Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Robert Schumann scribbled reams of piano music: It was his sole output for the first 10 years of his career. Only one piano concerto, however, made its way into his catalog. The blazing young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov propels the powerful Concerto in A Minor into the night air, followed by Dvořák’s most famous symphony, No. 9, “From the New World.”
Details:Ravinia. 8 p.m. $10–$75. ravinia.org
Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk: First Flight
Near West Side
The behemoth Canadian circus built by scrappy buskers returns with a show inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar. Expect eye-popping visuals, contortionists, world music, and beyond-belief acrobatics in Cirque’s take on the mythical planet Pandora.
Details:United Center. $34–$130. cirquedusoleil.com
Dance in the Parks
This month-long series of free professional dance shows in Chicago parks wraps with youth performances by the Joffrey’s community engagement arm, Indian Boundary’s Musical Theater Camp, and more. Come early and bring a picnic.
Details:Various venues. Free. danceintheparks.org
Jazzin’ at the Shedd
Near South Side
The Shedd Aquarium’s outdoor Wednesday cocktail hour features performances this month by UroSoule, Petra van Nuis, Bob Davis, Chester McSwain, and others. Exhibits are open to guests, as are gorgeous evening views from the lakefront terrace.
Details:Shedd Aquarium. $18–$23. sheddaquarium.org
Danielle de Niese
Six months after portraying soprano Roxane Coss in Lyric Opera’s Bel Canto, Danielle de Niese plays herself at a recital. Her repertoire here dabbles in Dowland before getting busy with Bizet, but skips right over the baroque era, which made her famous. (De Niese, who gave birth to a son just over a year ago, has said that motherhood altered her voice).
Details:Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $10–$75. ravinia.org
Kindred the Family Soul
After a break in 2015, this husband-and-wife duo resurfaced in the spring with “All My People,” an uplifting R&B cut practically made for backyard barbecues. Their music can skew lovey-dovey for the uninitiated, but their shamelessly optimistic outlook is the right antidote for today’s often-sleazy contemporary R&B. Kindred’s sixth studio album, Legacy, drops just in time for this two-night stand.
Details:Promontory. $20–$55. ticketweb.com
Ahmed Gallab (a.k.a. Sinkane) makes more than just rock music. The Sudanese American’s mix of krautrock, free jazz, and funk sounds unlike anything on modern rock radio and continues to win fans across the globe. Expect material from Mean Love, his ’60s-drenched 2014 album, at this outdoor set.
Details:Millennium Park. Free. 6:30 p.m. cityofchicago.org
Chicago Hot Dog Fest
Toast the noble red-hot at this annual festival, scored by local bands, including the always-funky JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. Hear historians mull the lineage of encased meats, find out whether a hot dog can be considered a sandwich, and try getting to the bottom of what goes into a bratwurst.
Details:Stockton and LaSalle. Free. chicagohotdogfest.com
Grant Park Music Festival
Not a summer passes without a few ambitious premieres from Chicago’s most forward-facing classical ensemble, the Grant Park Orchestra. Here, it debuts The Cosmic Garden in Bloom, the latest of several pieces by composer Michael Gandolfi based on artworks at Scotland’s Garden of Cosmic Speculation. The orchestra and chorus also present Mozart’s Mass in C Minor.
Details:Millennium Park. $25–$89. grantparkmusicfestival.com
Olivier Meyer: Paris, Nothing New
The French photojournalist’s romantic black-and-white shots of Parisian street scenes capture the city’s everyday charms.
Details:Rangefinder Gallery. Free. tamarkin.com
A Night at the Museum
Preeminent mentoring org 100 Black Men of Chicago host this 1st annual scholarship fundraiser. Admission nets you an evening in the historic halls of the Museum of Science and Industry—chaired by Democratic States Attorney nominee Kim Foxx and Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers—with hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, and included parking.
Details:Museum of Science and Industry. $75. 100bmc.org
The Adventures of Tapman
Stage 773’s monthly kid-friendly production of The Adventures of Tapman stars the hoofin’ crime fighter Tristan Bruns, who faces his archnemesis in a tap-fueled take on superhero comics.
Details:Stage 773. 2 p.m. $6–$12. stage773.com
North Side neighbors and friends gather for a fifth year of live music, street grub, karaoke, and other street-fest standbys.
