Offering up greater variety, including more than 50 debuts from Sting to Wagnerian tenor John Treleaven, Ravinia Festival Chairperson Pamela B. Strobel and President and CEO Welz Kauffman today announced details of the 2010 season, including a Chicago Symphony Orchestra residency that celebrates major anniversaries of Mahler, Chopin, Schumann, Barber, Bernstein and Copland, as well as milestone birthdays of Music Director James Conlon, Christoph Eschenbach and Stephen Sondheim. The season, featuring 117 separate events, runs from June 3 through September 7.
"Audiences expect great variety from Ravinia, so what thrills me most about this season is not just the great breadth of options, but that every aspect of the festival glitters with audience favorites-in many cases artists, such as The Moody Blues, that concert-goers have clamored for in phone calls, letters and emails since I first arrived here in 2000. It all came together in one season that puts me in mind of Leonard Bernstein, whom we recognize in this 20th anniversary of his passing. In Bernstein's first year leading the New York Philharmonic, he mixed things up, celebrating the standard repertoire such as our complete Beethoven Piano Concertos, programming other formats such as music theater as we're doing with Annie Get Your Gun, and engaging the biggest stars in the world just as we have Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell and Frederica von Stade. I'm also reminded of the more recent New York phenomenon, the multimedia cabaret Le Poisson Rouge, which might put up a chamber orchestra like The Knights one night, and a cutting edge indie act like Rodrigo y Gabriela the next, or Gabe Kahane or Zuill Bailey, both of whom have played Ravinia previously," Kauffman said.
To help accommodate the great variety of events (over 60 percent classical compared to the historic 50/50 ratio), Ravinia will expand the use of its most intimate performance space, Bennett • Gordon Hall, in part so the festival can offer two or more concert options on several dates throughout the summer. Use of the hall also helps extend the classical season beyond the CSO residency and move more events outside the month of June, which has been cold and wet for the past several seasons. Offerings in this 450-seat venue include the Ravinia debut of Mexico's ambassadorial Delfos Danza Contemporánea, the fashionable dance troupe the New York Times describes as "gutsy," leading Ravinia's commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence.
Most Bennett • Gordon Hall performances will be priced at $10 for reserved seats, one of the many measures Ravinia has taken to create economical options. Audiences will also find savings with 25 specially priced concert/dinner/parking packages, as low as $35, that sample the great variety of the many genres of music presented at the festival. Reserved pavilion seats to four Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts, including an all-French evening led by Christoph Eschenbach, are priced at only $25 each. All concertgoers can get 20 percent off their orders (with some exceptions) when they purchase their tickets in person at Ravinia's box office on Customer Appreciation Day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday,
May 22. Value-added events include a discussion of the works of Copland, Bernstein and Gershwin by popular musicologist Robert Greenberg, a series of recitals by the Steans Institute for Young Artists and Steans master classes with such stars as Kiri Te Kanawa.
The 2010 summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be in full celebration mode in 21 concerts from June 28 through Aug. 15 as Ravinia recognizes Music Director James Conlon's 60th birthday, former Music Director Christoph Eschenbach's 70th birthday, Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday, the 200th anniversary of Mexican Independence and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, the 20th anniversary of the deaths of icons Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, the 150th anniversary of the births of Gustav Mahler and wild-West legend Annie Oakley, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Barber and the 200th anniversary of the births of Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann.
"Just a few days ago, I joined an enthusiastic room of music lovers to hear Riccardo Muti make his first season announcement as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Muti-who like his predecessors Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon and Sir Georg Solti, first conducted the CSO at Ravinia-noted that his goals included attracting the symphonic audience, building and educating new audiences and incorporating opera into the standard rep. Ravinia believes in these goals. We're connecting the audience to the orchestra with our video screens, keeping prices reasonable, bringing music into the communities with the Lawndale conservatory and new student orchestra and programming opera in our CSO residency," Kauffman said.
"Ravinia, like the rest of the symphonic world, desires to turn all listeners onto this great music and to rebuild what the recent NEA survey noted as dwindling audiences," Kauffman said. "Even as conservatories and universities turn out so many brilliantly talented young musicians, arts education has been sorely missing from so many pre-college schools, and therefore we are missing this ideal exposure moment that helps build audiences. Organizations like Ravinia-in fact, all of us who work for classical music-need to find that ‘international adapter' that connects kids and other folks that love music to the concerts themselves. At the same time, since we know there isn't any one solution to the problem, we continue to work hard to improve the concert-going experience, to improve the amenities in the park, to keep the prices for the CSO reasonable, to keep the repertoire popular, now we need to focus on the long-term strategies."
