Grand Concert at Pritzker Pavilion Is a Neighborhood Event for Some

June 17, 2010

Read what a few Grant Park Music Festival members have to say about their concert-going experience.

The Grant Park Music Festival, which opened Wednesday with renowned violinist Elina Vahala playing Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," is as much a neighborhood concert as it is a citywide tradition.

"We enjoy the music, the crowd and the architecture (of the Pritzker Pavilion)," said Sue McDonald from her front-row orchestra circle seat. She and husband Bernie walked to the park along with Larry and Patty Blaisdell. The McDonalds and Mr. Blaisdell own Midland Metal Products Co. (Ms. McDonald and Ms. Blaisdell, a teacher, are cousins.)

The couples live in Streeterville and like many of the attendees enjoy the Grant Park Music Festival because it allows them to walk to a show and often still be home before dark.

"I like that it's in the center of the city and it's open-air. You feel very international when you're here," Ms. McDonald said.

It's the festival's 76th season and Carlos Kalmar's 10th season as conductor.

"I'm very excited to be here," he told me after the show at a private party with donors and others at Aria restaurant in the nearby Fairmont Hotel.

The opening night was one of the larger festival concerts ever at the six-year-old pavilion, according to organizers.

Some notable names in attendance included Bryan Traubert, recently named to head the Chicago Park District; Chicago Cultural Affairs commissioner Lois Weisberg, and Jim Perlow of Perlow Steel Corp. and his wife, Columbia College professor Sandra Allen.

"It's just not spring until the festival begins," Ms. Allen said.

Shia Kapos, Crain's Chicago Business