Details:Broadway at Thorndale. $5 suggested donation. edgewater.org
El Circo Cheapo Cabaret
Near West Side
Dubbed “the poor man’s Cirque du Soleil” by Time Out Chicago, this monthly DIY project from local company Aloft Circus Arts, emceed by a revolving cast of performance artists and comedians, makes for a laugh-out-loud evening of fun. The early show is kid-friendly; the late show not so much. BYOB.
Details:El Circo Cheapo Cabaret. 7 and 10 p.m. $10–$15. elcircocheapo.com
After a reunion with No Doubt at last year’s Riot Fest, Gwen Stefani returns for a solo show in a slightly less punk-rock setting.
Details:Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. 7 p.m. $20–$150. livenation.com
There’s no question that Dolly Parton has retained her characteristic charisma, energy, and sass. In an increasingly bro-dominated scene, Parton’s timeless live sets are a reminder of what country music can be when women take the reins.
Details:Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $115–$150. ravinia.org
This New Zealand pop duo earned a loyal fan base on extensive tours with the likes of such mega-pop stars as Sam Smith. After steadily releasing earworms such as 2014’s winsome “Mother & Father,” Broods returned this summer with Conscious, a sophomore LP that’s easy to love and easier to sing along to.
Details:Metro. 7:30 p.m. $28. etix.com
Chicago Musical Theater Festival
Fourteen plays by mostly Chicago composers and lyricists command the stage during this two-week showcase of new musicals. Companies including Kokandy Productions and Bailiwick Chicago cover topics from megastalkers to cancer, and the musical styles are just as varied. You never know: The next Hamilton could be lurking here.
Details:Victory Gardens Theater. $20. cmtf.org
Expect a horror-show blend of R&B, Captain Beefheart–style flourish, and wonky instrumentation from Landlady, New York’s nearly indescribable heir to the alt-rock avant garde.
Details:Constellation. 8:30 p.m. $10–$15. ticketfly.com
A group of teaching artists from the Old Town School of Folk Music presents the Exceptionals, a live music program for kids with sensory differences and special needs.
Details:Chicago Botanic Garden. 5:30 p.m. Free. chicagobotanic.org
After a decade in the R&B duo Floetry, Ambrosius went solo with a successful 2011 debut, Late Nights & Early Mornings, and its underrated follow-up, Friends & Lovers. She returns now with the reggae-tinged single “Have You Ever,” a bright departure from her R&B roots. Expect more new material at this double bill.
Details:Promontory. 7 and 10 p.m. $28–$75. ticketweb.com
Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival
The fourth annual gathering of the proudly dweeby features improv, sketch, standup, and other permutations of wit.
Details:Stage 773. $13–$60. stage773.com
The Good Person of Szechwan
Tony Kushner’s (Angels in America) masterful adaptation captures the cruel heart of this Bertolt Brecht classic, in which three deities search for goodness in mortals and only a young prostitute meets the criteria. She is rewarded by the gods, and then the story reveals the horrific lengths people will go to in order to get ahead.
Details:Cor Theatre at A Red Orchid Theatre. $10–$25. cortheatre.org
This Congolese band’s debut, From Kinsasha, blew critics away and for good reason. Long, oscillating tunes sound born out of the group’s African home but also influenced by modern music’s propensity for genre-bending.
Details:Millennium Park. 6:30 p.m. Free. cityofchicago.org
Bette, Live at the Continental Baths
Consider Bette Midler impersonator Caitlin Jackson the next best thing to the real Divine Miss M. In this re-creation of Midler’s cabaret act at New York’s Continental Baths—which also launched the career of young accompanist Barry Manilow—Jackson nails the singer’s sassy, brassy persona. Jeremy Ramey plays Manilow, right down to the towel.
Details:Hell in a Handbag Productions at Stage 773, $26–$28. stage773.com
This three-day toast to Cuban culture has grown into a massive celebration over the past seven years. Play dominoes, ride in a classic car, eat a Cubano sandwich, and, if you’re so inclined, smoke a cigar—rolled by hand, of course.
Details:Riis Park. $10. thecubanfestival.com
Ginza Holiday Festival
Guests enter this street fest, named for an ancient market district in Tokyo, through a towering torii. Inside, browse bonsai and ikebana flower arrangement demonstrations, martial arts displays, and family-recipe teriyaki from the Midwest Buddhist Temple. Don’t miss the Japanese market, featuring pottery and carvings from the Waza, a federation of Japanese artisans dedicated to reproducing Edo-period crafts.
