album also features commissioned works by Chicago composers Ilya Levinson and Seth Boustead. More than just a live version of the album, this concert includes an eclectic lineup of guest artists, including members of the flamenco ensemble Las Guitarras de España, Indian veena player Saraswathi Ranganathan, and the Joffrey Ballet's Lucas Segovia. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $18 for OTSFM members.

Elliot Mandel / Comments (1)

Classical Thu Sep 04 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - September 2014

It's gonna be a great season.

Collaborative Works Festival
The Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) presents its annual Collaborative Works Festival: four days of vocal chamber music in some of the city's most comfortable and intimate venues. The 2014 festival explores the personal and musical relationships between Robert and Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms with a lineup of some of the nation's best voices. The opening and closing concerts feature soprano Susanna Phillips, mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor, tenor Nicholas Phan, and baritone Joshua Hopkins accompanied by Myra Huang. Renowned mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung gives a solo recital of works by Brahms, R. Schumann, Manuel De Falla, Edward Elgar, and Joseph Marx. Tickets and venue info available at www.caichicago.org. September 11-14. Poetry Foundation, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at Harold Washington Library, Pianoforte, Logan Center for the Arts.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Elliot Mandel

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

Chicago Q Ensemble: Living Loop Festival
Loop workers: get out of the office and go hear Chicago Q Ensemble play Mozart in one of the Loop's few open-air respites. The trio — whose recent performance at Constellation was nothing short of magnetic and intense — plugs in and performs the E-flat major Divertimento. You don't need to be Einstein to enjoy Mozart, but Einstein himself really loved Mozart. Of this particular Divertimento, he wrote, "Every note is significant, every note is a contribution to spiritual and sensuous fulfillment in sound...the finest, most perfect trio ever heard." Admission is free. Friday, August 8, noon. 1 South Dearborn, Chicago.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Jul 01 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - July 2014

By Elliot Mandel

All of a sudden it's the middle of summer and the weather is consistently warm. Head outside with a picnic and plenty of wine and listen to some big ol' classics.

Ravinia: Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays New World
Dvořák's Ninth Symphony is a perfect match for the CSO's famous brass section and rich strings. The "New World Symphony" — written in 1893 while the composer was living in the U.S. — may or may not have been influenced by Native American and African American music, though it somehow sounds quintessentially American. The extended English horn solo is worth the price alone. Pianist Dejan Lazić performs Chopin's lush and stormy Piano Concerto No. 2 in f minor. Stravinsky's Suite from The Firebird rounds out a program of large-scale symphonic music. Krzysztof Urbanski conducts. Pavilion tickets start at $25; lawn is $10. Thursday, July 10, 8pm. 200 Ravinia Park Road, Highland Park.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Thu May 29 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - June 2014

By Elliot Mandel

To the woman sitting behind me at the symphony who said, "No offense, but you're tall" - I'll try to be shorter next time. If you're sitting behind me at any of these concerts, I apologize in advance.

Chicago Q Ensemble: No Exit
Chicago Q Ensemble is emerging among a groundbreaking crop of chamber ensembles. With its second musical/dramatic production, NO EXIT, Q reimagines the traditional violin-viola-cello trio format as a theatrical concert beyond instruments. As Sartre's classic novel explores hell as other people, Q will examine what happens when Mozart's Divertimento in E-Flat comes in contact with Giacinto Scelsi's String Trio. Tickets are $10; admission is age 18 and older. Sunday, June 1, 8:30pm. Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.

NO EXIT from Chicago Q Ensemble on Vimeo.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Fri May 02 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - May 2014

By Elliot Mandel

Adventures in new music this month. Three hometown ensembles present three vastly different approaches; go hear something unfamiliar and exotic!

