Grant Park Music Festival to serve up a smorgasbord in 2015

Tue Jan 06, 2015 at 11:55 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Carlos Kalmar will open the Grant Park Music Festival's 81st season June 17. Photo: Norman Timonera
Carlos Kalmar will open the Grant Park Music Festival’s 81st season June 17. Photo: Norman Timonera

The Grant Park Music Festival’s 81st season will serve up a commissioned symphony premiere and a rarely heard English oratorio amid a typically deft and adventurous mix of symphonic standards and American repertory.

Carlos Kalmar, artistic director and principal conductor, will open the lakefront festival’s season June 17, kicking off ten weeks of music at the Pritzker Pavilion through August 22.

The opening week will feature Kalmar leading the world premiere of Kenji Bunch’s Symphony No. 3 Dream Songs June 19 and 20. Featuring the Grant Park Orchestra and Grant Park Chorus, the American composer’s symphony was commissioned by the festival.

James MacMillan’s Quickening will be performed June 26 and 27 with a male vocal quartet and the Anima Singers joining the lakefront forces for this Midwest premiere.

The summer will see two big choral works on the menu. Thierry Fischer will lead performances of Brahms’ German Requiem (July 17 and 18) and Kalmar will wrap the season with Elgar’s oratorio, The Kingdom (August 21 and 22). Also, Christopher Bell will once again lead the Grant Park Chorus in concerts at the South Shore Cultural Center and Columbus Park Refectory (July 21 and 23).

No arts organization in Chicago does more for American music than the Grant Park Music Festival, and such will be the case again in 2015. Kalmar will mark the centennial anniversary of David Diamond with the compose’s Rounds for string orchestra on July 3. In addition to the Bunch premiere, other American music on tap is Randall Thompson’s Symphony No. 2 (August 5), William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 3 (July 29), John Adams’ Lollapalooza (July 8) and Harmonielehre (August 7 and 8), and George Antheil’s Jazz Symphony (August 5). Also on the schedule is Gershwin’s Concerto in F (July 4), Bernstein’s Suite from Fancy Free (July 8), Andrew Norman’s Drip (June 17), Paul Schoenfield’s Four Parables (August 14 and 15), Jerry Goldsmith’s Fireworks (July 29) and Howard Hanson’s Elegy (August 19).

There will also be ample populist composers represented. The concerts will include Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 7, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Symphonic Dances, Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, Franck’s Symphony in D, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6, and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

Jazz artist Kurt Elling will perform his Passion World with Kalmar and the orchestra August 12 and Paul Gemignani will lead a Stephen Sondheim program marking the Broadway composer’s 85th birthday July 10 and 11.

Soloists next summer include pianists Inon Barnatan, Andrew Van Oeyen, Natasha Paremski, Yevgeny Sudbin and Terrence Wilson, violinist James Ehnes, violist Roberto Diaz and cellist Johannes Moser.

Vocalists include Julie Boulianne, Layla Claire, Mark Dobell, Eamonn Dougan, Jill Grove, Steven Harrold, Stephen Hegedus, David James, Caitlin Lynch, Brian Mulligan, Daniel Okulitch, Garrett Sorenson, John Tessier, and Erin Wall.

Other podium guests include Karina Canellakis, Christoph König, Ward Stare, Emmanuel Villaume and Thomas Wilkins.

All Grant Park concerts are free and open to the public. Memberships are now available for priority seating access starting at $163. Go to or call 312-742-7638.

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One Response to “Grant Park Music Festival to serve up a smorgasbord in 2015”

  1. Posted Jan 08, 2015 at 11:33 am by Cianne

    Seating prices and arrangements have changed significantly for the upcoming season. My Orange section has moved further away from the center and I must now choose which concerts I want to attend (Friday or Saturday) rather than being able to decide which performance works best for me from week to week.

    If I want that flexibility, it seems that I must donate twice what I donated last year.

    Perhaps you can find out more about these changes and give us the explanation from Grant Park Music Festival.

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