There Are 27 Classical Performances and Operas to See in Chicago This May

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, and more

An ICE performance of ‘The Whisper Opera’

Photo: Erin Baiano

An ICE performance of The Whisper Opera

CLASSICAL, NEW MUSIC, OPERA

ACCESS CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
5/21 at 7 Strawdog Theatre Company and Chicago composers Seth Boustead and Amos Gillespie created a radio play based on writer Ben Hecht’s columns. $12. Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N Ravenswood. acmusic.org.

AVALON STRING QUARTET, SPEKTRAL QUARTET
5/29 at 7:30 Two of Chicago’s top string quartets cooperate on a program with Bartók’s Second String Quartet (Avalon), a world premiere by Ben Hjertmann (Spektral), and Mendelssohn’s Octet (both). $5–$20. Ganz Hall, Roosevelt U, 430 S Michigan. avalonquartet.com.

CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER
5/15 at 12:15 Yves Dharamraj, cello, and Riko Higuma, piano. 5/20 at 12 Anaphora plays a Mozart clarinet quintet and a Penderecki clarinet quartet. 5/22 at 12:15 Krystian Tkaczewski, piano. 5/26 at 3 International Chamber Artists play Dvořák, Beethoven, and two contemporary composers. 5/29 at 12:15 Francesca Anderegg, violin, and Brent Funderburk, piano. 78 E Washington. choosechicago.org.

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
5/9, 11 at 8; 5/14 at 7:30 Mei-Ann Chen, the Chicago Sinfonietta’s music director, conducts a Mendelssohn overture, Mississippi River by the Chicagoan Florence Price, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade. $31–$215. *Child Friendly. 5/10 at 1:30, 5/12 at 3 Beyond the Score delves into storytelling in Scheherezade with a multimedia educational presentation. $24–$142. 5/11 at 10 and 11:45 Once Upon a Symphony stages the South African story Abiyoyo, made famous by Pete Seeger, for kids as young as 3. $10–$20. *Child Friendly. 5/15 at 8 With a bill of Beethoven, Dvořák, and chamberized Bach Two-Part Inventions (originally for piano), Yo-Yo Ma is heading up a small band of CSOers in what promises to be one of the top chamber music events of the season. $75–$194. 5/16, 18 at 8; 5/21 at 7:30 Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (No. 6), Smetana (Czech), and Toru Takemitsu (Japanese) fill out the program. $24–$212. 5/17 at 8 The CSO plays live to accompany a screening of Singin’ in the Rain. $80–$205. 5/23 at 8, 5/24 at 1:30, 5/25 at 8, 5/28 at 7:30 The formidable Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays Saint-Saëns’s “Egyptian” Piano Concerto (No. 5), sandwiched between an orchestral suite by the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera and music by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. $24–$212. 5/30–6/1 at 8, 6/4 at 7:30 Annual visitor Jaap van Zweden helms the orchestra for an eclectic program: CSO composer in residence Mason Bates’s Liquid Interface, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 with David Fray, and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. $24–$212. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org.

EIGHTH BLACKBIRD
5/10, 17 at 7:30 See University of Chicago Presents. eighthblackbird.org.

FIFTH HOUSE ENSEMBLE
5/5–16 The new-music group conclude their season-long story-driven concert series, Caught, with The Web, plus an all-20th-century-and-later program that includes Samuel Barber and György Ligeti. Locations: fifth-house.com.

INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE *Critic’s Pick
5/30–6/1 at 7:30, 6/1–2 at 3 New-music star David Lang composed The Whisper Opera, in which the audience huddles onstage with the musicians, the better to convey secrets. Contemporary specialist Tony Arnold sings soprano. $10–$28. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. iceorg.org.

LAKE FOREST SYMPHONY
5/17–18 at 8 The last concert for music director Alan Heatherington with this group presents Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony—perhaps he’s using the bombastic choral-orchestral fifth movement to go out with a bang. $32–$54. James Lumber Center, College of Lake County, 19351 W Washington, Grayslake. lakeforestsymphony.org.

MAVERICK ENSEMBLE
5/23, 25 at 7:30 To Wake the Dead, a 1978 chamber piece based on James Joyce fragments for the Pierrot instrumentation plus mezzo-soprano, deserves wider renown. It really is a masterpiece $10–$15. Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W Chicago. maverickensemble.org.

MUSIC INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
5/18 at 7:30 The local favorite Rachel Barton Pine, violin, plays a recital focusing on lullabies. $10–$30. Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago, Evanston. musicinst.org.

MUSIC OF THE BAROQUE
5/19–20 at 7:30 Jane Glover conducts J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion. Paul Agnew, who sang the St. Matthew Passion version of the Evangelist with MOB five years ago, steps into the analogous robes as the Evangelist here. $27–$75. 5/19: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern U, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. 5/20: Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. baroque.org.

SYMPHONY CENTER
5/13 at 8 Yo-Yo Ma takes on Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major in a free concert by the Civic Orchestra, the CSO’s training ensemble. The program opens with John Luther Adams’s A Northern Suite and closes with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. 5/19 at 3 Marc-André Hamelin plays a mostly romantic program of Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel, as well as Berg and a suite of Paganini variations by Hamelin himself. $23–$85. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESENTS
5/12 at 3 The sterling Pacifica Quartet plays Smetana’s “From My Life” quartet, Janáček’s “Intimate Letters” quartet, and the Beethoven Op. 135, the latest of the late quartets.*Child Friendly. 5/10, 5/17 at 7:30 Eighth Blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet play dissertation pieces by U. of C. Ph.D. candidates. Free. 5/12: Fulton Recital Hall, U of C, 5845 S Ellis. 5/17: Logan Center, U of C, 915 E 60th. $5–$25. Logan Center, U of C, 915 E 60th. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu.
 

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