2/22 at 7:30 The large volunteer chorus’s winter concert pairs Mozart’s aptly nicknamed “Great C Minor Mass” with Dvořák’s triumphal Te Deum. $10–$30. Rockefeller Chapel, U of C, 5850 S Woodlawn. apollochorus.org
Chicago Chamber Musicians
2/9, 10 at 7:30 Works by two local composers feature on CCM’s first 2014 program. James Stephenson’s Celestial Suite for brass quintet conjures sound-paintings of five astronomers. Stacy Garrop’s The Trumpets at Jericho, a world premiere, uses two trumpets and piano accompaniment to tell the story of the walls tumbling down. Also, the oboist Alex Klein performs two Mozart works. $10–$45. 2/9: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern U, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. 2/10: Gottlieb Hall, Merit School of Music, 38 S Peoria. chicagochambermusic.org
Chicago Cultural Center
2/2 at 3 Kate Carter, former Chicago Q Ensemble violinist, and Louise Chan, piano.
2/3 at 12:15 The Avalon Quartet plays Joan Tower’s string quartet and then joins pianist Meng-Chieh Liu for early-20th-century composer Amy Beach’s piano quintet.
2/5 at 12:15 Kinga Augustyn, violin, and Matthieu Cognet, piano.
2/9 at 3 International Contemporary Ensemble.
2/10 at 12:15 Stuart Thompson, baritone, and Michael Miller, piano.
2/16 at 3 Illinois Modern Ensemble.
2/19 at 12:15 The antique-instruments ensemble Rook.
2/23 at 3 Fifth House Ensemble.
2/24 at 12:15 Carrie Schafer, trumpet.
2/26 at 12:15 For the 124th birthday of Myra Hess, the eponym of the Wednesday lunchtime free concert series, the esteemed young pianist Benjamin Hochman plays her arrangement of J. S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, along with Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn.
78 E Washington. chicagoculturalcenter.org
Chicago Opera Theater
2/15–3/5 Duke Ellington left his only opera, Queenie Pie, unfinished at his death, and attempts at reconstruction have struggled with the weird, possibly opera-satirizing plot about a top Harlem beautician and her upstart rival. Of the handful of productions mounted, none of which have played Chicago, reviewers describe the music as unmistakably Ellington, touching on his big-band vibes, his sacred music, and the orchestral sound he just called “American.” $35–$125. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. chicagooperatheater.org
Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra
2/16 at 3 After a first half of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder, artistic director Scott Speck oversees a mixed-media showcase of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully from 1670 and then Richard Strauss from the nineteen-teens. $25–$75. Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago, Evanston. chicagophilharmonic.org
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
2/1 at 8 Riccardo Muti returns for his winter residency, beginning his nonconsecutive tour of Schubert’s symphonies with Nos. 3 and 4 (“Tragic”). Cellists Giovanni Sollima and Yo-Yo Ma also pair up for a world premiere of Sollima’s concerto. $50–$285.
2/6–8 at 8 Remarkably, Muti finds time in his Schubert encyclopedism for a weekend trip to the composer’s Mass in A-Flat and Overture in the Italian Style in C Major. In between, the orchestra and Symphony Chorus perform the 9/11 commemoration Voices from the Silence, by Ennio Morricone, best known as a composer of film scores such as The Untouchables, Bugsy, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. $32–$217.
Child friendly 2/8 at 11 and 12:45 Magic Circle Mime Company and aliens descend for a show called Alien Invasion: Orchestra from Planet X, with music by American composers such as Aaron Copland, Scott Joplin, and John Williams. $6–$57.
2/13 at 8, 2/18 at 7:30 The CSO goes baroque only a few times a season, one of which comes now, with Vivaldi, Handel, and J. C. Bach butting up against arias originally written for castrato, here performed by a mezzo-soprano. Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 (“Military”) ends the night. $31–$218.
2/14 at 7:30, 2/16 at 3 The Beyond the Score program delves into the “Military” Symphony, with actors, illustrations, and live musical examples. $24–$151.
Critic’s Pick 2/20 at 8, 2/21 at 1:30, 2/22 at 8, 2/25 at 7:30 The cancellation rate of orchestral conductors, generally no spring chickens, rises as they age. Pierre Boulez, 88, hasn’t led the CSO in three years, after scrubbing two consecutive residencies. If he makes it to this concert of Debussy, Ravel, and a string of Stravinsky shorts, catch it. $27–$214.
Free! 2/26 at 6:30 Fully booked at presstime, this edition of the All-Access Chamber series includes CSO strings on Ravel’s string quartet, Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for String Quartet, and Beethoven’s late quartet Op. 132.
2/27–3/1 at 8 Boulez’s second program eschews the two-big-works approach to programming in favor of three pieces by Ravel and five by Stravinsky. $28–$214.
Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org
Elgin Symphony Orchestra
2/7–8 at 7:30, 2/9 at 2:30 The trumpeter Brandon Ridenour left the Canadian Brass, arguably the world’s top brass quintet, last spring after seven years. Now solo but not yet 30, he travels to the northwestern suburbs to toot out Vivaldi’s Agitata da due venti and his own composition Fantasy Variations on a Theme by Paganini, a world premiere here. $25–$60. 2/7: Batavia Fine Arts Centre, 1201 Main St, Batavia. 2/8–9: Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony, Elgin. elginsymphony.org
2/2 at 8:30 The rarely assembled new-music saxophone ensemble Anubis Quartet comes together for a program that includes Monte Weber’s Lucidity, for saxophones, soprano, and electronics. $5–$10.
