Grant Park Music Festival scrambles due to visa problem; Levine to return to Ravinia in 2016

Wed Jun 24, 2015 at 8:35 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

James Levine
James Levine

*A government computer breakdown has necessitated some scrambling by the Grant Park Music Festival for this weekend’s concerts.

The New York Times reported Monday that the State Department has been unable to issue visas for the past two weeks due to a computer problem that remains unresolved. The issue is not expected to be fixed until next week.

Among those unable to obtain visas were the four British singers (David James, Steven Harrold, Mark Dobell and Eamonn Dougan) who were to perform James MacMillan’s Quickening at this weekend’s festival concerts.

Rather than cancel this Midwest premiere, Grant Park Chorus director Christopher Bell has corralled a lineup of local artists to perform the work’s male quartet part: tenors Hoss Brock and Klaus Georg, counter-tenor Ryan Belongie and bass-baritone David Govertsen.

The program, which will be led by Carlos Kalmar and performed 6:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, also includes the Prelude to Act I of Wagner’s Parsifal and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 “Reformation.”

Carlos Kalmar leads the Grant Park Orchestra 6:30 p.m. tonight in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Walton’s Viola Concerto with soloist Roberto Diaz.

*James Levine will return to the Ravinia Festival in 2016, the North Shore summer festival announced Wednesday.

Levine, who served as Ravinia music director from 1973 to 1993, has not appeared at the Highland Park concert series in 22 years since departing to conduct at the Bayreuth Festival and concentrate on his Metropolitan Opera duties.

Levine will lead a single performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 on July 23, 2016. That’s the same work with which the then-28-year-old conductor made his Ravinia debut June 24, 1971, forty-four years to the day of Wednesday’s announcement.

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