Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Musicians remember Holocaust survivor and Highland Park resident Victor Aitay, who performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for more than 50 years. He died last week, at age 91.
"We have lost a legend," begins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's obituary for Victor Aitay, the Highland Park resident and former CSO concertmaster who died last Tuesday. He was 91. Born in Budapest in 1921, Aitay didn't waste any time before jumping into musical training at age 7 when he entered the Franz Liszt Royal Academy, according to the CSO. After receiving an artist's diploma, Aitay became concertmaster of the Hungarian Royal Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra. He also organized the Aitay String Quartet, with which he toured Europe. Though he lost much of his family in the Holocaust, Aitay was one of tens of thousands of Jews who survived because of the efforts of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, according to a 2001 Chicago Tribune…
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
CSOs performs Oscar-winning score.
Ravinia Festival became an outdoor movie theater last week when it screened The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on Thursday and Friday, with live musical accompaniment provided by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lakeside Singers, Chicago Chorale and Chicago Children's Choir. Ludwig Wicki conducted the orchestra for the performances. Howard Shore wrote the film's Academy Award-winning score. Doug Adams, author of the book The Music of the Lord of the Rings, was on hand to sign copies both nights. Check out photos from the performance above.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Performs '5 Shakespeare Sonnets' Song Cycle.
Rufus Wainwright made his debut with the Chicago Syphony Orchestra last Sunday evening at Ravinia. The singer performed his song cycle "5 Shakespeare Sonnets" with the CSO then returned to the stage for a solo set. Before the show, Ravinia put on an instrument petting zoo where children and adults could try out a number of different string, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Kids even got the chance to make their own shakers. Ravinia offers the event several times throughout the concert season during Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances.
Friday, August 19, 2011
The Five Browns, CSO, perform Muhly’s work on five pianos.
A piano concerto is a staple of classical music, but one written for five pianos commissioned specifically by the Ravinia Festival for Tuesday’s performance of the Five Browns is a rare event. The Five Browns are unique enough. The five siblings—Ryan, Melody, Gregory, Deondra and Desirae—between 25 and 32, are making a concerted effort together to introduce classical music to a younger generation. Adding to the unusual evening was the presence of composer Nico Muhly. Classical composers are few and far between today, but like the Five Browns, the 29-year-old wants to put his touch on the efforts of past masters. The evening began with two pieces—Selections from the Planets by Gustav Holst and Camille Saint-Saens Danse Macabre—played …
Thursday, August 18, 2011
As if the movie wasn't epic enough, it now has live musical accompaniment.
As if The Lord of the Rings isn’t epic enough, Ravinia Festival will be taking the J.R.R. Tolkien experience one step further Thursday and Friday. Part of the ongoing celebration of its 75th annual summer residency at Ravinia, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform the film score live as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is projected on two large screens on the lawn and pavilion stage. Nick Pullia, Ravinia’s Director of Communications, said the CSO, led by conductor Ludwig Wicki, would remain faithful to Howard Shore’s original Oscar-winning score. Pullia predicted that it would be a “haunting experience.” “It’s amazing to watch a classic film you know and love, but hear the music played live by a beautifully talented…
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular spurs standing ovation from crowd at Highland Park venue.
Cannons punctuating Peter Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture made the most noise at Sunday’s annual Ravinia Tchaikovsky Spectacular, but violinist Miriam Fried got the loudest cheers when the crowd rose to its feet after her performance of the Russian master’s violin concerto. The afternoon started with Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, the last piece of music the composer ever wrote nine days before his death in 1893. Fried then delighted the audience with her solos throughout the concerto before the finale of the famous overture. Read More: Teachers Turn Performers to Treat Ravinia Audience. Playing without the sheet music and most of the time with her eyes closed, Fried began playing the initial haunting tones as they seemed to emanate from her…
Ravinia makes overtures to encourage student attendance at CSO concerts.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) performed with a bang last Sunday at Ravinia in Highland Park. The weekend saw the return of the popular all-Tchaikovsky program that concludes with an ear-popping rendition of the 1812 Overture that featured live cannon fire. The CSO is celebrating its 75th year in residency at Ravinia this summer. Conductor James Conlon led the musicians in renditions of several popular Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky numbers concluding with the iconic 1812 Overture. Ravinia on Sunday also held its Cannon Ball 2011, a preconcert celebration featuring fun activities, free food and beverages, and chances to win prizes. The festivity is part of the organization's Classical Youth Initiative, an effort to bring in a …
Friday, July 22, 2011
Conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi and pianist Emanuel Ax bring veteran flavor to Ravinia.
Versatility could be heard throughout an evening of Johannes Brahms’ music Thursday night at Ravinia. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) displayed its legendary flexibility by showing the intensity of Brahms "Piano Concerto No. 1" and the musical flow of the German composer’s "Second Symphony." Guest conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi, making his first Ravinia appearance since his 2004 debut, snatched the orchestra’s attention to lead it to a performance that evoked a standing ovation after both pieces. Though this was just Dohnanyi’s second local performance, the 81-year-old maestro was given his first conducting job as an assistant at the Frankfurt Opera more than 50 years ago by Sir Georg Solti, the CSO’s iconic music director from …
Monday, July 11, 2011
Conductor Christoph Eschenbach energizes crowd with Liszt's masterful classics.
Pianist Andre Watts was the headliner at Friday’s Ravinia Festival concert, but many in the audience came to hear ChristophEschenbach conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Watts delighted the audience with his solo performance of Franz Liszt’s A Sigh as well as joining the symphony to play Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. He exuded technique and passion in abundance and the response was a thunderous ovation. Even Watts’ enthusiasm took a back seat when Eschenbach picked up his baton to lead the orchestra in The Rite of Spring. “It was brilliant. To be able to hear the world’s greatest orchestra play the Rite of Spring is just beyond words,” said Jeff Schweitzer, who flew to Chicago …
Friday, July 8, 2011
Prodigy who launched to stardom on Ravinia’s stage returned Thursday.
World renowned pianist Lang Lang was simultaneously fused to his music and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the symphony’s opening night Thursday at Ravinia Festival. Opening in a nearly full Pavilion with Frederic Chopin’s Adante spinato and Grande polonaise brillante and then playing Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, the 29-year-old Lang performed like he owned the pieces as he has for the last 12 Ravinia seasons. “He was at one with the music,” David Goldstein of Denver said. “He just passed from one note to another.” “His hands are like butterflies,” added Jamie Buzil, explaining why she quickly stood with most of the audience for a standing ovation after Lang finished playing. Ravinia’s stage propelled Lang to stardom in …