Guest stars with the CSO include violinist Joshua Bell; soprano Renée Fleming; violinist Pinchas Zukerman; pianist Denis Matsuev essaying Rachmaninoff's Second Piano concerto; mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade in Mozart's Così fan tutte, and baritone Nathan Gunn and bass Ildebrando D'Arcangelo in The Marriage of Figaro, both operas conducted by James Conlon in the Martin Theatre; and Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, George Hearn and Michael Cerveris reunited for the hits from Ravinia's acclaimed Sondheim productions as the annual Women's Board Gala. LuPone returns later in the season to tackle her third Ethel Merman role in three performances of Annie Get Your Gun, co-starring Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Season highlights include Yo-Yo Ma's 10th Anniversary Celebration of his Silk Road Project and rare, up-close and personal performances by classical superstars in our intimate indoor performances spaces, including violinist Midori on July 19; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa on Aug. 18; baritone Matthias Goerne, joined by Eschenbach on piano, singing Schumann and Brahms on July 22; violinist Leila Josfowicz on Aug. 25; and the revolutionary chamber orchestra The Knights in its Ravinia debut on Sept. 2. The season features the Ravinia debuts of Sting, performing his greatest hits with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra; Train; The Levon Helm Band on a bill with John Hiatt & The Combo; Nelly Furtado; Steve Martin performing with the Steep Canyon Rangers; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Rodrigo y Gabriela; The Moody Blues; Earth Wind & Fire and Dave Grusin. Returning favorites include Carrie Underwood, Cheap Trick and Squeeze, Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, Bobby McFerrin, The Backstreet Boys, and The Dave Brubeck Quartet and Nancy Wilson with the Ramsey Lewis Trio.
As started last season, all pavilion concerts will again be videocast on screens flanking the stage. Video screens on the lawn will be erected for select performances, including the Sondheim Gala and Arnie Roth conducting the CSO's performance of the international sensation Distant Worlds/Final Fantasy, with Nobuo Uematsu's music from the wildly successful video games and films. Following in the long tradition of symphonic music's use in popular movies, this promises to be an ideal concert for introducing listeners to the symphony-especially younger ones familiar with the videogames. Also on the technology front, Ravinia has created an iPhone app, available now at the iTunes store, that will feature up-to-the-minute scheduling, transportation information and the ability to help audience members find each other on the lawn. Wi-Fi will again be available throughout the park. A 40x60-foot dance floor will be added to the lawn for the June 26 concert by Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, and the Women's Board will host its annual dance contest.
UBS returns as the lead sponsor of Ravinia Festival's 2010 season. UBS has supported the not-for-profit festival as lead sponsor since 2004.
"We are grateful to the patrons, donors, audiences and artists of Ravinia Festival who have allowed us to grow even in a tough economic environment," Strobel said. "Even though the economy's not out of the woods, we're looking forward to our biggest season ever in 2010. I offer a special note of thanks to UBS for its consistent support of Ravinia and the arts around the country."
Tickets are on sale now www.ravinia.org.
MUSICAL MILESTONES: Ravinia's 2010 season is rich with special commemorations of important movers and shakers from history and of leaders closer to home.
JAMES CONLON'S 60th BIRTHDAY: Ravinia Music Director James Conlon, who will lead the CSO at Symphony Center in the spring of 2011, presides over several concerts this summer, including the "Conlon Showcase" in the Martin Theatre on July 27, when he will lead the Ravinia premiere of Milhaud's The Ox on the Roof, a pantomime farce with T. Daniels Productions. One of the world's most admired opera conductors, Conlon also brings the CSO into the Martin Theatre, as he did in 2008, for two performances each of two Mozart operas-this time Cosí fan tutte with Frederica von Stade and Ana Maria Martinez and The Marriage of Figaro with Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, Nathan Gunn and Lisette Oropesa as Susanna, a role that's just earned her rave reviews at the Metropolitan Opera.
CHRISTOPH ESCHENBACH's 70th BIRTHDAY: Ravinia's former music director celebrates his milestone with a residency July 22-25 that features concerts with some of his greatest friends and collaborators. He joins Matthias Goerne on July 22 for a Martin recital of songs by Schumann and Brahms. He joins the CSO at the piano for a performance of Mozart's Concerto in A Major on July 23. He conducts the CSO in a July 24 program that features Schumann's Concertstück with horn soloists from the CSO; the same composer's Introduction and Allegro Appassionato with pianist Tzimon Barto; Richard Strauss's Don Juan; and, from her celebrated recording with Eschenbach, Renée Fleming singing Strauss's Four Last Songs. He concludes the celebration with the July 25 CSO concert of all-French music, featuring his discoveries violinist Erik Schumann and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich, including Ravel's Boléro.
