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The best things to do in Chicago this month,
selected by our culture criticsApril 2016

Music
Classical, New Music, Opera

Yossif Ivanov
Violinist Yossif Ivanov Photo: Tom Barnes
 

ACCESS CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

4/16 at 7:30 Before talkies, live musicians frequently accompanied screenings of films. In one of its signature events, this new-music collective scores contemporary silent movies in one of the few old-time movie theaters with a working organ. $8–$20. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. acmusic.org

BACH WEEK

4/22–5/6 J.S. Bach, time’s consensus greatest composer, possessed a singular ability to spin out baroque brilliance from simple musical ideas. This festival continues analogously to spin out concerts from his inexhaustible catalog, mounting cantatas, selections from The Well–Tempered Clavier played on piano, The Art of Fugue performed surrounding the audience, and the complete Musical Offering. $10–$80. Various locations. bachweek.org

CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER

4/18 at 12:15 The local and uncompromisingly avant-garde music group Fonema Consort hits the Classical Monday series, bringing a program of 20th- and 21st-century art songs sung by the soprano Nathalie Colas. Free. 78 E. Washington. explorechicago.org

CHICAGO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

4/3 at 7 Frequently, a new work is the only element of spice in concerts of classics (here it’s John David Earnest’s Chasing the Sun, which abuts Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto). This concert’s X factor, though, is an X-ray analysis of Beethoven’s hair and bone samples by physicist Ken Kemner, who aims to shed light on the maestro’s cause of death. $10–$75. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern U., 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. chicagophilharmonic.org

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

4/1–2 Susanna Mälkki’s keen, dramatic interpretations have won her fans worldwide. Debussy’s Gigues and Bartók’s sharp-cornered Violin Concerto No. 2 fall right in her wheelhouse. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade closes the concert. $34–$221.
4/7–9 Hot on the heels of Lyric’s production of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, Berlioz’s unorthodox choral symphony fills a full concert under the baton of CSO music director Riccardo Muti. $36–$260.
4/14–16 at 8, 4/22 at 1:30, 4/24 at 3 Romeo and Juliet make yet another appearance in the CSO’s take on Tchaikovsky’s overture fantasy. Muti leads that piece, along with another Tchaikovsky take on Shakespeare (The Tempest) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, featuring one of the maestro’s go-to sopranos, Rosa Feola. $36–$260.

 

4/21, 23 at 8; 4/26 at 7:30 With Falstaff, Muti completes a short-term triptych (three Shakespeare-themed programs in this residency) and a long-term one, dating back to 2011, of conducting Verdi’s three Bard-based operas in concert. The comedy tells the story of the titular character sending identical love letters to two different women. $36–$260.

4/28–30 The CSO’s former principal conductor Bernard Haitink conducts Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 with the Austrian pianist Till Fellner, as well as Richard Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony. $34–$221.
Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org

ENSEMBLE DAL NIENTE

4/30 at 5 Blurring the line between concert and gathering, this pillar of the new-music scene throws Party 2016, a five-hour shindig that has adventurous music lovers alternately mingling and listening to ear- and mind-opening pieces, including Deerhoof’s collaboration with Dal Niente and several world premieres, one by the goofball cassette-recording troupe Parlour Tapes+. $30–$75. 4045 N. Rockwell. dalniente.com

INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE

4/30 at 3 The anywhere-and-everywhere new-music organization stages a three-concert, two-location minifestival showcasing CSO cellist Katinka Kleijn, soprano Tony Arnold, and jazz pianist Cory Smythe dealing trickery such as a piano tuned a quarter-tone flat. Free. Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park; PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan. iceorg.org

TIM MUNRO

4/24 at 8:30 Sleep Songs. The flutist Tim Munro, who spent a decade with Eighth Blackbird, has flown the sextet’s nest to pursue his own projects. For example, he’s working on a piece with the composer David Reminick based on things Reminick’s wife says in her sleep. Munro gives a taste of the work in progress and raises funds for the commission. Constellation, 3111 N. Western. constellation-chicago.com

MUSIC OF THE BAROQUE

4/1–3 Monteverdi’s Vespers layers combinations of instruments, along with solo and choral voices, over plainchant melodies from evening prayers. The result, a quilt of techniques and textures transcending mere liturgical use, is one of the masterworks of the late Renaissance. $27–$75.