Chicago Composers Orchestra: Deep Listening
The far-reaching CCO closes its fourth season with music by some of the top female American composers of our time. In Four Meditations for Orchestra, Pauline Oliveros focuses on heightened awareness of sound and silence as the musicians of the orchestra improvise without a conductor. Olivia Block's Voyager Golden Record explores the world of sound design — white noise, indecipherable voices, and tape loops. Marita Bolles incorporates varying and overlapping tempos in In Due Time from individual pulses to expanded rhythms. Composer/performer Nicole Mitchell's Flight for Freedom weaves jazz, pop, and African elements into a work that celebrates African American figures. Tickets are $15 general, $8 student. Saturday, May 10, 8pm. St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Apr 01 2014

Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy - April 2014

By Elliot Mandel

Love fugues? Dig counterpoint? Get your fix this month as the music of J.S. Bach fills the city. Plus, don't miss a Chicago debut and all five Beethoven cello sonatas.

Chicago Bach Project: St. Matthew Passion
The fourth installment of the Chicago Bach Project returns as acclaimed conductor John Nelson leads Bach's St. Matthew Passion, one of the most loved and stirring sacred works ever written. In this one-night-only engagement, musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera, and Grant Park Orchestra are joined by soloists Nicholas Phan, Stephen Morscheck, Lisette Oropesa, Lawrence Zazzo, Colin Ainsworth, Matthew Brook, and Tobias Greenhalgh. It will be one big night of Bach. Friday, April 11, 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Mar 25 2014

Spektral Quartet Premieres "Mobile Minatures"

By Elliot Mandel

MM-final-square-300x300.jpegYou know that thing when someone's phone rings and it's the same ringtone as your phone so you reach for it but it's not your phone? That's because your ringtone is boring and unoriginal. Get a better one recorded and performed by a real live string quartet this Saturday, March 29 when Spektral Quartet premieres 50+ ringtones composed for your phone. SQ's ambitious "Mobile Miniatures" project — the first of its kind anywhere — features more than 40 of today's leading composers who have written tiny masterpieces to be used as ringtones, alerts, and wake-up alarms. The roster of composers includes such luminaries as Augusta Read Thomas, Nico Muhly, Shulamit Ran, Bernard Rands, Julia Holter, Nicold Mitchell, Tomeka Reid, and David Lang. The interactive concert also features Marcos Balter and Chris Fisher-Lochhead who will compose ringtones live using audience input and projected on the walls. In addition to the live performance of all the Mobile Miniatures, the pieces will be available for download and ticket holders receive five free ringtones of their choice for free. Get rid of boring ringtones and bring the world of new classical music to your phone (and to everyone else within earshot).

Spektral Quartet performs "Mobile Minatures" on Saturday, March 29, 8:30pm at Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave.). The $15 cover includes five free ringtones.

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Classical Wed Feb 26 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - March 2014

By Elliot Mandel

Big names and big works come to town this month in formats small and large. From Bach and Beethoven to Bruckner, hear music that celebrates every bit of life.

Murray Perahia
A towering figure among concert pianists of the last 40 years, Murray Perahia has performed on every major stage and with every major orchestra in the world. Don't miss his intimate recital at Northwestern's Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. The program includes Bach's French Suite No. 4, Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata, and various works by Chopin. Tickets are $22 general, $10 students. Sunday, March 2, 7:30pm. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Mon Feb 03 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - February 2014

By Elliot Mandel

This month's column is dedicated to the memory of Deborah Sobol, a pioneering champion of the arts who believed that music is as essential to living as air and water. Her vision was limitless, her energy infectious. She was a friend, colleague, mentor, teacher, and advocate for countless musicians, students, and arts professionals around the city. Debbie changed the classical music experience in Chicago and her legacy will be heard for years to come. No doubt she now has a front row seat watching Brahms and Schubert perform piano music for four hands. In Debbie's memory, here are some of her favorite ensembles appearing in Chicago this month.

Chicago Chamber Musicians
Oboist Anne Bach replaces Alex Klein and joins brass and woodwind members of CCM in a beautiful program of music by Mozart and Mahler, and recent works by Stacy Garrop and James Stephansom. Tickets are $35 - $45; students $10. 7:30pm. Sunday, February 9, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston. Monday, February 10, Gottlieb Hall, Merit School of Music, 38 S. Peoria St., Chicago.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Wed Jan 08 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - January 2014

By Elliot Mandel

Yes, it's cold. Put on the big furry hat and go hear some stellar small ensembles this month.

