Grant Park Music Festival to Mark 80th Anniversary with Two Premieres, Old Friends and Much American Music
February 11, 2014
by Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review
The Grant Park Music Festival will celebrate its 80th anniversary this summer with world premieres of two commissioned works, visits by two of its former principal conductors, and the most venturesome programming in Chicago with American music to the fore.
William Bolcom will be the festival’s composer in residence in a weeklong session that will include his Cabaret Songs. The season’s final program will include the premiere of his Concerto for Orchestra on August 15 and 16, commissioned to mark the Grant Park Orchestra’s 80th anniversary.
This summer will also see the debut of The Legend of the Northern Lights by Christopher Theofanidis, another Grant Park commission, which will accompany a film of space images August 8 and 9.
In addition to the two premieres, American music is prominently represented including works of Walter Piston, John Corigliano, John Adams, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Florence Price and Richard Danielpour.
Carlos Kalmar will open the 80th anniversary season June 11 with Corigliano’s Tournaments overture and Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini and Piano Concerto No. 2 (complete version) with Natasha Paremski as soloist.
Characteristically, Kalmar’s weeks will feature several concert rarities including Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette (June 13 and 14), Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass (June 27 and 28), Dvorak’s Symphony No. 3 (June 18), Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 (June 20 and 21), Chausson’s Symphony in B flat and Cristobal Halffter’s Tiento (July 30), Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins (August 6),Walter Piston’s The Incredible Flutist (August 13) and John Adams’ Tromba Lontana.
There are ample familiar works to be led by Kalmar this summer as well, including Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Handel’s Water Music, and Ravel’s complete Daphnis and Chloé,
In addition to their appearances in orchestral-choral works by Berlioz, Janacek, Ravel and Shostakovich, Christopher Bell will direct the Grant Park Chorus in two off-site performances at the South Shore Cultural Center and the Columbus Park Refectory July 17 and 20.
Two former Grant Park Music Festival principal conductors will return to the lakefront festival to lead concerts this anniversary season.
Leonard Slatkin will direct a program July 25 and 26 featuring Shostakovich’s The Execution of Stepan Razin, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Michael Camilo’s Piano Concerto No. 2 Tenerife with the composer as soloist.
Hugh Wolff will be back July 18 and 19 to lead performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Dvorak’s Piano Concerto with Stephen Hough as soloist.
Other guest conductors include Mei-Ann Chen with Holst’s The Planets (July 11 and 12) and Andrew Grams in a program of orchestral showpieces July 23. Composer George Fenton will return July 16 with “The Blue Planet in Concert,” his music to accompany underwater scenes from the BBC/Discovery Channel documentary.
There will also be two youth orchestras appearing this summer. David Hattner will conduct the Portland Youth Philharmonic in a populist program July 5. And David Robertson leads the National Youth Orchestra July 28 with Gil Shaham as soloist in Britten’s Violin Concerto.
Other soloists this summer include Stefan Jackiw in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (rescheduled from last year’s opening-night cancellation); cellist Gabriel Cabezas (Saint-Saens Concerto in A minor); Christian Tetzlaff (Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole); and Jean-Philippe Collard (Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3). Vocal soloists include Julie Boulianne and Paul Appleby (Romeo et Juliette), Christine Goerke, Jill Grove, Garrett Sorenson and Shenyang (Glagolitic Mass) and members of the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center.
Lawn admission is free. Membership starts at $157 for access to premium Pritzker Pavilion seating. Visit gpmf.org or call 312-742-7638.