classical music

Carlos Kalmar conducts a virtual festival concert of the Grant Park Music Festival. 

The opera and classical music communities continue to grapple with coronavirus restrictions that make live performances nearly impossible. Planning for future performances remains a tricky enterprise because no one knows when venues will be able to reopen.

Since opera companies, symphony orchestras, and chamber music presenters often plan several years in advance, decision makers are put in a position of trying to guess not only when they will reopen but how much money they will have when they do.

This column will provide updates on Chicago music makers, including both cancellations and upcoming events.

The Chicago Sinfonietta is holding a summer fundraiser entitled “Summer Magic: A Virtual Brunch” on Aug. 1 at 11 a.m. They describe the online event as a virtual celebration featuring music, a raffle, and “much more.” The event is designed to provide support for the Chicago Sinfonietta musicians.

Donors contributing $100 or more on or before the day of the event will be entered in a raffle drawing for an at-home brunch for eight, featuring food, drinks, and a one-hour performance by a Chicago Sinfonietta musician.

For more information, visit

The Newberry Consort, an early music group which has been dazzling Hyde Park audiences for over 30 years at various Hyde Park venues, is offering online videos of past performances, which they describe as memorable moments from the Consort’s archive.

The most recently released video is from its 2010 program, “Musica Secreta: Passion and Virtuosity at Court.” It features singers Ellen Hargis, Carrie Henneman Shaw, and Tracy Cowart; the Venere Lute Quartet; and the Newberry Consort violin band.

On the program: “Piango, prego, e sospiro” and “Fan battaglia, i miei pensieri”  by Luigi Rossi as well as “Balletto della Battaglia” by Gasparo Zanetti. Shawn Keener has created an attractive visual element, adding to the performance.

Other previous performances which are represented in their online catalog include “The Marchesa: Isabella d’Este,” “The Count: the Music of Oswald von Wolkenstein,” “Le Roman de Fauvel,” “Beautiful Dreamer: The Music of Lincoln’s America,” and “Christina: The Girl King.”

The Newberry Consort has canceled this year’s summer gala and fundraiser. For more information, visit

While the Grant Park Music Festival has no live performances at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park this summer, they are offering a virtual festival. Its virtual events include radio broadcasts, concerts, talks, and master classes.

In support of the virtual festival, the GPMF website says, “While we may not be able to physically gather, the power of music knows no bounds.”

On July 22, the GPMF is reprising a previous festival concert featuring Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on WFMT 98.7 FM and Also on the program: Jimmy López’s “Fiesta!” as well as Andrew Norman’s “Drip” and William Bolcom’s Cabaret Songs. Carlos Kalmar conducts, Conrad Tao is the piano soloist, and some members of the 2014 Ryan Opera Center sing: Soprano J’Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano Julie Anne Miller, and baritones Anthony Clark Evans and Will Liverman.

For more information, visit

On July 16, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced further cancellations. Programs originally scheduled to take place from Sept. 17 through Dec. 23 of this year have been canceled. The canceled concerts included those of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Center Presents, MusicNOW, and public programs of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO, including Civic Orchestra of Chicago concerts.

In announcing the cancellations, The CSOA reported that it “continues to explore the possibility of rescheduling affected programs in the future and to develop ideas for presenting smaller-scale live and online performances this fall, with more information available in August. The CSOA will host its largest annual fundraising event, Symphony Ball, online, moving from the previously announced date of Sat., Oct. 3 to Sat., Oct. 24, with additional event information to be shared soon.

The CSO continues to offer the “CSO From Home” content portal to access a wide variety of content featuring performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and CSO musicians.

The CSO has also reported on its “Music Ahead” campaign: “Created in spring 2020 in response to the financial impacts of the pandemic and with generous support from leadership donors, the CSOA’s Music Ahead campaign reached $5.4 million in donations including nearly $1.3 million in gifts of donated tickets as of June 30, 2020. The Music Ahead campaign will continue into the 2020/21 season and will provide funds that support the CSOA and its commitment to sharing classical music with audiences in Chicago and worldwide.”

More information is available at

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