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

Classical, New Music, Opera

Juilliard String Quartet
Juilliard String Quartet Photo: Courtesy of Ravinia Festival


6/1, 3–4 at 7:30 The locally beloved violinist Rachel Barton Pine limns lilting concertos by the baroque virtuosos Pietro Locatelli and Jean-Marie Leclair. $17–$39. Various locations. baroqueband.org


6/8 at 12:15 The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts series hosts a lunchtime concert by Seraph Brass, an all-female brass quintet. Free. 78 E. Washington. choosechicago.com


6/2–4 at 8, 6/7 at 7:30 Christoph von Dohnányi, the longtime music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, conducts the first of two Teutonically titanic programs. Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 (“Prague”) and Beethoven’s underplayed No. 2 bookend Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3, played by the CSO’s own Daniel Gingrich. $34–$217.
6/9 at 8, 6/10 at 1:30, 6/11 at 8 Dohnányi’s second program places Mozart’s 25th and 41st (“Jupiter”) around Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with the young Martin Helmchen soloing. $36–$260.


6/16 at 8, 6/17 at 1:30, 6/18 at 8, 6/21 at 7:30 Riccardo Muti ascends the podium for his final residency of the season, pairing Beethoven’s violin concerto, interpreted by the preposterously gifted Julia Fischer, with Brahms’s Serenade No. 1 for orchestra. $36–$260.

6/23 at 8, 6/25 at 8, 6/26 at 3 To close the season, Muti calls up Bruckner, an architect of bigness whose music has taken a back seat to Mahler’s in that category with the CSO. Bruckner’s unfinished Symphony No. 9 blocks out one half of the concert, his Te Deum for chorus, vocal soloists, and orchestra the other. $34–$221.
Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org



6/5 at 8:30 The dynamic quartet Third Coast Percussion has graduated to larger venues than Constellation. This concert offers a rare opportunity to catch the magic up close and personal for those unafraid of sitting face to face with the clangor. $10–$20.

6/12 at 8:30 Spektral Quartet premieres two new commissions: Mikel Kuehn’s String Quartet No. 1 (“If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” titled after the novel by Italo Calvino) and Sam Pluta’s Binary/Momentary Logics: Flow State/Joy State. $10–$15.
Constellation, 3111 N. Western. constellation-chicago.com


6/15 at 6:30 Chicago’s low-budget, high-culture fete begins its two-month picnic with an amuse-bouche called Essay No. 2 by Samuel Barber, one of artistic director Carlos Kalmar’s favorite composers. Then the pianists Andrew von Oeyen and Anne-Marie McDermott return to the festival to play Francis Poulenc’s angular Concerto for Two Pianos. The opener closes with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Free.
6/17–18 Works by two living Americans—Aaron Jay Kernis’s Whisper, Echo, a Cry and Michael Torke’s Book of Proverbs—sandwich Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. Free.
6/24 at 6:30, 6/25 at 7:30 Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, nicknamed “Tragic,” fills a program with 80 minutes of vast orchestration including four each on woodwinds, a mass of brass, two harps, and a giant hammer and other percussion. Free.
6/29 at 6:30 Kalmar flips the overture-concerto-symphony formula, stacking Rimsky-Korsakov’s suite Antar with Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, played by the young Finn Juho Pohjonen, and then the rock-music-inspired frippery Thunderstuck by Christopher Rouse. Free.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph. grantparkmusicfestival.com


6/7 at 7:30 Fresh off winning an award from the Illinois Council of Orchestras, this volunteer ensemble resurrects Symphony No. 2 by Ferdinand Ries, an early-19th-century composer now overshadowed by Beethoven. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, never out of style, caps the night. $15–$20. Nettelhorst Auditorium, 3252 N. Broadway. lakevieworchestra.org


6/11 at 4 The publicity blurb for Ben Vida’s Reducing the Tempo to Zero may hint that it’s long, but mercifully, Vida built the piece, for four vocalists and electronics, so that listeners could come and go, choosing how long to engage—and in this case, how to navigate the gallery housing the performance. Free. Graham Foundation, 4 W. Burton. lampo.org



