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Chicago’s 27 Best Classical, New Music, and Opera Events This Month

See and hear great culture—some of it for free—around Chicago this month.

Madama Butterfly   Photo: Dan Rest

Access Contemporary Music

1/21 at 7:30 The new-music group mounts Vanishing Point, a concert highlighting the unlikely intersection between contemporary classical and pop music. The concert brings together works by rock songwriters such as Beck (his album Song Reader was released only as sheet music) with works by new-music composers. The local composer Ben Hjertman’s band Kong Must Dead closes the evening. $8–$20. Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N Ravenswood. acmusic.org

FREE!

Chicago Composers Orchestra

1/19 at 3 The city’s new-music orchestra takes its now-annual winter trip to the warmer climes of the Garfield Park Conservatory for a concert titled Amidst Lush Plantlife. The nature-loving Alaskan composer John Luther Adams appears in the program. Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N Central Park. chicagocomposersorchestra.org

FREE!

Chicago Cultural Center

1/8 at 12:15 Mirna Lekic, piano.
1/12 at 3 A duo from International Contemporary Ensemble plays works for tuba and percussion.
1/13 at 12:15 International Chamber Artists perform André Previn brass quintets and a Schumann piano quartet.
1/15 at 12:15 Asiya Korepanova, piano.
1/19 at 3 Kimberly Jones, Marisa Buchheit, and Leila Bowie, sopranos.
1/22 at 12:15 Formosa Quartet.
1/27 at 12:15 Susan Chou, piano.
1/29 at 12:15 Sean Chen, piano.
78 E Washington. explorechicago.org

Chicago Sinfonietta

1/19 at 3, 1/20 at 7:30 The lodestone of the eclectic orchestra’s annual Martin Luther King Day concert: Dutch composer Jacob ter Veldhuis’s Mountain Top, a remix of King’s “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech, given the day before his assassination. William Grant Still’s First Symphony and a gospel choir cap off the event. $10–$54. 1/19: Wentz Concert Hall, North Central College, 171 E Chicago, Naperville. 1/20: Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. chicagosinfonietta.org

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

1/24 at 8 A fixture on lists of best-ever film scores, Bernard Herrmann’s Vertigo gets the live treatment from the CSO, with the movie screening alongside. $85–$250.
1/30 at 8, 1/31 at 1:30, 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”). Cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima partners with Yo-Yo Ma to play two world premieres. $50–$285.
Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org

Elgin Symphony Orchestra

1/10–11 at 7:30, 1/12 at 2:30 The ESO’s freshman music director, Andrew Grams, steers a Scottish-themed program, with an overture by Hamish MacCunn, a fantasy by Max Bruch with violin solo, and Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony. $25–$60. 1/10: Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg, Schaumburg. 1/11–12: Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony, Elgin. elginsymphony.org

Lyric Opera

1/11–26 Madama Butterfly. Lyric hopes for the butterfly effect from soprano Patricia Racette who plays Cio-Cio San in the second remounting of Madama Butterfly (the first played in October). Racette has earned critical raves for the showstopping aria “Un Bel Di” and recorded the role with the Met Opera Orchestra in 2012. $49–$254.
Through 1/18 Die Fledermaus. Hunky baritone Bo Skovhus plays a wealthy philanderer in this famous operetta about a practical joke gone wrong. $44–$300.
Civic Opera House, 20 N Wacker. lyricopera.org

Maverick Ensemble

1/31–2/1 at 7:30 The new-music chamber group organizes a bill around Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony. It also performs works by Joan Tower and Morton Feldman. $10–$15 suggested donation. 1/31: Bethel United Church of Christ, 315 E St Charles, Elmhurst. 2/1: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W Chicago. maverickensemble.org

Music of the Baroque

1/26–27 at 7:30 This ensemble’s dirty secret: It sometimes performs music from the classical period instead of the baroque. Music director Jane Glover conducts two Handel coronation anthems, Haydn’s “La Reine” Symphony, and Mozart’s Coronation Mass. $27–$75. 1/26: North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie, Skokie. 1/27: Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. baroque.org

Pianoforte Foundation

FREE!

1/18 at 7:30 The Formosa Quartet plies its strings with the pianist Reiko Uchida in one very well known piece, Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F Minor, and one rare piece, a piano quintet by Brahms’s friend Friedrich Gernsheim. $10–$20.
PianoForte Studios, 1335 S Michigan. pianofortefoundation.org

St. Charles Singers

1/25 at 7:30, 1/26 at 3 This west suburban chamber choir has spent most of its past four seasons performing Mozart’s sacred choral works. This eighth installment includes two works identically titled Missa Brevis in C, a Regina Coeli in B-flat Major, and a Kyrie in G for five soprano voices in canon. $10–$40. 1/25: St Vincent de Paul, 1010 W Webster. 1/26: Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar, St Charles. stcharlessingers.com

Schola Antiqua

1/10 at 7:30, 1/11 at 8 If you tried to construct music history based on concert programs, you’d probably think Western music was discovered sometime around 1600. This small vocal group uses that date as its endpoint, presenting scrupulously researched early music once or twice a year. Here, the singers perform works written from the 1200s to 1400s in praise of the martyr Thomas Becket. $10–$25. 1/10: Rockefeller Chapel, U of C, 5850 S Woodlawn. 1/11: St Clement Church, 642 W Deming. chicagochant.org

Symphony Center

1/19 at 7 After last month’s Winterreise, the cycle of Schubert song cycles continues with Die Schöne Müllerin, the story of a journeyman smitten with the miller’s daughter. The baritone Matthias Goerne joins Christoph Eschenbach, the former Ravinia music director and current National Symphony Orchestra music director on piano in a bit of luxury casting. $55–$99.

FREE!

1/21 at 8 The Civic Orchestra, the CSO’s training orchestra, performs Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, and Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques, as well as a medley of orchestral excerpts by the conductor Cliff Colnot.
1/26 at 3 The enthusiastic pianist Emanuel Ax brainstormed a chamber series in which new commissions complement Brahms classics. In this first installment, he collaborates with the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter on Brahms’s Four Serious Songs and an as-yet-untitled work by Nico Muhly, the trendy composer of new-music’s fall. $10–$87.
Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org

University of Chicago Presents

1/12 at 3 The U. of C. artists in residence Pacifica Quartet play string quartets by Mozart (K. 590, written for the King of Prussia), Shostakovich (No. 7, his longest), and Brahms (No. 1 in C Minor). $5–$25. Logan Center, U of C, 915 E 60th.
1/31 at 7:30 The Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio (clarinet, cello, piano) combines works by Beethoven and Brahms. $5–$35. Mandel Hall, U of C, 1131 E 57th.
chicagopresents.uchicago.edu

Winter Chamber Music Festival

1/10–26 Chamber musicians and their fans flock to Northwestern during the coldest stretch of winter for this string-heavy three-week festival. Highlights include the Miró Quartet playing Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms in the opener (1/10 at 7:30) and the Dover Quartet playing Mozart, Shostakovich, and Mendelssohn (1/19 at 3). $10–$24 per concert, $54–$130 fest pass. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern U, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. pickstaiger.org

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