Critic’s Choice

Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 12:33 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

John Adams’ “Son of Chamber Symphony” will have its Chicago premiere Saturday night at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Chicago’s 2010-2011 music season gets off to a fast start this weekend with the traditional Stars of Lyric Opera concert Saturday night likely once again to draw thousands to Millennium Park.

Yet non-operaphiles looking for something more offbeat and intimate may wish to proceed further up Michigan Avenue Saturday for the season-opening program of ICE at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The enterprising  International Contemporary Ensemble has come up with a fascinating program, titled “Roots and Return,” pairing music by contemporary composers with the works that inspired them.  Conductor Jayce Ogren and the ICE musicians will perform Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 with John Adams’ Son of Chamber Symphony, a Chicago premiere.

Also heard will be Memoriale (…explosante-fixe…originel) by Pierre Boulez with Dai Fujikura’s returning and ICE, also Chicago premieres. Concert time is 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave.

Thomas Hampson, who opens the Lyric Opera of Chicago season Oct. 1 in the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth, will provide the star power at the Millennium Park event Saturday, joined by Nadja Michael, Amber Wagner, Kyle Ketelsen, and Štefan Kocán. Amanda Majeski, Emily Fons, and René Barbera from the Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center will also perform.

The Verdi-heavy program will include selections from Macbeth, Un ballo in maschera, Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto, and La forza del destino, as well as music of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Puccini. Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric Opera Orchestra. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pritzker Pavilion, and if history is any indiction, an early arrival is best to guarantee a decent seat. Those who prefer to avoid the teeming masses in the park can listen to the live simulcast on WFMT 98.7 FM and

Alan Heatherington, Ars Viva music director, is offering an attractive French program with his “other” orchestra, the Lake Forest Symphony. Heatherington will open the 52nd season for the North Shore ensemble with Faure’s suite from Pelleas et Melisande and Saint-Saëns’ rousing Symphony No. 3. Soprano Michelle Areyzaga will be the soloist in the evening’s centerpiece, Ravel’s Sheherazade. Performance time is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts at the College of Lake County in Grayslake. 847-295-2138

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