Critic’s Choice

Tue May 03, 2016 at 2:41 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Photo: Rachel Schimelman
Photo: Rachel Schimelman

Nicholas Phillips earned widespread acclaim for “American Vernacular,” his 2014 recording of newish piano music by homegrown composers

The Wisconsin-based musician has embarked on a sequel to that admirable enterprise, titled “New Playlist,” with a follow-up tour of more American piano music, which will also be recorded. That tour, which is funded in part by a grant from the American Music Project, will bring him to Chicago Friday night.

Phillips will perform works of contemporary American composers, including Stacy Garrop, Doug Opel, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Joel Puckett, Judd Greenstein, Jonathan Pieslak, Mark Olivieri and Carter Pann. Concert time is 7:30 p.m. at PianoForte Studios.


Donald Runnicles’ last appearance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was in 2014 subbing for an ailing Jaap van Zweden, and the majestic Mahler 5 he and the CSO delivered was a highlight of the season.

This week the Scottish conductor returns as a scheduled podium guest–his first such CSO stand in 16 years— with a program that fits Runnicles’ musical sensibilities nicely: Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration.

Concert times are 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. 312-294-3000.

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