Introduction and Allegro

Fri May 08, 2009 at 4:50 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Welcome. Today marks the launch of Chicago Classical Review, a website devoted to covering the rich panoply of classical music throughout the city.

Lawrence A. Johnson

 A brief introduction, or reintroduction, is probably in order.  I’m a native Chicagoan and have been a working journalist for nearly two decades. I was a regular freelance music critic for the Chicago Tribune in the 1990s, backing up my friend and mentor, John von Rhein.  I left Illinois in 2000 to take a position as classical music critic of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where I stayed for six years. In 2006, I was hired by the Miami Herald as their classical critic, the paper’s editors assuring me of their renewed commitment to classical coverage with the opening of Miami’s new performing arts center; eighteen months later the Herald eliminated that position.

With no full-time classical critics in the entire region, last summer I started South Florida Classical Review to fill the void, and that website is now the leading source for South Florida classical coverage.

After a visit to Chicago last November to catch Lulu and Porgy and Bess at the Lyric Opera—and Bernard Haitink conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler—I realized how deeply I missed my hometown and all it has to offer. With the current extreme volatility of the newspaper business and continuing cutbacks in cultural coverage, I believe the wealth and variety of music events in a major arts center like Chicago require and, indeed, demand more extensive coverage.

Chicago Classical Review is not a personal blog, online diary, marketing tool or site for epigrammatic solipsisms. What CCR will offer is intelligent, opinionated, and independent coverage of classical music throughout Chicagoland, with performance reviews, advances, profiles, CD reviews, and news of interest to Chicago’s classical community and audiences. The major organizations will be covered, of course, but Chicago Classical Review will also seek out offbeat and unusual events by smaller startup groups that are likely to be overlooked. As editor and lead critic, I’ll be the site’s most visible presence, but in the coming weeks and months, other local writers will weigh in as well.

A worthy journalism website thrives on interactivity and lively debate, and I encourage readers to use the Comments function to respond, suggest, debate, agree, disagree, or argue, as long as posted remarks are made in a civil and responsible manner.

A couple business notes: This website is supported by advertising revenue. Banner ads are by no means limited to classical organizations or arts presenters, and any individual, company or foundation that would like to be a sponsor, can click on the email link at the bottom of the homepage.

Also, please submit items for calendar consideration to the same email address two weeks in advance, preferably pasted in the body of an email rather than as an attachment. Sending event information in a Word document close to the form you see on the site will facilitate timely posting.

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