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Blue Heron (surely one of the prettiest names in classical music) is a Boston-based early music ensemble established in 1999 and this year’s Don Michael Randel ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago. On Friday night, Jan. 27, they gave a concert at Rockefeller Chapel celebrating …

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University of Chicago Presents has begun the new year in style. The first concert of 2023 featured young cello sensation Zlatomir Fung along with seasoned pianist Benjamin Hochman. Together they escorted their audience on a journey through examples of Slavic music, most of which were little-…

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Composer Tan Dun, born in Hunan, China in 1957, went from cultivating rice to joining an opera troupe. From there his ascent crossed both national and musical boundaries. He studied music in Beijing and later at Columbia University in New York City. His music is most striking for its combina…

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Randall Harlow has been described as a performer-scholar. As a performer, he’s a specialist in contemporary music and has given many world premiere performances and regularly records for various labels. As a scholar, he was recently awarded a Fulbright Global Scholar fellowship and was the f…

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In 1997 violinist Rachel Barton Pine recorded a path-breaking CD titled “Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries.” It was released by Chicago-based Cedille Records and for many listeners it was their first exposure to music by composers such as the Chevalier de Saint-George…

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“Cavalleria Rusticana” is a one-act opera first performed in 1890 that immediately captivated audiences with its simple yet relatable story and tragic conclusion, all stemming from jealousy. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s own recording label, CSO Resound, has released a recording of Pietro…

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December always comes with lots of holiday concerts to choose from. The most delightful Christmas concert I’ve attended in some time took place last Friday night, Dec. 16 in St. Michael Church in the Old Town neighborhood. The program, Music of the Baroque (MOB), offered a full evening of ce…

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The organ, as an instrument, is a chameleon. It can mimic the sound of an individual instrument, like the flute or trumpet, or it can conjure up swirls of many different sounds and become a full orchestra. It can weep or sigh quietly or create a storm of powerful volume and resonance.

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You know why you listen to music. Perhaps for the pleasure of audio art; it keeps you moving when you exercise; or you need it to keep you awake while driving. There are profound and mundane reasons we turn to music. But why do composers write music? I think that’s an interesting question an…

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Now that Thanksgiving is over and even the turkey leftovers are finished, it is time to look forward to the holiday music season. Chicago has long had a feast of musical offerings in December and this year is no different.

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In 1924, Polish composer Karol Szymanowski completed what many consider to be his magnum opus. Ninety-eight years later, “King Roger,” a compact opera sprawling with big ideas, made its local debut last week with two performances  produced by the Chicago Opera Theater. 

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Within a few days of each other, Lyric Opera of Chicago has introduced two new opera productions — a historical tragedy and a comic romp — which have one important thing in common: both are marvelously cast with the principal singers offering sensational performances. Verdi’s “Don Carlos” an…

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Sometimes it is an unusual grouping of musical works that captures your attention and you think, “I should give that a listen.” And so it was with an overture by Wagner, a concerto by Bartok and a symphony by Vaughn Williams that I traveled downtown to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CS…

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The Newberry Consort opened its 2022–23 Hyde Park season Saturday night, Oct. 29 with a glorious concert at Congregation Rodfei Zedek, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd., celebrating the life of Madama Europa, a singer at the Gonzaga Court. Known also as Madama Europa di Rossi, she was the sister of co…

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Minnesota-born pianist Evren Ozel recently performed as part of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, offering a lunchtime recital at the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist. His early October concert was about as wide-ranging as a 45-minute performance can be, with music by Johann…

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I have often said that William Grant Still (1895-1978) is the greatest American composer you’ve never heard of. So, it was with excitement that I went downtown to the Harris Theater Thursday night, Oct. 13 to hear the Chicago Philharmonic perform Still’s first symphony, known as the “Afro-Am…

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University of Chicago Presents opened its 79th season with a one-two punch. A pair of concerts this past weekend, one Saturday night at the Logan Center and one Sunday afternoon at Mandel Hall, got the season off to an auspicious start.

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The Hyde Park Jazz Festival, back in full last weekend on the Midway Plaisance and across the neighborhood, has long had the distinction of being one of the few jazz festivals in the city with a plywood dance floor. Alas, there was no dance floor this year, but it didn't stop the attendees f…

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Riccardo Muti, an active musician since 1963 and one who has stood on the podium for orchestral and operatic performances throughout Europe and the U.S., is now embarking on his farewell season as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Last Thursday, September 22, the 81-year-old …

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Saturday night was unusual at Lyric Opera of Chicago. After opening its 68th season with Verdi’s “Ernani” eight days earlier, Lyric swerved sharply away from opera, introducing as its second production of the season the popular musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

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Many Victor Hugo stories have lived vibrant new lives in other forms. “Les Misérables”, for example, is a tremendously popular musical. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” has been made into a film several times. Hugo’s play “Hernani” also lives in another form; it is the basis for the early Verdi…

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Sunday night, August 21, was a perfect late summer evening: pleasantly warm with soft breezes and only slightly overcast. It was a great night to spend at an outdoor concert and Lyric Opera of Chicago used the evening to introduce Chicagoans to some of the music from many upcoming production…

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“To err is human, to forgive divine” is an aphorism easy to accept but difficult to practice. Forgiveness rather than retribution has the power to allow healing and reconciliation. Yet both in politics and in personal life, forgiveness can be exceedingly difficult to offer. 

