Varied lineup with Conlon at Ravinia
Lake Cook and Green Bay roads, Highland Park
Tickets can be ordered at www.ravinia.org or (847) 266-5100
Updated: July 17, 2012 8:58PM
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been on the pavilion stage of the Ravinia Festival since the Fourth of July. But music director James Conlon does not arrive until Thursday, July 19, when 10 symphony players will join him in the 850 seat Martin Theatre for the American premiere of Kurt Weill’s “Magical Night.”
The work premiered in Berlin in 1922, but the score was lost for decades and was only found in 2006, misfiled in the Yale University Library. On stage will be pantomime artists T. Daniel and Laurie Willets of T. Daniel Productions and soprano Janai Brugger to recreate Weill’s fantastical story of a brother and sister on the night their toys came to life.
Kurt Weill, who fled Nazi Germany in 1933, is one of the composers that Conlon chose for his ongoing “Breaking the Silence” series at Ravinia, highlighting composers whose careers were damaged or cut short by the Holocaust.
Another such composer is Hungarian Franz Schreker, who died of a stroke after brutal harassment by the Nazi regime. His “The Wind” for clarinet, horn, violin, cello and piano is also on the July 19 program.
Conlon will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the festival’s Gala Benefit Evening at 7 p.m. Saturday July 21 in the pavilion. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Board of the Ravinia Festival, the program is titled “Leading Ladies’ and features soprano Patricia Racette, singing works by Puccini, Dvorak and Catalani, and Broadway singer Patti LuPone, a festival favorite, in music by Webber, Rodgers and Styne. There will be no intermission.
The gala raises funds for Ravinia’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY eduction program.
Conlon will lead the CSO string players in the Martin Theatre at 8 a.m. July 23. The program includes Bach’s Bandenburg
Concerto No. 6 and Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-Flat. Soprano Rachel Schutz will join the musicians in “Maiblumen bluhten uberall” by Zemlinsky, another composer in the music director’s “Breaking the Silence” series.
Then will follow three CSO concerts in the pavilion: July 25 with popular violinest Joshua Bell as soloist in the Barber Violin Concerto; an Orchestra Showcase July 26, with music by Berlioz, Verdi, Dvorak, Mendelssohn and Rossini, and an all-Tchaikovsky program on July 29, including the “1812” Festival Overture, with live cannons, and the composer’s First Piano Concerto with Denis Matsuev as soloist.
That completes Conlon’s first weeks at Ravinia. He returns to the pavilion Aug. 7 to conduct the Chicago Symphony in an all-French evening with Jean Yves Thibaudet playing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G and his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.
Yefim Bronfman will play Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Chicago Symphony under Conlon’s baton on Aug. 8.
Every other year since 2008, Conlon has presented two semi-staged performances each of two Mozart operas in the Martin Theatre with musicians from the Chicago Symphony. This year “The Magic Flute” will be Aug. 16 and 18, and “Idomeneo” Aug. 17 and 19, with actor Michael York as narrator for both.
Conlon’s final appearance this season will be Aug. 20 in the Martin with soloists from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing Louis Spohr’s Nonet and Franz Schubert’s Octet.
All the maestro’s presentations feature Chicago Symphony musicians, but this is the first season that Conlon’s seven Martin Theatre programs have outnumbered his six pavilion concerts.