Grant Park Music Festival to offer two choral world premieres in 78th season

February 22, 2012

by Lawrence A. Johnson

The Grant Park Music Festival’s 78th season will offer two world premieres, as well as the usual bracing mix of symphonic favorites and choice rarities.

This summer the festival will mark the 50th anniversary season of the Grant Park Chorus, and artistic director Carlos Kalmar will lead the premieres of two works for chorus and orchestra commissioned for the occasion. Michael Gandolfi’s Only Converge: An Exaltation of Place will debut June 15-16 and Sebastian Currier’s Sleepers and Dreamers will be presented July 6-7.

The Grant Park Chorus will feature in several concerts this summer. Carlos Kalmar and chorus director Christopher Bell will share the podium for a program June 29-30 featuring Orff’s Carmina Burana, Stravinsky’s Les Noces and works by Whitacre and Tormis.

The chorus will also be heard in Rossini’s Stabat Mater July 20-21, Haydn’s oratorio The Seasons August 10-11 and the season finale, a genuine rarity, Dvorak’s rarely heard cantata, The Spectre’s Bride August 17-18.

Kalmar will open the season June 13 with a program offering Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 and Cello Concerto with Alban Gerhardt as soloist.

Other highlights of Kalmar’s programs include Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music (June 15-16); Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and Britten’s Piano Concerto with soloist Steven Osborne (June 20-22); Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (August 1); Brahms’ Double Concerto with Christian Tetzlaff and sister Tanja Tetzlaff (August 8); excerpts from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier with members of the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Center for American Artists (August 15); and a Latin program featuring violinist Chee-Yun in Piazzolla’s Four Season of Buenos Aires (August 3-4)

Four conductors will make their festival debuts this summer. Koen Kessels leads an intriguing collaboration with the Paris Opera Ballet in the Harris Theater June 23 with the Grant Park Orchestra and dancers partnering in showpieces by Bizet, Lalo, Gershwin and Ravel. James Gaffigan directs the orchestra July 25 in Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and the Chicago premiere of Avner Dorman’s Frozen in Time with percussionist Martin Grubinger as soloist.

Rossen Milanov will direct a program July 18 featuring Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto with soloist Mikhail Simonyan also making his festival debut. And Jun Markl directs a concert featuring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Debussy’s Khamma and Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 5 (Egyptian) with soloist Pascal Roge.

The traditional Independence Day concert will actually take place on the night of July 4 this summer. George Fenton will conduct his own score for the documentary Frozen Planet with a large-screen projection July 1. And  Kevin Stiles will lead vocal soloists and the chorus and orchestra in a evening devoted to Broadway composer, Frank Loesser July 13-14.

Memberships are now available. Call 312-742-7647 or go to grantparkmusicfestival.com.

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