Schola Antiqua of Chicago
In this sacred season of high-stakes football, one will surely hear every quarterback and wide receiver thank his divine maker for bringing victory at the expense of the faithless opponent. But back in the 13th Century, B.E. (before ESPN), an "athlete" referred to a "champion of Jesus," as is the case of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Hear Chicago's acclaimed early music vocalists perform songs from Medieval England that celebrate the martyred Becket. Schola Antiqua's concerts are always historically informed by its expert director, Michael Alan Anderson, and the singing is a musically fulfilling experience. Miley Cyrus performs at intermission.* Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for students. Friday, January 10, 7:30 p.m. Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn, Chicago. Saturday, January 11, 8pm. St. Clement Church, 642 W. Deming Place.

*not confirmed

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Thomas Becket getting tackled

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Feature Tue Dec 10 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - December 2013

By Elliot Mandel

'Tis the season for long underwear and glögg. And bars with fireplaces. And brass. Lots of brass.

Dame Myra Hess Concert Series
If you find yourself hankering for brass music this time of year, get a taste of something beyond traditional. The adventurous Gaudete Brass Quintet explores the breadth of brass repertoire in a program that alternates between contemporary and Renaissance composers, including Jonathan Newman's Chicago-inspired "Prayers of Steel." Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Follow that with the lush Brahms Piano Trio No. 2 and Piazzolla's "Spring" from his Four Seasons of Buenos Aires as violinist David Bowlin, cellist Si-Yan Darren Li, and pianist Spencer Myer set up under the Tiffany dome. Wednesday, Dec. 18.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Wed Nov 06 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - November 2013

By Elliot Mandel

Before you overdo it at Thanksgiving (you know you will), fill up on these small-format concerts. Hear familiar and new music while getting right up close to some of Chicago's finest ensembles. Then pass the pie.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Review Sat Oct 05 2013

Ólafur Arnalds @ Constellation 10/03

Thursday in Chicago was an introspective day. The sky was an ominous shade of grey and a thick fog filled the air. As the day progressed, it started to rain. The city found itself temporarily transformed by the weather into a state of melancholy. It was the perfect weather to experience Ólafur Arnalds and his fantastic set of ambient modern classical.

Ólafur Arnalds played two sets on Thursday at the new jazz club, Constellation. I saw the later show at 9pm. Constellation opened in April on Western Avenue on the edge of Roscoe Village taking the space of the former Viaduct Theater. Founded by local jazz stalwart, Mike Reed, Constellation has taken on the mission of "present[ing] progressive performance and forward-thinking music with a focus on jazz, improvisation and contemporary classical." It's a really nice looking place and they're already booked an impressive lineup ranging from the aggressively avant-garde Peter Brötzmann to the master percussionist Hamid Drake.

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The room in which we saw Ólafur Arnalds perform was a small minimalist area that embodied a sense of warmth and belonging. At one point during his set, Arnalds commented on this saying something to the point of, "It feels like I'm playing a private concert in the living room of my house. I do that for friends." He then smirked and further commented with his subtle wit, "It almost doesn't feel like you paid money to see me," before starting to play the baroque "Brim."

On stage, Ólafur was accompanied by a trio of musicians; vocalist Arnór Dan, violinist Viktor Orri Árnason and cellist Rubin Kodheli. Arnalds played the piano and handled sound manipulation with his assortment of devices. They played a set that leaned heavily towards the recently released album, For Now I Am Winter. Pieces like the aforementioned "Brim," and the Steve Reich inspired "New Skin" came alive with a sort of creative kineticism.

About halfway through the set, violinist Viktor Orri Árnason, performed an exhilarating and highly emotive solo. He played so intensely, his bow started to fracture yet he continued on and finished his performance. It was breathtaking. Afterwards, Ólafur commented with his subtle and charming wit, "Well...I guess I have to buy him a new bow."