RAMSEY LEWIS'S 75th BIRTHDAY: The artistic director of Jazz at Ravinia has scored great success with original compositions for the festival over the past several
years, and last season's Proclamation of Hope, his contribution to Ravinia's Lincoln celebration, is headed for Kennedy Center. The jazz great celebrates this birthday
STEPHEN SONDHEIM'S 80th BIRTHDAY: A decade ago Ravinia Festival created the Sondheim 75 series to present one of his great theater works each year until the celebrated composer reached his diamond jubilee year. To honor him on his 80th birthday, Ravinia will mine the greatest songs from these productions and reunite the headliners. The Gala concert stars Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, George Hearn and Michael Cerveris performing hits from Gypsy, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music and others.
CHOPIN'S 200th BIRTHDAY: Ravinia acknowledges the bicentennial of one of the all-time greatest piano composers by presenting three of his renowned interpreters. Garrick Ohlsson gives an all-Chopin recital featuring nocturnes and the complete preludes on June 24. Ohlsson returns on June 28 to join the CSO in an all-Chopin evening featuring both his piano concertos. Denis Matsuev, who created a sensation with his 2008 Ravinia debut, returns to play Chopin's Ballade No. 4 on a Martin program that includes Schumann and Prokofiev on July 29. Finally on
Aug. 10, pianist Jeffrey Kahane performs three Mazurkas, the Etude in E-flat Minor, Nocturne in E-Flat Major and the Polonaise-fantaisie in A-Flat Major in a Martin Theatre recital.
SCHUMANN'S 200th BIRTHDAY: Ravinia celebrated Schumann when his Scenes From Childhood-juxtaposed with Ravinia's commissioning of New Scenes from Childhood from seven composers of distinctly different styles-was selected as the 2006 One Score, One Chicago masterwork. Now his bicentennial puts him back in the spotlight. The celebration begins when the Juilliard String Quartet performs his Quartet in A Major in a Martin performance on June 29. Pianist Vladimir Feltsman then plays the Arabesque in C Major and Carnaval on a program that also features this year's One Score selection, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Christoph Eschenbach and Matthias Goerne return after last year's highly acclaimed concerts of the Schubert song cycles for a July 21 Martin recital featuring Schumann's
Liederkreis and other songs. Eschenbach then takes Schumann to the pavilion stage with the CSO, with soloists Renée Fleming and Tzimon Barto along with the CSO horn players, for a concert that includes Schumann's Concertstück and Introduction and Allegro Appassionato. Perhaps his best-loved work, Scenes From Childhood, will be performed by Denis Matsuev in a Martin recital on July 29. The Pacifica Quartet joins forces with pianist Orion Weiss for the Piano Quintet in E-flat Major on
Aug. 3. On Aug. 10 pianist Jeffrey Kahane presents a concert of Chopin and Schumann that includes Schumann's Forest Scenes and his Sonata No. 1 in F-Sharp Minor. The Claremont Trio makes its Ravinia debut in a Bennett • Gordon Hall concert that features Schumann's Trio in F Major. On Sept. 1 pianist Alon Goldstein will illuminate the Schumann/Brahms love triangle with his take on Schumann's Fantasy.
MAHLER'S 150th BIRTHDAY: Long regarded as a favorite among Ravinia audiences, Mahler is celebrated on July 13 in a CSO concert that features the Adagio from his unfinished final work, Symphony No. 10.
BARBER'S 100th BIRTHDAY: The centennial of one of America's most significant composers, Samuel Barber, is celebrated on the July 7 program "Leon Fleisher and Friends" with a performance of his String Quartet Op. 11, featuring violinists Miriam Fried and Ida Kavafian, violist Kim Kashkashian and cellist Laurence Lesser. On July 13 the CSO offers the orchestral arrangement of the Adagio for Strings from the Op. 11 Quartet-a masterwork that found new audiences with film scores for Platoon and The Elephant Man, among others. That program also features Joshua Bell performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor. Barber's Hermit Songs is performed in the Aug. 11 "Voices of the Future" program of solos, duets and quartets performed by participants in the Steans Institute for Young Artists.
