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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…

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It was a long two years between performances for pianist Gerald Rizzer and his colleagues at International House on the University of Chicago campus. When the 45th season of the Chicago Ensemble kicked off earlier this month, it was with a sense of relief and pleasure that Hyde Parkers gathe…

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Joseph Bologne (1745–1799) was a remarkable man. Classical music enthusiasts know him as a virtuoso violinist, esteemed conductor and composer of chamber works, symphonies and operas. Aficionados of fencing know him as the greatest fencer in France, winning against established figures one-on…

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Necessity is the mother of invention. The COVID-19 pandemic led music organizations around the world to reconsider how they could continue to perform and connect with audiences when live performances with a live audience was not possible. UChicago Presents devised various ways to keep the mu…

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The atmosphere in the Apostolic Church of God (6320 S. Dorchester Ave.) in Woodlawn was warm and friendly on Friday night as church members and staff were on hand to guide visitors to the sanctuary for a special community event. Riccardo Muti, the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orche…

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Robert Muczynski has been described as “the most frequently-performed composer whose music is never discussed” by Walter Simmons. In an essay on Muczynski (1929–2010), Simmons begins by naming one of the composer’s most enduring pieces, his 1961 Flute Sonata, which was on the program of a re…

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Two popular classical music stars have joined forces in a recording of American music that lifts the spirits and simultaneously celebrates exceptional women. “Unexpected Shadows” pairs the music of Jake Heggie with the exceptional mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. Heggie himself is the pianist, an…

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This is the time of year, with concerts scarce on the ground while musicians share holiday time with friends and family, that I turn to new recordings for musical inspiration. A new CD by Chicago-based soprano Michelle Areyzaga and pianist Dana Brown was the perfect tonic as I stayed inside …

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One of the most interesting unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the classical music and opera world is the rise of the new music video. Before 2020, only a relatively few large organizations were well known for producing video options for the public, the Metropolitan Opera an…

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Hannu Lintu — a conductor who leads symphonies, operas and ballet — was the guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of “Serenades” by Magnus Lindberg. There was something special in the air as these two Finns joined forces for an evening of fascinating music.

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Ballet has “The Nutcracker.” Theater has “A Christmas Carol.” But there is no evergreen Christmas opera. Chicago Opera Theater decided that this December it would mount a relatively unknown Christmas work and the results are a mixed bag.

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has made a wide variety of content on its CSOtv platform free to the public. This means that a range of concerts and other events are available on-demand anytime to anyone. I thought the cold Thanksgiving weekend would be a good time to give it a try from the c…

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The pandemic-inspired “Sound/Sites” video series offered by UChicago Presents continues even though music with live audiences has returned. This is great news, because the idea of the series is to showcase marvelous performances that also highlight beautiful and interesting spaces and archit…

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New love, tired love, lost love, family love, spiritual love — that’s a considerable amount of affection for a two-act opera. But “Florencia en el Amazonas,” the 1996 opera that premiered in Houston and is now considered Mexican composer Daniel Catán’s greatest work, delivers the goods. This…

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Directors are sometimes the divorce lawyers of the opera world. Even stalwart and steady marriages such as those between Verdi and Shakespeare or Tchaikovsky and Pushkin can be dissolved by fiat in the hands of directors who are certain in their own concept of the true happily ever after on …

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It was chilly in Hyde Park on Sunday, a dull, gray day stained with cold rain. But inside the Logan Center’s Performance Hall, University of Chicago Presents transported the assembled audience to another place and time, serving up 16th century music for the lute that conjured the gaiety of s…

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Since 1977 the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series has provided free concerts to Chicago music lovers. The series honors the British musician who performed in London during World War II in order to boost morale.

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One of the world’s most talented and celebrated mezzo-sopranos sang a world premiere in Hyde Park last Friday night and only a tiny audience was there to hear it. Susan Graham was the headliner for the University of Chicago Presents concert at Mandel Hall where the main work was a stirring n…

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Lyric Opera of Chicago has moved from a very dimly lit and hard to fathom production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” as its opening opera of the season to a brightly lit, colorful, and utterly charming rendition of Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore” (“The Elixir of Love”). With a new-to-Chicago production …

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Chicago Opera Theater opened its season with a bang, offering an unusual take on a popular opera. Bizet’s “Carmen” is a staple of the repertoire and normally a concert version wouldn’t be the most exciting way to experience it. But the two performances offered by COT were something very unus…

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Riccardo Muti ascended the conductor’s podium on the Symphony Center stage last week for the first time since February 2020. The audience reacted with thunderous applause, mixed with cheers and welcoming whistles. Folks who had presented proof of vaccination outside the building and came rea…

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Something wicked this way comes: a new production of “Macbeth” to open Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2021–22 season. Verdi’s opera based on Shakespeare’s tragedy is well-cast, features a splendid first outing in the pit by Enrique Mazzola in his role as Lyric’s third music director, and underline…

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When the coronavirus pandemic caused concert halls to go black, music organizations scrambled to keep musicians working and music flowing by creating video concerts accessible via the Internet. What began as a kind of experiment developed, in many cases, into a genuinely new way to present c…

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As summer melts away and autumn looms on the horizon, music lovers know that a new season of performances is not far away. One marker of this is Lyric Opera of Chicago’s annual concert at Millennium Park. For years this has been one of the major events of the waning summer as well as an anno…