He ended his set with a tribute to his grandmother, "Lag Fyrir Ömmu," a beautiful and haunting minimalist piece for piano and violin. "I owe my love of Chopin and all things non death-metal to her," he said before he began to play. As the piece reached its crescendo, an unseen violin suddenly played at the same intensity in tandem with the piano before both instruments slowly winded down to silence. The performance as a whole was a beautiful reminder of the subtle joys and subtle sorrows that life can sometimes provide.

Justin Freeman / Comments (0)

Classical Wed Oct 02 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - October 2013

By Elliot Mandel

I'm on Twitter now, kids. Somehow, the world didn't end. @Cello_guy

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Sep 10 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - September 2013

By Elliot Mandel

If you're like me, you could hear a month's worth of music during the nine-day Beethoven Festival and still want more. Fortunately, you can. It's gonna be a great month.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Mon Aug 12 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2013

By Elliot Mandel

As the big festivals continue to roll through town, some wonderfully intimate performances take place this month. Three recitals highlight overshadowed instruments and their diverse repertoire. The best part: you can see all three concerts for just $10.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Mon Jul 08 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - July 2013

By Elliot Mandel

Some of Chicago's longest running concert series are also the least expensive. Save your money this month and check out these free concerts in some architecturally and acoustically beautiful spaces.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Feature Tue Jun 04 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - June 2013

By Elliot Mandel

I love a grand concert hall — and Chicago has some good ones — but this month, the classical scene offers some alternative ways to experience the music from a different perspective: Tchaikovsky under the stars, intimate chamber music in the early evening, and contemporary music across from the City of Chicago Fleet Management Facility. Even if the weather never warms up, it will be a great summer.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Mon May 06 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - May 2013

By Elliot Mandel

In memory of the great Janos Starker, watch this pure musician do his thing:

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Thu Apr 04 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - April 2013

By Elliot Mandel

As Argentina has found itself in the news recently, it's a fitting coincidence that several programs this month celebrate the country's significant contributions to music while reflecting on a complicated and painful history. In the center of this flurry of programs is the great tango composer Astor Piazzolla, whose music bridges the worlds of Bach and the bandoneón.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Tue Mar 05 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - March 2013

By Elliot Mandel

Sure, I love the big symphonies, but in no other form can you see the music work than in chamber playing. Designed for intimate spaces and played among friends, chamber music began in a user-friendly format. After 200 years of chamber music writing, the best way to experience a performance is up close. Three concerts this month show off the variety of chamber forms and the limitless possibilities of the music. So get a seat down front.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Thu Feb 07 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - February 2013

By Elliot Mandel

Edgar Allen Poe lived — and died — in Baltimore. The Baltimore Ravens are named after Poe's famous poem. To celebrate the Ravens winning the Super Bowl, check out Chicago Opera Theater's production of The Fall of the House of Usher. My prediction: it will scare the bejesus out of you, but there won't be any confetti.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (2)

Classical Thu Jan 03 2013

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - January 2013

By Elliot Mandel

The range of concerts this month guarantees that you will start 2013 by 1) hearing something you've never heard before, or 2) experiencing an old favorite performed with new energy — likely on the same program. See them all, or close your eyes and pick one. You won't go wrong.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Mon Dec 03 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - December 2012

By Elliot Mandel

Take a breather from all the running around this month and check out some unusual performances. Tickets are affordable, so you still have enough cash to drop in the Apple store. Happy Whatever!

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Thu Nov 01 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - November 2012

Plenty of great music this month, but my favorites happen within a five-day span. Just like Thanksgiving, there is something for everyone — you can even bring booze.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (1)

Classical Thu Oct 04 2012

Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy - October 2012

By Elliot Mandel

The CSO musicians' strike is over, the Cubs lost 101 games, and this
column celebrates its 1-year anniversary — how to celebrate? Go hear some music.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Thu Aug 30 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - September 2012

By Elliot Mandel

Music is like drugs — really, it's science — and if you're like me, you're itching for concert season to start up again. Luckily, it's September and your options are plentiful. Head to Millennium Park for one last outdoor hurrah, or have the elevator operator take you to the eighth floor of the Fine Arts Building. A woman on the Lawrence bus once told me "Bach is better than Xanax," and who am I to argue?