 

4/24–25 A concert titled Hear My Prayer seems to cry out for greater recognition of the underrated English baroque composer Henry Purcell. A collection of choral anthems, instrumentals, and a cappella motets—sadly excluding the wrenching one referenced in the program’s title—promises to show off Purcell’s prescient creativity with structure and dissonance. $27–$75.

Various locations. baroque.org

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

4/6 at 7:30 The promising young pianist Andrew Tyson plays a recital of Mozart, Scriabin, and Gershwin. $10–$30.
4/26 at 7:30 Northwestern’s Dover Quartet jets in for the last of its three string-quartet concerts this season, pairing a couple of No. 2s: Janáček’s and Shostakovich’s. $10–$30.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 60 Arts Circle, Evanston. events.music.northwestern.edu

NORTON BUILDING CONCERT SERIES

4/10 at 2:30 For this chamber series’s 20th anniversary, local dynamo Augusta Read Thomas composed Klee Musings, a three-movement piano piece that the Neave Trio will premiere alongside works by Dvořák and the Boston composer Arthur Foote. $25. Norton Building, 200 W. 11th, Lockport. nortonconcerts.com

RAVINIA

4/2 at 8:30 Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht resembles the chromaticism of Wagner more than Schoenberg’s own works. But few know the poem that inspired the chamber piece about two people walking through a forest discussing an unborn child. Here, Fifth House Ensemble plays an arrangement of Verklärte Nacht to an animation of the poem, as well as compositions by Dan Visconti and Stacy Garrop. $10.
4/30 at 8:30 Belgian violinist Yossif Ivanov collaborates with Chicago-based pianist Marta Aznavoorian on a recital of Beethoven, Grieg, Ysaÿe, and Stravinsky. $10–$45.
Lake Cook and Green Bay, Highland Park. ravinia.org

SYMPHONY CENTER

4/3 at 3 Pianist Richard Goode rolls out an all-Bach solo recital, including the Partita No. 2 and the Italian Concerto. $21–$95.
4/10 at 3 When a quartet is composed of four international soloists—most notably pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and violinist Christian Tetzlaff—it almost doesn’t matter what’s played. Brahms’s three piano quartets match the ensemble in star power. $40–$116.
4/17 at 4 Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons brings the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra to town for Shostakovich’s concert-length Symphony No. 7. $44–$155.
220 S. Michigan. cso.org

TALLIS SCHOLARS

4/5 at 7:30 The Tallis Scholars stand tallest among the choral world’s groups double-majoring in prebaroque and contemporary music. The current tour of the British ensemble brings a Renaissance-focused program, including a flight of Byrd. $35–$55. Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut. cso.org

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESENTS

4/8 at 7:30 Germany’s Artemis Quartet, a decades-old string ensemble, makes its Chicago debut playing the music of Hugo Wolf, Leoš Janáček, and Beethoven. $5–$35. Mandel Hall, U. of C., 1131 E. 57th.
4/24 at 3 The Pacifica Quartet has been at the University of Chicago for 17 years, making it more a fixture of the institution than some campus buildings. In this performance, it performs Mozart’s Quartet in G Major (K. 387), Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 11, and Beethoven’s op. 131. $5–$30.
Logan Center, U. of C., 915 E. 60th. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu

WILLIAM FERRIS CHORALE

4/30 at 7:30 The excellent professional choir sings a tribute concert to D.C.-based composer Leo Nestor, a champion of the Ferris Chorale’s brand of ravishing contemporary music. $5–$10. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 708 W. Belmont. williamferrischorale.org

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