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The best things to do in Chicago this month,
selected by our culture criticsNovember 2015

Music
Classical, New-Music, Opera

ACCESS CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

11/6 at 7 Seth Boustead, the charismatic founder of Access Contemporary Music and radio host for WFMT’s excellent Relevant Tones, frequently takes on the role of musical ambassador through ACM’s partnerships with composers abroad. The first installment of the season focuses on faculty composers from the University of Suwon in Korea. $8–$20. International House at University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th. acmusic.org

AVALON STRING QUARTET

11/22 at 2 Fans of Weinberg’s The Passenger, which captivated audiences at Lyric Opera last season, are in for a strong dose of Shostakovich-esque gratification with String Quartet No. 14, paired here with Beethoven’s Quartet in B-flat Major (Op. 130) and Grosse Fuge (Op. 133). Free ($18 institute admission). Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan. artic.edu

BAROQUE BAND

11/11 at 6:30 The ensemble brings the music of Brescianello, Telemann, and Handel to the Driehaus Museum this month. The former home, one of the more spectacular abodes in the city, also enjoys a fine acoustic, allowing aficionados of early music to enjoy the sumptuous sounds. $30–$35. Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie. driehausmuseum.org

CALLIPYGIAN PLAYERS

11/21–22 These early-music specialists perform Handel’s Messiah closer to its original sound, and with the splendid voices of Bella Voce handling the often-rigorous vocal parts, this is a collaboration worth seeking out. $40–$50. 11/21: Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division, River Forest. 11/22: Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut. calplayers.org

THE CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER

11/13 at 7:30 Benjamin Beilman (violin), Sean Lee (violin), Danbi Um (violin), Paul Neubauer (violin), and David Finckel (cello) play fan favorites by Dvořák, Borodin, and Leclair. $25–$55. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

11/12–14 One of the more intriguing bits of CSO programming this year is the mash-up of Strauss’s plucky Till Eulenspiegel, Mozart’s resplendent Violin Concerto No. 5, and John Adams’s own writer’s-block-buster, Harmonielehre, all with Edo de Waart at the helm. Harmonielehre gives a compelling peek into Adams’s earlier, minimalism-driven work, and concertgoers will have the opportunity to hear up-and-coming German violinist Augustin Hadelich perform the Mozart. $34–$221.

11/19–21 The classical-music version of the Robert Johnson story would undoubtedly present a violinist selling his soul to the devil in exchange for Pinchas Zukerman’s bow technique. Zukerman’s fans can see that technique up close in Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins and Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G Major, alongside works of Mozart and Tartini, with Zukerman soloing and leading the orchestra throughout. $34–$221.
Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org

FIFTH HOUSE ENSEMBLE

11/14 at 8 Fifth House Ensemble routinely creates inventive, cross-disciplinary projects, and if you haven’t yet caught the Black Violet trilogy, head out to Batavia. There, the bubonic plague of the 17th century comes to life through the eyes of a housecat, Violet, conjured up by illustrator Ezra Claytan Daniels. On this particular date, the third part of this harrowing tale will be presented atop a particle accelerator at Fermilab. $12–$23. Ramsey Auditorium, 1117 N. Washington, Batavia. fifth-house.com

A scene from ‘The Merry Widow’
The Merry Widow Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
 

FREQUENCY

11/22 at 8:30 As avid commissioners of new work for—and written by—women, the members of Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble are consistently bold in their programming, such as with the world premiere of Jennifer Jolley’s Prisoner of Conscience, which uses court transcriptions from the notorious Pussy Riot trial in 2012. $10–$15. Constellation, 3111 N. Western. constellation-chicago.com

EVGENY KISSIN

11/15 at 2 With selections from Isaac Albéniz and Joaquin Larregla, the pianist brings a touch of the Iberian Peninsula to a program composed primarily of solid-gold standards by Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. $55–$170. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org

LATINO MUSIC FESTIVAL

11/4 at 7:30 Now in its 10th year, this fest does an admirable job of assembling a lineup of known quantities and under-the-radar talent. Spanish-born pianist Mario Prisuelos has been making the international rounds of late, and while his program of Antonio Soler, Marcial del Adalid, and Enrique Granados is alluring, the more recent scores from José María Sánchez-Verdú and David del Puerto are the primo attractions. $10–$15. PianoForte Foundation, 1335 S. Michigan.

11/21 at 7:30 Classical guitarist Eduardo Fernández lays down some solid tunes by Fernando Sor, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Luys de Narváez. $10–$30. Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle, Evanston.
latinomusicfest.org

LYRIC OPERA

 

11/1–21 Wozzeck. The most compelling reason to pull on a pair of fancy pants for Lyric Opera this season arrives at the top of November, with this Alban Berg stunner. This soldier’s tale contains all the trappings of great opera—murder, heartbreak, and a sublime score.

11/14–12/13 The Merry Widow. Lyric isn’t pulling any punches in the star-power department for its installment of this Franz Lehár piece. A showstopping triumvirate of none other than Renée Fleming, Elizabeth Futral, and Thomas Hampson deliver Franz Lehár’s effervescent numbers in this charming and delightfully frivolous love story.
$20–$299. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Upper Wacker. lyricopera.org

MUSICNOW

11/23 at 7 Chicago Symphony’s new-music series embarks with a killer lineup of composers: Kaija Saariaho, Daniel Wohl, and Ted Hearne. Hearne’s aural woodchipper of a tune, Law of Mosaics, plays like someone had a caffeine-fueled manic episode with a pair of scissors in the music library, so keep an ear out for recognizable snippets from the classical repertoire. $15–$26. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. cso.org

MUSIC OF THE BAROQUE

11/29–30 Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus contains one of Western music’s most recognizable melodies and some serious choral swashbuckling; estimable conductor Jane Glover and her ensemble are just the cabal to unleash it. $27–$175. 11/29: North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie, Skokie. 11/30: Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. baroque.org

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY NEW MUSIC CONFERENCE

11/6–8 While the lectures, discussions, and workshops may appeal primarily to the hardcore crowd, the two headliner concerts are inclusive events. 11/7 Third Coast Percussion performs a new commission from Ted Hearne. Free. Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle, Evanston. 11/8 Ensemble Dal Niente plays new works featuring NU composers. $5–$8. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. music.northwestern.edu/academics/new-music/nunc

SPEKTRAL QUARTET

11/19 at 7:30 The innovative quartet plays works by Prokofiev, Schubert, Beethoven, and Cage in a program cheekily titled “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other.” $10. Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th. spektralquartet.com

UCHICAGO PRESENTS

 

11/13 at 7:30 Executive director Amy Iwano has assembled a monster roster of talent this season. While the Arcanto Quartet may be largely unfamiliar to Chicago audiences, it’s composed of four great string players. Hearing violist Tabea Zimmerman perform the opening of Smetana’s String Quartet No. 1 is alone worth the price of admission. $5–$35. Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th.

11/20 at 7:30 Keyboard ace Kristian Bezuidenhout performs works by Bach and Mozart as they would have been played in their time: on a fortepiano, the notoriously temperamental predecessor to the modern piano. $5–$35. Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th.
chicagopresents.uchicago.edu

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