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Concert Tue Aug 14 2012

Opera for the Masses

By Robert O'Connor

Opera is not the most accessible or popular art form, which is too bad, since its creators intended it to appeal to everyone. Its power is lost on most audiences since it is usually in a language they don't know, and tickets for just one concert at the Lyric Opera can cost as much as $200.

The American Chamber Opera, based in Chicago, is trying to change that, with productions in English of popular operas for a much lower price. It started its season last weekend with a performance of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni.

The ACO performs the opera in the Sanctuary of the Chicago Temple Building, without a set or props. They use the space effectively, with characters walking down the aisle, entering in the back and hiding under the front pew.

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Review Mon Aug 13 2012

The Smallest, Craziest Weekend Fest You Didn't Go To

By Timothy A. Schuler

The sun was still high and traffic on Western Avenue still thick, yet the Empty Bottle was filling up, octogenarians clumping around the few tall tables, millennials ordering pints of Green Line from the cash-only bar. By 4:50pm, when 98.7s WFMT's Relevant Tones program went live from the stage, the venue was nearing the capacity of a Friday night punk show.

Despite the club's 20 years bringing noteworthy bands to Ukrainian Village, this was the first live radio broadcast from the Empty Bottle, though it'll be a surprise if this doesn't plant a seed or two in the heads of other Chicago producers. The Thirsty Ear Festival, hosted by Relevant Tones' Seth Boustead, a Chicago composer and founder of education and advocacy group Access Contemporary Music (ACM), was, judging by the performances and the crowd's response and Boustead's own admission at the close of the show, a huge success. Which means the organizers' goal of making it an annual affair is most likely guaranteed.

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As this city does so well, Thirsty Ear was really a celebration of Chicago. A person connecting the dots of Chicago's classical scene would quickly make an intricate web, and that was evident on Saturday. Not only were performers local, but so were many of the featured composers. Everything the Chicago Q Ensemble played was written by a Chicagoan. The Maverick Ensemble's Jason Raynovich slipped an original into the program, as did Boustead actually. Clarinetist James Falzone's set was a single, self-authored composed improvisation (more on that paradox in a minute). And the finale — the Boustead piece — also celebrated contemporary Chicago through visual art. "Three for Zhou B." is a three-part rumination on a trio of paintings done by Bridgeport artists Shan Zuo and DaHuang Zhou.

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Preview Thu Aug 09 2012

Preview: Thirsty Ear Festival @ Empty Bottle, 8/11

By Timothy A. Schuler

If a person camped out at the Empty Bottle for seven nights straight, they'd almost be guaranteed to see seven shows that shared nothing but the same small, corner stage. It's a venue known for its eclectic taste and a bent toward the fiercely independent, and yet on Saturday it will open its doors for an event that will be somewhat of an outlier to its already fantastically peppered scatter-plot and will make Empty Bottle history.

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The Thirsty Ear Festival, from 5pm to 7pm on Saturday, will be a showcase of contemporary classical music, featuring four Chicago-based groups, including the MAVerick Ensemble, James Falzone, Palomar, and the Chicago Q Ensemble. Organized by Seth Boustead, the executive director of Chicago non-profit Access Contemporary Music and host of WFMT 98.7 FM's Relevant Tones program, the "festival" will also be the first concert ever broadcast live from the Bottle.

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Classical Mon Jul 30 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2012

By Elliot Mandel

August: the dog days. As major music ensembles gear up for the next season, the Grant Park Music Festival and Rush Hour Concerts forge through the late summer heat with a final month of great concerts and intriguing programs. It's all free, so check out the schedule and these selected shows.

