Photo: Amber Davis

Cellist Matt Haimowitz is slated to perform at the Beethoven Festival this year. 

Now in its third year of an exponential-growth trajectory, the Beethoven Festival presents more than 100 events over nine days from September 7 to 15. (Counting like computer scientists, the festival heads scheduled a couple of amuse-bouches on “Day 0,” September 6.)

Here are seven highlights, in case you can’t manage to spend your entire next week and a half there:


 9/7 at 5 The opening concert foregrounds J.S. Bach instead of Beethoven, with the St. John Passion, conducted by Beethoven Festival returnee Matthias Pintscher, a German composer and conductor. (International Contemporary Ensemble will also play his music on 9/13 at 6). Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.

9/9 at 10:30 The pianist Christopher O’Riley, who also hosts the radio show From the Top, and the cellist Matt Haimovitz play arrangements of Radiohead and other rock bands. The cool kids of classical show their bona fides the next day with two programs of Beethoven’s cello sonatas. Merit School of Music, 38 S. Peoria.

9/10 at 10:30 A Beethoven Festival tradition, the Late Night Bach Project brings together period-instrument specialists for concertos and selections from The Art of Fugue. The musicians include Martin Davids and Craig Trompeter of the Callipygian Players, Rachel Barton Pine, the lutenist Hopkinson Smith, and Jerry Fuller of just about every Chicago baroque performance ever. Merit School of Music, 38 S. Peoria. 

9/12 at 8:30 A new-music concert premieres works by John Zorn, Mohammed Fairouz, Mischa Zupko (who will perform), and Wilco’s drummer Glenn Kotche (ditto). Merit School of Music, 38 S. Peoria.

9/14 at 3 The festival commissioned 28 composers to write pieces based on Beethoven’s universally familiar Fifth Symphony. The classical-tradition piano solos they’re calling bagatelles; the rock/folk/electronica/other songs, rockatelles—including another premiere from Kotche. Merit School of Music, 38 S. Peoria.

9/15 at 5 This performance of James Whitbourn’s affecting oratorio based on the diary of Anne Frank, Annelies, reassembles the shank of the forces that recorded it last year—the soprano Arianna Zukerman, the Lincoln Trio, and the clarinetist Bharat Chandra. Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.


9/15 at 7:30 Pintscher conducts the ad hoc Orchestra Prometheus Chicago in the closing concert, through Wagner’s harmonically innovative Prelude to Tristan and Isolde, Pintscher’s own Songs from Solomon’s Garden, and to send the festival out to pasture, Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony. Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.

Tickets cost $30 for a pass to all of one day’s events, or $10 for single events after 10 p.m.