Forget that “extended lunch break” you were planning: You won’t have to play hooky this year to indulge in a bonanza of free classical and new music. Make Music Chicago, the Loop’s behemoth solstice celebration, falls on a Saturday (June 21) for the first time since its launch in 2011. The fest’s organizers (Rush Hour Concerts, a Chicago-based nonprofit) promise a mind-boggling 200 performances—some of them intriguingly wacky—across 80 locations in 12 hours. While the full schedule won’t be posted until the 11th hour (at makemusicchicago.com), here is a map of some of the events to put on your shortlist.
Organ Crawl: Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. you can hear some of the largest and most impressive organs in the city—not that size matters—at St. James Cathedral, St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church, and Fourth Presbyterian Church.
Soprano Christine Goerke
Her voice: Big. Last year, the Sun-Times critic Andrew Patner compared the 45-year-old Long Island native, “with a voice that never shrieks but that can cut through any accompaniment,” to powerful Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson.
Her future star turn: Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Ring cycle at the Lyric from 2017 to 2020. She found out during last season’s run of Elektra that she got the part. “Anthony Freud [Lyric’s general director] caught me heading backstage. I burst into tears like a big sissy.”
Her mysterious schedule: “We aren’t allowed to announce appearances until the companies announce, so we’re constantly sitting on info we’re dying to scream from the rooftops. There’s a chance I might be back again before 2017…”
Three great classical programs under the stars
July 11 at 6:30 p.m. and July 12 at 8 p.m.
The sparkling conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta leads the Grant Park Orchestra in Holst’s orchestral suite The Planets. choosechicago.com
Chicago Sympphony Orchestra
July 11 at 8 p.m.
At Ravinia, the CSO excerpts “Mars,” “Uranus,” and “Jupiter” from The Planets. ravinia.org
July 16 at 6:30 p.m.
The Composer and conductor leads the Grant Park Orchestra in his music from the BBC/Discovery series Blue Planet, as underwater images screen alongside. grantparkmusicfestival.com