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Classical Mon Jul 30 2012

Lyric Shorts Preview: Opera Highlights at Rush Hour

By Elliot Mandel

Ah, the opera: the only art form based entirely on love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge — and that's just the comedies. For example: the wealthy, old Don Pasquale wants his nephew, Ernesto, to marry a rich woman. Ernesto would rather marry a poor widow, and Pasquale gets mad. So he kicks Ernesto out of the house and decides to marry Ernesto's friend's sister instead — all the makings of a scandal in any era.

Lyric Opera of Chicago is performing Gaetano Donizetti's "Don Pasquale" during the upcoming 2012-13 season, but you can hear the highlights this Tuesday, July 31 during Lyric Shorts, the new partnership between the Lyric and Rush Hour Concerts. Singers from Lyric's Ryan Opera Center will perform excerpts from the opera during Rush Hour's regular Tuesday evening 30-minute concert. Dramaturg, lecturer, and all-around opera guy Roger Pines will introduce each piece and discuss the opera's characters and history.

The singers come from the Ryan Opera Center, the Lyric's training wing for talented young artists about to embark on international careers. Performers for Lyric Shorts are soprano Emily Birsan; tenor Bernard Holcomb; baritone Joseph Lim; and bass-baritone David Govertsen. Craig Terry will accompany on piano.

While there is no substitute for seeing a grand production surrounded by the Art Deco opulence of the Civic Opera Building, the bright acoustics of St. James Cathedral and late 1880s stenciled decor make for a very comfortable atmosphere. If you love opera, Lyric Shorts will get you excited about the next season. If you've never seen an opera, this is a great way to get a taste. And, because it's Rush Hour, the concert is free.

Lyric Shorts takes place Tuesday, July 31 at St. James Cathedral on the corner of Huron and Wabash. Doors and pre-concert reception at 5:15pm; the 30-minute concert begins at 5:45pm.

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Classical Tue Jul 03 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - July 2012

By Elliot Mandel

Fun fact: The 1812 Overture, which you will hear on the Fourth of July, was written by a Russian (Tchaikovsky) to celebrate Russia's defeat of Napoleon at Moscow. The Overture begins with a Russian Orthodox hymn and includes the Russian national anthem, God Save the Czar; the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, is very clearly blown to smithereens. The Overture entered the American patriotic songbook in 1974 as a brilliant publicity stunt by Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, and cannon fire in classical music was here to stay, if only for one performance a year. For other musical offerings in July, see below.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (1)

Classical Thu Jun 14 2012

See the CSO - for free!

by Elliot Mandel

Want to get a behind-the-scenes look at a great orchestra? The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Riccardo Muti (last seen at Wrigley Field) are holding a rare open rehearsal during Make Music Chicago. Watch the CSO rehearse Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 in preparation for its final concert series of the year. The open rehearsal is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved by calling (312) 294-3000.

Catch the CSO's free rehearsal on Thursday, June 21 from 10am-12:30pm at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

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Classical Thu Jun 07 2012

Review: Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet @ St. James Cathedral 6/5/12

by Elliot Mandel

Standing at the back of the nave of St. James Cathedral, Chicago Symphony Orchestra trumpeters Christopher Martin and Tage Larsen heralded a new season of Rush Hour concerts Tuesday evening, belting out Jean-Baptiste Lully's March Royale with pinpoint articulation and bell-like incantation. Sitting once again under J. Neville Stent's stenciled patterns of the cathedral's Arts-and-Crafts ceiling, one is reminded just how good a deal this is: 30 minutes of free music from some of the best musicians in town.

Rush Hour Concerts at St. James Cathedral, photo by Colin Knapp courtesy of Rush Hour Concerts.jpeg
Photo by Colin Knapp/Rush Hour Concerts


Martin and Larsen joined their CSO colleagues — hornist David Griffin, trombonist Michael Mulcahy, and tubist Gene Pokorny — onstage to complete the brass quintet for J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in C Major. Bach's knack for making any instrument sound like an organ was easily apparent as the quintet's volume rose with each fugal riff. The cathedral worked against the low brass, the live acoustics muddling Pokorny's solo passages; but with the entire ensemble, the high ceiling amplified the sound which was likely to be heard by passersby outside.