Details:Midwest Buddhist Temple. $7–$15. ginzaholiday.com
Rules, Tools, and Fools
The Whole Earth Catalog was a groundbreaking magazine in America’s 1960s counterculture, featuring off-the-grid lifestyle equipment, such as DIY chicken coops and gardening
tools, at the dawn of the information age. This exhibit brings together a dozen artists’ responses to the zine’s theme of grassroots eco-consciousness.
Details:Spudnik Press. Free. spudnikpress.org
Bud Billiken Parade
Presented by the Chicago Defender’s charity arm, this massive event celebrates the black experience in Chicago. Expect the usual floats, bands, and dance crews, plus a healthy dose of local celebrities and politicians (previous guests include Muhammad Ali, Roy Rogers, and Barack Obama).
Details:King and Oakwood. 10 a.m. Free. budbillikenparade.org
His Majestie’s Clerkes
Old-timers may do a double-take at the name of the vocal group debuting here, the original name of the chamber choir Bella Voce. Both groups were founded by the countertenor Richard Childress, who has slimmed the Clerkes down to an all-star team of six men who will set early music next to contemporary pieces. Works by Josquin and Gabrieli show the Clerkes’ Renaissance expertise, and Howard Skempton’s setting of the Song of Songs shows the modern day.
Details:St. John Cantius Church. 7:30 p.m. $10–$20. facebook.com/hismajestiesclerkes
Kara Walker: A Proposal for a Proposal
Art collector and graphic designer Jason Pickleman opened a storefront gallery to display works from his substantial personal collection. In this exhibit, he shows mockups and original art boards from the book he designed with artist Kara Walker in 1997.
Details:Lawrence & Clark. Free. lawrenceandclark.com
Go fly a kite! Don’t have one? Swing by one of the Glencoe fest’s kite-making workshops. If you still have trouble getting off the ground, sit back and watch as the internationally renowned Chicago Fire Kite Team makes an aerial ballet in the sky.
Details:Chicago Botanic Gardens. Free. chicagobotanic.org
Join 5,000 cyclists as they take on the streets in the wee hours (about 1:15 a.m. to dawn). The horde will circle downtown on a guided 25-mile route to benefit Friends of the Parks, the green-space preservation organization most recently known for boycotting the Lucas museum. If you don’t have a bike, rent one at a discounted rate from Bobby’s Bike Hike. Those who make it to sunrise (and pitch in an extra $10) get breakfast at Buckingham Fountain.
Details:Grant Park. $45–$75. lateride.org
The MCA’s new series, Talk, emulates the behind-the-scenes types of conversations artists usually reserve for dark after-hours bars. Here, painters Michelle Grabner and Angel Otero open up about the struggles of being career artists, particular triumphs in the studio, and their myriad inspirations.
Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 3 p.m. Free with museum admission ($12 suggested). mcachicago.org
Reggae Fest Chicago
This brand-new event runs the gamut of Caribbean styles, including sets by legendary dub act Lee “Scratch” Perry, first-wave ska pioneers Hepcat, and rock-steady vets Toots and the Maytals.
Details:Addams/Medill Park. Noon. $45–$100. reggaefestchicago.com
Near West Side
This Florida party rapper may not be hip-hop’s most enlightened poet, but what he lacks in lyricism he makes up for in showmanship. For all his eccentricities, Pitbull puts spectacle front and center at his live shows.
Details:United Center. 7 p.m. $30–$140. ticketmaster.com
The young pianist takes his latest project out of the recording studio—where he’s produced four of a planned nine CDs of Beethoven piano sonatas—and into the concert hall. Over three years, Biss will perform all 32 sonatas in a series of Ravinia recitals. Among the first 14 in these concerts: No. 21 (“Waldstein”) on the 18th, No. 23 (“Appassionata”) on the 20th, and No. 14 (“Moonlight”) on the 22nd.
Details:Ravinia. $10. ravinia.org
The Fly Honey Show VII
The Inconvenience’s Erin Kilmurray presents the seventh Fly Honey Show, an alternative burlesque production rooted in body positivity and feminism.
Details:Chopin Theatre. $20–$80. theflyhoneyshow.com
Lit Crawl Chicago
Join Chicago’s thriving live lit scene on this North Side progressive.