6/21 If you notice the sun approaching its zenith, it’s time for the annual solstice celebration on June 21 (although this year the astronomical event actually happens on June 20). The mix of events includes participatory orchestra and choir, along with professionals performing free shows all around town, including violin soloist Augustin Hadelich playing Russian music at St. James Cathedral at 5:45 (65 E. Huron) for Rush Hour Concerts. Free. Various locations. makemusicchicago.org


6/6 at 7 The CSO’s new-music series, curated by its composers-in-residence, Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek, closes its season with Qasim Ali Naqvi’s extended-techniques choral piece Fjoloy, a premiere by Adams, and Tristan Perich’s Surface Image, a piece written for piano and 40 channels of beeping speakers, filling the soundspace with a cacophony of telegraphs. It lasts a love-it-or-hate-it 63 minutes. $15–$26. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. cso.org/musicnow


6/8, 10–11 Violinist Vadim Gluzman and pianist Angela Yoffe mark six years of their three-concert, small-ensemble party. The zippy Ariel String Quartet returns, sending musicians to all three concerts. Repertoire highlights include Dvo?ák’s excellent Piano Quintet in A Major, Max Bruch’s soulful Octet for Strings, and Schubert’s peerless String Quintet in C Major. $15–$110. Village Presbyterian Church, 1300 Shermer, Northbrook. nscmf.org


6/10 at 6 A new aquatic sculpture reigns over the entrance to Ravinia, and the festival pays homage to it this summer with water-themed programming. The Sri Lankan–Monacan pianist Shani Diluka opens with a recital featuring Chopin’s “Raindrop” prelude and pieces by Debussy, Liszt, and Schubert. $10.


6/10 at 7:30 Witness the Chicago premiere of Water Passion After St. Matthew, by the Chinese composer Tan Dun. The piece employs not only a chorus and orchestra but also a set of water bowls, played by percussionists and lit from below to cast ripples on the ceiling. $10–$60.

6/15 at 8:30 The Minnesota-based choir the Singers performs Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, the bass-great masterwork often incompletely called “Vespers.” $10–$60.
6/16 at 8 The Chicago Sinfonietta plunges in with selections from Handel’s Water Music, alongside crowd pleasers such as Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Tchaikovsky’s canonical “1812 Overture.” $10–$40.
6/27 at 7:30 The Juilliard String Quartet, a top-tier chamber group through its seven-decade existence, says both hello and goodbye in a concert featuring its retiring cellist, Joel Krosnick, and his replacement, Astrid Schween. Quartets by Mozart and contemporary composer Richard Wernick are mixed in with the Schubert String Quintet in C Major. $10–$60.
200 Ravinia Park, Highland Park. ravinia.org


6/7 at 5:45 The series of home-before-dark freebies begins with the able Avalon String Quartet on Leoš Janá?ek’s String Quartet No. 2 (“Intimate Letters”). Free.
6/21 at 5 See “Make Music Chicago.”
6/28 at 5:45 Third Coast Percussion snaps, crackles, and pops up again at a Chicago performance.
St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron. rushhour.org


6/5 at 3 David Fray, the emotive French pianist who also happens to be Riccardo Muti’s son-in-law, plays a recital that veers from Bach preludes to austere works by Pierre Boulez and Arnold Schoenberg, then back to Brahms’s comfortable 7 Fantasies (op. 116). $21–$81.
6/6 at 8 Lyric and the CSO set up their training ensembles, the Ryan Opera Center Ensemble and the Civic Orchestra, on a date. Lyric’s Sir Andrew Davis chaperones. Free.
6/12 at 3 The always-inclusive Yo-Yo Ma gathers a bellowing of cellos for A Distant Mirror. Details are scant, but when Ma and friends played this program in Boston, it included works from Poland, China, and Western Europe, contemporary arrangements of Persian melodies, and an Incan processional carrying the cellos. $50–$144.
Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org


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