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Classical Mon Jun 04 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - June 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?

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (2)

Classical Thu May 03 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - May 2012

by Elliot Mandel

A raucous band of cellos. A tuba concerto. A double bass concerto. May is Low Register Month (you didn't know?), and the deep-voiced instruments are full of surprises and rare appearances. Plus, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra kicks off its Keys to the City piano festival. If you survive the NATO summit and Mother's Day Brunch, come back for June.

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Concert Wed Apr 25 2012

Ravinia Tickets on Sale Thursday -- with a New App to Find Friends

Aqueduct_Ravinia_Al_Green_Artist_Details-small.jpgTickets for the 2012 season at the Ravinia Festival go on sale Thursday, April 26. Offering up a near-nightly soundtrack to Chicago summers since 1904, this will be the first year you can use a special Ravinia smartphone app not only for your purchase, but also for connecting with friends while attending a show. If you have never been to a concert at Ravinia (located north of Chicago in Highland Park), there are two seating options: a reserved seat under the pavilion (with views of the stage) or a GA lawn ticket which is generally under $20 for most shows, with no sight of the stage. The benefits of a lawn seat are many, besides the lower price. First, you can picnic (with alcohol) on a blanket under the stars or beneath some of the ancient leafy trees on the site. Secondly, you can corral all of your friends together for an outing where everybody gets to enjoy some cheese, wine, and music in the fine summer weather. The "corralling" however, is the tricky part, especially given Ravinia's lack of distinct landmarks besides "right" "left" and "tree." Typically, there's a lot of people standing up with their cell phones clutched to their ears and waving with the other arm, that is, until the sun sets.

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Concert Wed Apr 18 2012

Millennium Park Free Summer Concert Lineup

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs announced its free summer concert lineup for The Jay Pritzker Pavilion within Millennium Park. This year we get four series: the electronic and new music heavy Loops and Variations, indie rock star studded Downtown Sound, the classical-leaning Grand Park Music Festival, and Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz.

Downtown Sound

Monday, May 28, 6:30 pm
Kelly Hogan + Scott Lucas and the Married Men

Monday, June 4, 6:30 pm
Jonathan Richman + Joel Paterson and the Modern Sounds

Monday, June 11, 6:30 pm
The Eternals + Wild Belle

Monday, June 18, 6:30 pm
Cloud Cult + Judson Claiborne

Monday, June 25, 6:30 pm
Occidental Brothers Dance Band International + Chico Trujillo

Monday, July 2, 6:30 pm
Joan of Arc + Daniel Knox

Monday, July 9, 6:30 pm
The Sadies + James Vincent McMorrow

Monday, July 16, 6:30 pm
Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires + Abigail Washburn

Monday, July 23, 6:30 pm
Ana Tijoux + Sidi Touré

Monday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.
SMOD + M.A.K.U. Soundsystem

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Jason Olexa / Comments (6)

Classical Fri Apr 06 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - April 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?

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (1)

Classical Thu Mar 01 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - March 2012

By Elliot Mandel

This month, music comes from such far-flung places as Antarctica, South America, and outer space in performances that will be full of visual and sonic surprises. Women composers, long neglected, also get the spotlight, and a Japanese virtuoso will play the best Mozart piano music of the year. So venture out into the misery of March in Chicago; besides, when was the last time you went to the Planetarium?

Hear a great concert recently? Have a tip on an upcoming show? Talk about it in the comments.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (2)

Classical Tue Feb 28 2012

Lampo Presents Keith Fullerton Whitman Sailing on Sine Waves 03/10

keithfullertonwhitman.jpg

Chicago non-profit art collective Lampo opened up free RSVPs for a performance by Kranky recording artist and synth wizard Keith Fullerton Whitman on March 10th at the Graham Foundation's Madlener House. He will be performing the U.S. premier of "Rhythms Naturels" followed by a live modular synth improvisation. Keith performed multiple sets of modular synth dungeons and guitar dragons as part of the 2010 Neon Marshmallow Festival.

