Ravinia Festival puts 'Passion' into summer classical lineup

The Ravinia Festival has announced the remainder of its programming for the 2013 summer season. The schedule comprises more than 120 classical, popular, jazz and dance events, presented almost nightly from June 6 to Sept. 15 at Ravinia Park in Highland Park.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be in residence for its usual six-week period. This year, music director James Conlon is putting particular emphasis on the Wagner and Verdi bicentennials as well as on the centenary of English composer Benjamin Britten. Also, the Steans Music Institute, Ravinia's summer conservatory, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the world premieres of eight commissioned vocal and instrumental chamber works.

Among the special projects this year will be the Midwest premiere of John Adams' “The Gospel According to the Other Mary,” a modern-day Passion setting presented by the Chicago Philharmonic with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the vocal soloists for whom it was composed. Grant Gershon, the chorale's music director, will conduct.

Other highlights include the Ravinia premiere of David Lang's “The Little Match Girl Passion,” given by the Chicago contemporary ensemble eighth blackbird; the Midwest premiere of cellist Yo-Yo Ma's bluegrass project, “The Goat Rodeo Sessions”; Max Richter's “The Four Seasons Recomposed,” with violinist Daniel Hope; and a Benny Goodman tribute by soloists and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra.

Ravinia also has announced the solo roster for Conlon's concert performance of Verdi's “Aida.” The title role will be sung by Latonia Moore, with Roberto Alagna as Radames, Michelle DeYoung as Amneris, Mark Delevan as Amonasro and Morris Robinson as Ramfis.

Instrumental soloists appearing with the CSO include violinists Maxim Vengerov, James Ehnes and Gil Shaham; cellist Alisa Weilerstein; and pianists Jorge Federico Osorio, Lang Lang, Leon Fleisher, Katherine Jacobson Fleisher and Alon Goldstein. Itzhak Perlman will perform separate concerts as violin soloist and conductor.

Conlon will lead two off-site performances of Britten's church parable, “The Burning Fiery Furnace,” at Trinity Episcopal Church in Highland Park. He also will preside over two Martin Theater concerts involving Chicago Symphony musicians, one a program of Mozart wind serenades.

Ravinia's intimate performance space will play host to a wide variety of chamber, vocal and choral music. Ensemble Dal Niente and singers from the Ryan Opera Center will premiere a chamber orchestra version of Leonard Bernstein's “Songfest.” Soprano Nicole Cabell and pianist-composer Ricky Ian Gordon will present “Silver Rain,” a song cycle based on poetry by Langston Hughes. There also will be visits from the New York-based ensembles Brooklyn Rider and The Knights.

Baritone Matthias Goerne will return for a recital of Schumann and Mahler songs, and soprano Patricia Racette will offer a concert of cabaret fare. Handel's oratorio “Israel in Egypt” will be performed by Music of the Baroque under Jane Glover. The young sibling pianists 5 Browns will play an arrangement of Stravinsky's “The Rite of Spring” for multiple keyboards. The Takacs Quartet will present the complete Bela Bartok string quartets in back-to-back concerts.

Other chamber artists and groups appearing at Ravinia this summer include the Juilliard, Emerson and Linden string quartets; Zukerman ChamberPlayers; and Lincoln Trio. Violinists Sarah Chang and Vengerov are appearing in recital, as are pianists Peter Serkin, Vladimir Feltsman and the duo of Mischa and Cipa Dichter.

Ravinia will continue its series of $10 concerts in Bennett Gordon Hall with an extensive lineup of young solo musicians, many of them new to the area. The lauded British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor will make his Ravinia recital debut, and Anthony de Mare will perform Stephen Sondheim songs as re-imagined by other composers. Rachel Barton Pine will devote two recitals to the complete Paganini Caprices for solo violin.

Steans Institute musicians will premiere newly commissioned songs by Jake Heggie, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ramsey Lewis, David Ludwig, Stephen Paulus, Roberto Sierra and Augusta Read Thomas. Participants also will give 17 free concerts and six open master classes, with institute director Miriam Fried and other artists.

Dance attractions this summer are to include Concert Dance Inc., the Ruth Page Civic Ballet and the Pilobolus dance troupe, making its first Ravinia appearance in 34 years.

This year, 2,500 seats in the 3,400-seat pavilion will be priced at $25 for every CSO concert. Lawn admission to most classical concerts, including those by the CSO, will be $10, free to children and college-age students.

General ticket sales begin April 25 exclusively at ravinia.org. Phone sales, at 847-266-5100, begin May 19.

Twitter @jvonrhein

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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