BERNSTEIN/COPLAND-20 YEARS AFTER: It was 20 years ago that America lost not one, but two of its all-time great musical talents, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. Their work is remembered in a variety of events all summer long. Ravinia's Ruth Page Festival of Dance opens on June 10 and 11 with Concert Dance, Inc. performing the world premiere of Venetia Stifler's choreography to El Salón México, featuring music composed by Copland and arranged by Bernstein. James Conlon conducts the CSO in a concert that explores the work of three American masters on July 11, with Bernstein's "Age of Anxiety" Symphony, Copland's Appalachian Spring Suite and Gershwin's Concerto in F. One of Bernstein's music-theater masterpieces gets its due when the Candide vocal suite is performed by the CSO on July 23, with Anna Christy as Cunegonde, Kim Criswell as the Old Lady, Nicholas Phan as Candide and the Grammy-winning John Aler as the Governor. The inventive chamber orchestra The Knights' Ravinia debut program on Sept. 2 includes selections from Bernstein's West Side Story and the original 13-instrument version of Copland's Appalachian Spring. Finally on Sept. 6, Hershey Felder stars as Bernstein in Maestro, a one-man show in the vein of Felder's recreations of Gershwin and Beethoven, presenting key scenes from the composer's life accompanied by piano performances of his greatest works.
200th ANNIVERSARY OF MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE: Before the summer season even begins, Ravinia is already starting its celebration of Mexico by teaming with the Auditorium Theatre for the March 13 and 14 performances of the Ballet Folklórico de México. Summer brings recognition of the 200th anniversary of Mexican Independence, with Ravinia Festival teaming with the city of Highland Park, which maintains a strong Sister Cities relationship with Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta will send a cultural delegation, including its mayor, to the festival for the July 15 and 16 CSO performances of Beethoven's complete Piano Concertos played by Jorge Federico Osorio. Osorio was born in Mexico and makes his home in Highland Park. One of Puerto Vallarta's favorite chefs, Thierry Blouet, will preside over the Park View restaurant those two nights. Making their Ravinia Festival debut on Aug. 28, the Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela fuse classical guitar with heavy metal and traditional flamenco flavors. The Mexico celebration is bookended by dance events. Concert Dance, Inc. performs the world premiere of Venetia Stifler's choreography to El Salón México on June 10 and 11. Closing the series is the Ravinia debut of the "gutsy" (New York Times) Delfos Danza Contemporánea in three performances, Aug. 27-28 plus a Kraft Kids Concert on Aug. 29.
SILK ROAD 10th ANNIVERSARY: Yo-Yo Ma comes to Ravinia on Aug. 20 with his Silk Road Ensemble for the 10th anniversary of his world-famous project celebrating the cultures that lined the old Silk Road routes.
From intimately staged Mozart operas in the Martin Theatre to Patti LuPone's third take on an Ethel Merman role, variety is the hallmark of Ravinia's music theater season.
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (Aug. 13-15): Wild-West legend Annie Oakley, who
famously ran her own exposition along with Buffalo Bill Cody when they were excluded from Chicago's historic Columbian Exposition, turns 150 on the very day Ravinia opens its production of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun. In her third role originated by Ethel Merman (following Anything Goes and Gypsy, which began its journey to Broadway at Ravinia), LuPone stars as the sharpshooter along side Brian Stokes Mitchell, whom the New York Times has dubbed "the last leading man." The show, directed by Lonny Price with Paul Gemignani leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, boasts one of Broadway's most scintillating scores, with hits like "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Anything You Can Do," "It's Wonderful" and "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun."
SONDHEIM GALA (July 31): Ravinia's 2010 Gala Benefit Evening celebrates the 80th birthday of the great American composer Stephen Sondheim with a program that reunites the stars from Ravinia's acclaimed Sondheim series-Patti LuPone, George Hearn, Audra McDonald, Michael Cerveris accompanied by the great Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The program will be selected from "Worst Pies," "Epiphany," "A Little Priest" and "Pretty Women" from Sweeney Todd; "You Must Meet My Wife," "Send in the Clowns," "Every Day A Little Death" and "In Praise of Women" from A Little Night Music; "Happiness" and "I Read" from Passion; "Finishing the Hat," "Color and Light" and "Children and Art" from Sunday in the Park with George; the title song from Anyone Can Whistle; and "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy. In addition to the permanent screens in the pavilion, this concert will also feature video screens on the lawn.
COSÍ FAN TUTTE: Frederica von Stade, acclaimed as "one of America's finest artists and singers" by the New York Times, stars as Despina in one of the best-loved Mozart/Da Ponte operas. Ana Maria Martinez, who thrilled Ravinia audiences opposite Placido Domingo on the gala stage, co-stars. James Conlon, who achieved great success by bringing the CSO into the Martin Theatre for Mozart's The Abduction at the Seraglio and Don Giovanni in 2008, conducts. The opera will be presented with supertitles at 7 p.m. Aug. 5 and in a special matinee performance at 1 p.m. Aug. 7.