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Jason Olexa / Comments (0)

Classical Thu Feb 02 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - February 2012

by Elliot Mandel

February offers mind-bending music and behind-the-scenes access to those who write and perform it. Meet a real live orchestral composer who moonlights as a DJ. Sit in on a rehearsal at Symphony Center or a master class in Evanston. Impress your friends by mentioning "the blackbirds" (really). This month, the boundaries of music are stretched into previously unexplored realms; bring an open mind, but for the love of all that is good and holy, turn off your phone or risk eternal shame.

Hear a great concert recently? Have a tip on an upcoming show? Talk about it in the comments.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (2)

Classical Thu Jan 05 2012

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - January 2012

by Elliot Mandel

Do your 2012 resolutions include hearing more live music? You have a variety of options this month, some of them free, and all of them excellent ways to fight the dark onset of a long Chicago winter. Plus, you can go to Symphony Center for music you are sure to hear during the NFL playoffs.

Note for Philip Glass fans: tickets for his recital on April 1 at the Art Institute go on sale January 5.

Hear a great concert recently? Have a tip on an upcoming show? Talk about it in the comments.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Thu Dec 01 2011

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - December 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.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (0)

Classical Thu Nov 03 2011

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - November 2011

by Elliot Mandel

Pulling-Strings-500.jpg

England, Austria, Mexico, Bolivia—this month's music comes from faraway places. Whether composed by the Viennese demigods of Beethoven and Brahms, or cultivated among indigenous populations of South America, each piece is rooted in its own time but alive and vibrant among contemporary audiences. Old favorites and rare offerings from touring and local artists promise to make for memorable concerts. Go check them out for something different to discuss over turkey and stuffing.

Hear a great concert recently? Have a tip on an upcoming show? Talk about it in the comments.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (2)

Feature Tue Oct 11 2011

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy

By Elliot Mandel

Pulling-Strings_300.jpgI love October in Chicago: pumpkin ale on tap, no more Cubs games jamming up the Red Line, and classical music returns to stages all over the city. The classical scene in Chicago covers the range of the genre, from the Baroque style of the 1600s to brand new pieces performed on laptops; all of this music can be heard in intimate venues or grand concert halls--and all of it is affordable (and sometimes free). If you love the music like I do, if you've always wanted to attend a performance but needed some direction, or if you just want to know what a harpsichord sounds like, the following is a short list of my recommendations for the month. If you have other suggestions, please add them in the comments.

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Elliot Mandel / Comments (1)

Classical Thu Oct 09 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - October 2014

By Elliot Mandel

"Classical music is dead. Long live classical music!" - The Internet. The lesson: Read less internet. See more music.

Read this feature »

Blogroll

  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
BackStage
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
ChicagoMusic.org
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
CHIRP
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
Daytrotter
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Do312
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
Gridface
The Hood Internet
Innerview
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pitchfork
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Songs:Illinois
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock

  Venues:

Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
B.L.U.E.S
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Constellation
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
FitzGerald's
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Martyrs'
Mayne Stage
Metro
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Rosa's
Schubas
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Smartbar
Subterranean
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Township
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Atavistic
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Hozac
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records


Events

Sat Nov 1 2014
Pianos Become the Teeth @ Beat Kitchen

Sat Nov 1 2014
Freakeasy's Dead Celebrities @ Metro

Sat Nov 1 2014
Songs of Stephanie Morris @ Hideout

Sat Nov 1 2014
Hood Internet @ Double Door

Sat Nov 1 2014
Chicago Ukulele Cabaret @ Silvie's

Mon Nov 3 2014
Blonde Redhead @ Bottom Lounge

Tue Nov 4 2014
Mark Lanegan Band @ Bottom Lounge

Wed Nov 5 2014
Sound Opinions: The Beatles vs. The Stones @ Old Town School of Folk Music

Fri Nov 7 2014
The Tiger Lillies @ Portage Theater

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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Editor: Anne Holub, anne@gapersblock.com
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