2/9 at 8:30 The vibrant string group Spektral Quartet sets Bach’s Art of Fugue against Shulamit Ran’s Bach-Shards and movements from Ligeti, late Beethoven, and Chicago’s own Marcos Balter. $10.
2/16 at 8:30 Fonema Consort, a new-music group dedicated to works incorporating the often-neglected voice, premieres Alexander Sigman’s Epiglottis in a program called Amplified. $10.
2/23 at 8:30 The soprano Amanda DeBoer Bartlett of Ensemble Dal Niente sings/whispers/shrieks/coughs/whoops the contemporary solo-voice tour de force Récitations, by Georges Aperghis. $10.
Constellation, 3111 N Western. constellation-chicago.com
2/16–3/2 The 15th annual celebration of G. F. Handel actually spans three weekends, with one concert per weekend. First, Mozart’s unfamiliar beefed-up version of Messiah. Second, smaller-scale cantatas for soprano, oboe, and continuo. Third, a remount of the festival’s first concert, with the popular Music for the Royal Fireworks, two coronation anthems, and the brassy Dettingen Te Deum, for chorus and orchestra. $30–$45. Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake, Oak Park. handelweek.com
2/1–28 The Barber of Seville. Beefcake baritone Nathan Gunn plays Figaro in Lyric’s new production of this popular opera, reprising his 2008 role. Not sure how the director might arrange for Gunn to take off his shirt, but listen well, Lyric—that is what the people want. $20–$274.
2/22–3/16 Rusalka. Dvořák’s opera, never before staged at Lyric, tells the dark fairy tale of the water nymph Rusalka, who falls in love with a prince and wishes to become human. Ana María Martínez, who sang Desdemona in Otello earlier this season, plays the title role. $44–$274.
Civic Opera House, 20 N Wacker. lyricopera.org
2/3 at 7 Mason Bates and Anna Clyne, the CSO’s two composers in residence, occupy two-thirds of Folk Songs, the third of four concerts in the orchestra’s new-music series. Clyne’s world premiere piece, Postponeless Creature, sets the poetry of Emily Dickinson to music. $10–$25. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. cso.org/musicnow
2/7–8 at 7, 2/9 at 2 As with aces and eights or Our American Cousin, sometimes circumstantial details travel along with history. Here, this early-music group has cobbled together the program from the February 1454 Feast of the Pheasant, a banquet drumming up enthusiasm for a crusade against the Turks, with entertainment including motets by Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois. $35–$45. Locations: newberryconsort.org
2/9 at 7 To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Alice Millar Chapel, Northwestern pulls out all the stops on Louis Vierne’s Marche Triomphale, for brass, timpani, and organ, and premieres Chapel Music: Five Diverse Songs for Chorus and Orchestra, by Joseph Schwantner, an NU grad, Chicago native, and Pulitzer winner. Freewill donations. Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan, Evanston.
2/27–3/2 Since its 1998 premiere, Mark Adamo’s opera Little Women has scored dozens of repeat performances. The accessible and maybe the tiniest bit cloying score strikes operagoers as modern but not scary. $7–$16. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. pickstaiger.org
2/1 Franz Schubert apparently threw great parties. Not quite two centuries after his too-young death, his shindig legacy lives on in the Schubertiade, a chamber-music-focused get-together celebrated all over the world, but specifically by PianoForte near his birthday, January 31, in a day of drop-in concerts and Viennese coffee and sweets from Julius Meinl. PianoForte Studios, 1335 S Michigan. pianofortefoundation.org
2/9 at 3 How old can a prodigy get before people stop mentioning his age at every opportunity? Older than 22, that’s for sure. The 22-year-old pianist Daniil Trifonov plays a recital of shorter Stravinsky, Debussy, and Ravel works, then caps it off with Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes. $20–$78.
2/12 at 8 Joshua Bell performs Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in G Major, Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss divertimento, and Giuseppe Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill” Sonata, which has a Robert-Johnson-at-the-crossroads dream behind its composition. $35–$111.
Free! 2/17 at 8 Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the CSO’s training orchestra, plays Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 and Brahms’s Serenade No. 1 in a D-Major smackdown
2/21 at 8 In his second installment of chamber programs pairing Brahms with complementary new commissions, Emanuel Ax teams up with Yo-Yo Ma for Brahms’s Cello Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 and a new work by the Swedish composer Anders Hillborg, in the process also setting a record for the shortest-surnamed chamber duo in history. $76–$195.
Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org
University of Chicago Presents
2/4 at 7:30 Contempo, the U. of C.’s new-music series, convenes some of Chicago’s contemporary specialists, Eighth Blackbird, Anubis Quartet, and the mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley among them. Composers on the program include the Australian Brett Dean and the local Augusta Read Thomas. $5–$25. Logan Center, U of C, 915 E 60th.
2/21 at 7:30 The ascendant ensemble Third Coast Percussion brings another Augusta Read Thomas composition, Resounding Earth, to Chicago for the first time after touring it around the country. The piece calls for more than 100 bells from global traditions, such as Burmese spinning bells, Thai gongs, and Japanese singing bowls. $5–$25. Logan Center, U of C, 915 E 60th.
2/22 at 2 Third Coast Percussion puts on a family concert, with an instrument petting zoo to follow. $5–$10. Logan Center, U of C, 915 E 60th.
2/28 at 7:30 If you’re a fan of the 18th-century composer Nicola Porpora, this is your month. The now-obscure Neapolitan, known for arias for castrato, appears not only on the CSO’s 2/13 and 2/18 program but also in profusion here in a recital by the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, accompanied by the Venice Baroque Orchestra. Handel also features. $5–$35. Mandel Hall, U of C, 1131 E 57th.