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

Music
Classical, New Music, Opera

Chicago Chorale
Chicago Chorale Photo: Jasmine Kwong
 

CHICAGO CHORALE

3/19 at 8, 3/20 at 3 This adept volunteer choir recorded Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil several years ago, and now returns to the pious a cappella masterpiece. Listen for the B-flat at the end of the fifth movement; it’s the lowest choral note in the standard repertoire. $15–$35. 3/19: St. Benedict Parish, 2215 W. Irving Park. 3/20: Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn. chicagochorale.org

CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER

3/2 at 12:15 The Lysander Piano Trio, a young chamber group with a commitment to new works, visits the weekly Dame Myra Hess concert series. Free. 78 E. Washington. imfchicago.org

CHICAGO SINFONIETTA

3/12 at 8, 3/14 at 7:30 The zesty Sinfonietta presents two percussion concertos. The first, Ricardo Lorenz’s Pataruco, revisits a 1999 Sinfonietta premiere. The second, Jennifer Higdon’s kitchen-sinky Percussion Concerto, features the CSO’s principal percussionist, Cynthia Yeh. $10–$60. 3/12: Wentz Concert Hall, North Central College, 171 E. Chicago, Naperville. 3/14: Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. chicagosinfonietta.org

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

3/1 at 7:30 The always-playful Yo-Yo Ma solos on Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in a concert led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, who also slates a Beethoven overture, Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 3, and his own Foreign Bodies. $36–$238.
3/3, 5 at 8 In the first of two programs, the very British Sir Mark Elder conducts the works of two very British composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Edward Elgar. $30–$217.
3/10, 12 at 8; 3/15 at 7:30 Elder lines up the diacritical mass of Dvořák, Bartók, and Janáček. Jeremy Denk plays Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in the Hungarian counter to the two Czech mates. $30–$217.
3/11 at 7:30, 3/13 at 3 Beyond the Score, a music and illustration series, tackles the oddball Janáček. $26–$144.
3/17 at 8, 3/18 at 1:30, 3/19 at 8 The exuberant pianist Emanuel Ax solos on Beethoven’s sunny Piano Concerto No. 4 with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. A Stravinsky scherzo precedes the concerto, and Sibelius’s weighty Symphony No. 2 follows. $34–$221.
3/24 at 8, 3/25 at 1:30, 3/26 at 8 Like the paired glass-block faces on the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, Rachmaninoff’s frantic Piano Concerto No. 3 peers across the program at Brahms’s placid Symphony No. 2. $36–$260.
3/28 at 6:30 Grieg’s String Quartet in G Minor and Brahms’s seminal Piano Quintet in F Minor combine in a CSO Chamber All-Access concert, always free and always full. Free.
3/30 at 6:30 In the Afterwork Masterworks series, Susanna Mälkki leads Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2. Wine reception and Q&A follow. $38–$98.

 

3/31 at 8 Susanna Mälkki’s keen, dramatic interpretations have won her fans worldwide, and her contemporary-music expertise injects energy into programming. Debussy’s modern Gigues and Bartók’s sharp-cornered Violin Concerto No. 2 fall right in her wheelhouse. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade forms the tail of the concert. $34–$221.

Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org

 

EIGHTH BLACKBIRD

3/25–26 at 7:30 In its fishbowl residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art, this new-music sextet has rehearsed publicly for Ghostlight, a concert anchored by the premiere of David T. Little’s piece of the same name. The group also pulled off a cross-genre coup in nabbing singer-songwriter Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy), who’ll make a surprise cameo in Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together. $10–$30. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. eighthblackbird.org

FOURTH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

3/18 at 7:30 Capping a multiyear project, the new 8,000-plus-pipe organ gets a dedication concert, wresting the title of largest organ in Chicago from Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Free. 126 E. Chestnut. fourthchurch.org

FREQUENCY

3/6 at 8:30 Flutist Emma Hospelhorn and clarinetist Katie Schoepflin, recent additions to the new-music group Ensemble Dal Niente, perform a premiere by Ben Sutherland, which also calls for their voices. $10–$15. Constellation, 3111 N. Western. constellation-chicago.com