Details:Various venues. 6 p.m. Free. litquake.org
Wizard World Comic Con
Rub shoulders with Carrie Fisher, Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson, Gillian Anderson, Norman Reedus, and Bruce Campbell at this annual ode to all things pop.
Details:Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. $40–$95. wizardworld.com/comiccon/chicago
Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Festival XXVIII
For more than 25 years, the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company has hosted this raucous 56-hour theater fest toasting the defiant iconoclast Abbie Hoffman. After this year’s event, Mary-Arrchie will shutter for good. But before then, more than 50 theater companies will gather on August 19 to march from Daley Plaza to the Den Theatre for three days of performances.
Details:Den Theatre. $10–$25. maryarrchie.com
Grant Park Music Festival
A little bit bonkers and a lot of musicians—that sums up the oeuvre of the 19th-century audodidact French composer Hector Berlioz. The Damnation of Faust, a retelling of the Goethe epic, calls for a 90-piece orchestra, full choir, and four vocal soloists, and closes this year’s Grant Park Music Festival with a ride to perdition.
Details:Millennium Park. Free. grantparkmusicfestival.com
Jaclyn Jacunski: Start Together
Jacunski creates a labyrinth of lumber and orange construction fencing to tackle land politics in Chicago—specifically, gentrification on the West Side.
Details:Chicago Artists Coalition. Free. chicagoartistscoalition.org
Chicago Air and Water Show
Every August, this gawkathon renders the North Avenue Beach all but impassible for one seemingly eternal weekend. Dozens of aircraft, including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, take off into the wild blue yonder, while air show celebrity Herb Hunter—who’s narrated the event since 1988—talks viewers through the aerial acrobatics.
Details:North Avenue Beach. Free. cityofchicago.org
Dance for Life
The gala that began in 1992 as a response to the HIV crisis in the Chicago dance community celebrates its silver anniversary with performances by Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Dance Crash, and Visceral Dance Chicago.
Details:Reception: Hilton Chicago. 5 p.m. Performance: Auditorium Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $250–$600 for reception and performance, $15–$75 for performance only. chicagodancersunited.org
Drum Roll Please
It’s not every day you see a steamroller drive over works of art. The massive and steady pressure of the rolling drum, which typically smooths asphalt, here churns out woodcut prints as large as eight feet, from progressive printmakers like Liz Born, in an outdoor spectacle that also includes food trucks and kid-friendly crafts.
Details:Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. 11 a.m. Free. chicagoprintmakers.com
It’s hard to recall a time before Janeane Garofalo reigned over comedy. She’s appeared in everything from Red Hot American Summer to The West Wing and forayed into actual politics along the way. The outspoken activist’s comedy glides gleefully across the aisle as she skewers all types of partisan buffoonery.
Details:Thalia Hall. 7 and 10 p.m. $34. thaliahallchicago.com
Jason and the Argonauts
With less fanfare than the Renée Fleming–endorsed, grand opera–grand Bel Canto, Lyric Opera has commissioned several smaller but still substantial singing dramas over the past two years, presented outside of the Civic Opera House. The latest, Jason and the Argonauts, composed by the baroque minimalist Gregory Spears, dramatizes the mythical search for the Golden Fleece for an audience of 7- to 12-year-olds.
Details:Vittum Theater. Free. lyricopera.org
Musical theater’s favorite over-the-top auntie brings the sass in this tale of a Manhattan doyenne who puts the roar in the ’20s. Light Opera Works’ 26-piece orchestra ensures that showstoppers like “Open a New Window” and “If He Walked into My Life” get the rich sonic backdrop they deserve.
Details:Light Opera Works at Cahn Auditorium. $34–$94. lightoperaworks.org
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Ravinia debut, Perlman revives the Beethoven Violin Concerto (the same piece he trotted out at his 45th Ravinia anniversary). The Chicago Symphony Orchestra serves as his backup band and then gets its own spotlight for Beethoven’s memorable Symphony No. 7.
Details:Ravinia. 7:30 p.m. $8–$125. ravinia.org
Colette Freedman’s acclaimed drama about four estranged sisters dealing with their mother’s death evokes both Anton Chekhov and Wendy Wasserstein. Sibling rivalry and revelry abound in a drama with a never-saw-that-coming plot twist. Ashley Neal directs the Chicago premiere.