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Augusta Holmès (1847–1903) was a French composer with Irish parents who spent her life in Paris. Her mother disapproved of her musical interests, and it wasn’t until age 11, when her mother died, that Holmès was allowed to study music. She once described her struggle to become a serious comp…

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Last Friday night at International House, 1414 E. 59th St.,  soprano Michelle Areyzaga seemed to float into a chat I was having with other audience members during the intermission of the Chicago Ensemble’s fifth and final concert of the season. As several of us were wondering why this concer…

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Folks who enjoy piano recitals know that there is always an extra dollop of excitement when the program is for “piano fourhands.” Two musicians at one piano means twice as many fingers on the keyboard, twice as many feet to depress the pedals, and half as much real estate on the bench.

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The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus are reliable and popular performers, so you can count on good-sized crowds at their concerts — except when Mother Nature intervenes. Friday night’s concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park had a much smaller audience than usual because it had be…

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This is the time of year when a walk around Hyde Park offers you blooms in profusion, sometimes even a flower or two you’ve never seen before. The latest Rush Hour concert, a free summer concert series produced by the International Music Foundation — the same folks who administer the Dame My…

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Summertime brings us the outdoor concert, and the Grant Park Music Festival brought the music to Hyde Park on Thursday, June 30, with a free performance by the Project Inclusion String Quartet in Nichols Park. A good-sized crowd had formed well before the music started.

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The Chosen Few Festival and Picnic made a triumphant return to Jackson Park on July 2 after two years of COVID-19 cancellations. Thirty thousand people gathered to dance and lounge on lawn chairs at what organizers call “the Woodstock of house music.”

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Joseph Bologne (1745–99) was a man of remarkable and wide-ranging achievements. He was considered to be the greatest fencer in France, served as an officer of the King’s Bodyguard and was made a chevalier (knight), being known thereafter as the Chevalier Saint-Georges. Bologne excelled as a …

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Back in 1989, Jim Ginsburg, a recent University of Chicago graduate and the son of then-federal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began law school. A few years later, Ginsburg gave up his studies to devote his time to Cedille Records, a new classical recording company he founded in Hyde Park. 

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The South Side’s premier classical music presenter ended its 2021–22 season earlier this month with two memorable concerts. University of Chicago Presents (UCP) closed out the performing year with the final installment in the Sound/Sites series and followed that a few days later with an earl…

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The South Side’s premier classical music presenter ended its 2021–22 season earlier this month with two memorable concerts. University of Chicago Presents (UCP) closed out the performing year with the final installment in the Sound/Sites series and followed that a few days later with an earl…

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The Century of Progress International Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, took place from 1933 to 1934 and changed the life of composer Florence Price. It was for this international event that her first symphony was selected as one of the works for a celebratory Chicago Symph…

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Chicago Opera Theater’s latest world premiere is a fascinating look at a mostly unknown corner of British American history. During the American Revolutionary War, the British offered emancipation, transportation to another British dominion and a pension for slaves who would fight with the Br…

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There was anticipation in the air Saturday night at International House here in Hyde Park as a substantial audience formed to hear the Newberry Consort. There was also a warm and sunny feeling among the crowd. They had gathered knowing that this would be the last Hyde Park concert for David …

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Although Hyde Park is several miles from the Loop, Chicago’s city center, it is one of our metropolitan area’s premier locations of classical music. This is in large measure due to the University of Chicago, which offers a wide range of high-quality musical performances, from world-class pro…

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Thursday night was the Chicago premiere of one of the most anticipated new operas in years. “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” with music by Terence Blanchard and libretto by Kasi Lemmons, based on the memoir of the same name by New York Times columnist and Black News Channel anchor Charles M. Blow…

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The Korngold Rediscovered festival, held by the University of Chicago in partnership with Folks Operetta, offered the North American premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s opera “Die Kathrin” on Thursday night at the Logan Center Performance Hall.

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“Korngold Rediscovered” is a ten-day festival celebrating the life and work of composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold, currently underway at the University of Chicago. Concluding on April 10, the festival features concerts, lectures, a film screening, a scholarly symposium and the North American p…

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Now that COVID-19 is at last loosening its grip on cultural performances, more and more organizations are returning to live events with in-house audiences. PianoForte, on Michigan Avenue just south of the Loop, resumed live concerts with audiences last week and I was delighted to catch a sup…

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“Tosca” premiered in January of 1900, ushering in a new century. It has become one of the most-loved, most-performed operas in the canon. Puccini based his work on the play “La Tosca,” which was written as a vehicle for the talented Sarah Bernhardt.

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Arriving at the Performance Hall at the Logan Center on Friday night, you could feel the anticipation in the air. The generous, open lobby was full of smiling folks, including those greeting you, providing you with tickets at the pick-up table, and those patient and helpful people taking a g…