HANDEL WEEK FESTIVAL

3/6 at 3 The third of three concerts slated for what’s more like Handel Month reconstructs the famous 1966 City Opera production of Giulio Cesare, the 17th-century composer’s most famous opera. $45–$100. Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake, Oak Park. handelweek.com

HARRIS THEATER

3/7 at 7 An impressive month of concerts opens with the finale of the CSO’s new-music series MusicNow, programmed by composers-in-residence Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek and featuring four pieces by composers under 40. Free pizza and beer follow. $26.
3/11 at 7:30 Completing its second three-year tour through Bach’s greatest orchestral-choral works, the Chicago Bach Project hews the colossal B Minor Mass from the granite of fugal counterpoint. Composer John Nelson’s formidable quartet of soloists includes rising coloratura Kathryn Lewek and veteran mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore. $25–$55.
3/12 at 7:30 Star violinist Joshua Bell moonlights as music director at the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Here he leads the academy’s orchestra with baton and bow, sandwiching his own spotlight (the Tchaikovsky violin concerto and a newly unearthed Britten arrangement of Schumann) between Prokofiev’s first symphony and Beethoven’s Eighth. $35–$125.
3/14 at 7:30 Lyric’s always-packed Beyond the Aria gives soprano Susanna Phillips and bass-baritone Christian van Horn a night off from Romeo and Juliet. $40–$500. $35–$125.
205 E. Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

HAYMARKET OPERA COMPANY

3/4 at 5:45, 3/5 at 5 This month, the enterprising opera company departs from opera for the first time to present the oratorio San Giovanni Battista, by 17th-century composer Alessandro Stradella, a story about Salome and John the Baptist. $30. 3/4: Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington. 3/5: Church of the Atonement, 5749 N. Kenmore. haymarketopera.org

LYRIC OPERA

Through 3/13 Der Rosenkavalier. Richard Strauss’s beloved opera dramatizes the complications that arise when a young lady gets a marriage proposal but falls in love with the messenger. $20–$349.
Through 3/19 Romeo and Juliet. In a perfect marriage of the Romantic era to romantic subject, Charles Gounod hews closely to Shakespeare’s story. The creamy-voiced soprano Susanna Phillips sings Juliet, and Joseph Calleja and Eric Cutler share the Romeo role. $20–$399.
Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker. lyricopera.org

 

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

3/10 at 7:30 There’s some scary music out there, but In Vain, a 21st-century work by the Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas, tops them all. The atonal large-ensemble piece plunges audiences into pitch darkness while the musicians play on, blinding them to, say, the percussionist preparing a sudden fortissimo. $5–$8. Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater, 70 Arts Circle, Evanston. music.northwestern.edu

SYMPHONY CENTER

3/6 at 3 The very young, very blond French pianist Lise de la Salle plays Ferruccio Busoni’s arrangement of a Bach chaconne, Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, and a long list of Liszt. $21–$81.
3/18 at 8 The Montreal Symphony Orchestra brings with it pianist Daniil Trifonov for Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. After Debussy’s wandering Jeux and the Prokofiev, all that’s left is Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. $41–$155.
3/22 at 8 The Civic Orchestra, the CSO’s training ensemble, intones Richard Strauss’s poem Don Juan and Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 1, as orchestrated by Schoenberg. Free.
220 S. Michigan. cso.org

WILLIAM FERRIS CHORALE

3/12 at 7:30, 3/13 at 3 Eternally pushing the envelope, this choir mounts religious works by Francis Poulenc and Arvo Pärt that deserve notice outside of classical music’s choral corner. Poulenc’s brew has the atmosphere of a forgotten, dolorous sect, and Pärt’s rings like thousands of exotic bells in a stone church. $5–$30. 3/12: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 708 W. Belmont. 3/13: St. Cletus Parish, 600 W. 55th, La Grange. williamferrischorale.org

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