Details:Chimera Ensemble at Den Theatre. $10–$26. chimeraensemble.com
Roomful of Teeth
This a cappella vocal octet makes advanced techniques for the voice, such as throat singing and yodeling, part of its performance and arranges them into pieces brimming with character. Music by one of the group’s members, the Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, shows its teeth on the program.
Details:Ravinia. 6 p.m. $10. ravinia.org
Chicago Dancing Festival
This series of freebies returns for its 10th year, featuring choreographers Joshua Beamish, Silas Riener and Rashaun Mitchell, Brian Brooks, Rennie Harris, and Aszure Barton. The Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago bookend the festival, with audience favorite Episode 31, by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, anchoring opening night.
Details:Various venues. Free. chicagodancingfestival.com
Arcade, Video and Game Room Expo 2016
Retro gamers rejoice. This massive event features more than 200 classic arcade games, all set to “free play” mode. Quarter-pushing big shots like Billy Mitchell (famously antagonized in the video game doc King of Kong) will be in attendance, along with an A-list of all-time high-score holders. If you collect vintage gaming cabinets, a variety of vendors will be there to help feed your habit.
Details:Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel. $30–$60. avgrexpo.com
He may be based in Berlin, but DJ Paypal is rooted in Chicago. His 2015 debut, Sold Out, was a quirky work rooted in Chicago footwork, but he pushed the style into strange dimensions only an outsider could.
Details:East Room. 9 p.m. $5. 1833.fm/events
The dry-martini wit of Noel Coward turns to song in Roderick Cook’s elegant revue showcasing the playwright’s whip-smart words on sex, women, England, and the follies of all. You needn’t be a Coward fan to appreciate the music—but an appetite for droll humor will help.
Details:Dead Writers Theatre Collective at Athenaeum Theatre. $22–$42. deadwriters.net
In the Wurkz
Local footwork dance trailblazer Jamal “Litebulb” Oliver and his crew, the Era, premiere this piece funded by a $15,000 Chicago Dancemakers Forum grant.
Details:Hamilton Park. Free. chicagodancemakers.org
Master Drawings Unveiled
For more than a century, the Art Institute of Chicago has quietly collected some of the world’s best drawings by Renaissance and contemporary masters. Never before displayed in the museum, the works in this treasure-hunt exhibition include the toxic gaze of Jean Delville’s La Méduse and a study for Caillebotte’s iconic 1877 painting Paris Street; Rainy Day.
Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25. artic.edu
Midnight Circus in the Parks
When the clock strikes midnight, this 10-year-old tradition takes to the high wire to raise money for the Chicago Park District. Acts include aerialists, jugglers, hoop dancers, and an impressive pooch named Junebug Jenkins.
Details:Ogden Park. $15–$20. midnightcircus.net
Chicago Fringe Festival
At times, Chicago’s greater theater scene can resemble one giant, perpetual fringe festival. The official event, however, pulls some 50 groups from across the country. With 200 shows, Jefferson Park will become Chicago’s undisputed hub for comedy, tragedy, dance, and every theatrical permutation in between. Kid-friendly productions also abound.
Details:Various venues. $36–$175. chicagofringe.org
On Friday and Saturday evenings, the Chicago Zoological Society opens a beer-and-wine garden at beautiful Brookfield Zoo, where visitors can kick back and enjoy a variety of live music, synchronized unicyclists, laser light shows, strolling magicians, and, of course, the wonders of the animal kingdom.
Details:Brookfield Zoo. Free–$18. czs.org
Learn a different type of social dance each weekend at Grant Park’s pop-up ballroom. An hour of instruction in styles including jazz, blues, ballroom, and rumba is followed by music and dancing for all.
Details:Spirit of Music Garden at Grant Park. Free. cityofchicago.org
After visiting a Costa Rican cloud forest, artists Jenny Kendler and Brian Kirkbride returned to find the Fern Room at the Lincoln Park Conservatory eerily quiet. In response, they composed synthetic bird and insect songs for this installment of the conservatory’s ongoing sound-art series.
Details:Lincoln Park Conservatory. Free. experimentalsoundstudio.org
Brick by Brick
The Museum of Science and Industry toasts all things Lego at this blocky exhibit. See “Inside the Home of Adam Reed Tucker, Lego Artist.”
Details:Museum of Science and Industry. $9. msichicago.org