After a Covid hiatus, the Ravinia Festival will return in July

Thu May 06, 2021 at 7:00 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Garrick Ohlsson will perform four programs devoted to Brahms’ piano music at the 2021 Ravinia Festival. Photo: Dario Acosta

In the third major reopening announcement in as many days, the Ravinia Festival released details of its 2021 season Thursday.

Last year the entire Ravinia summer festival was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Like the Grant Park Music Festival, announced Wednesday, the Highland Park concert series is planning a cautious return to live-music-making.

“More than ever before, we look forward to welcoming audiences back to Ravinia to be re-inspired by live music together,” said Jeffrey P. Haydon, who is helming his first season as Ravinia president and CEO.

“While this year’s experience may be a little different, we look forward to continuing one of Chicagoland’s favorite summertime traditions with music under the stars.”

Among the changes at Ravinia this year will be shorter concerts without intermission, reduced audience capacity, and shortened park hours prior to concerts.

There will be no indoor events this summer. All public performances will take place either on the stage of the open-air pavilion or on the North Lawn at the Carousel.

The classical season will open July 1 with Garrick Ohlsson. The popular American pianist will mark the 40th anniversary of his Ravinia debut with a four-concert series exploring Brahms’ solo keyboard music (continuing July 5, 7 and 12).

Chief conductor Marin Alsop will lead seven of the 15 Chicago Symphony Orchestra programs this summer. The CSO weeks will open July 9 with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with Jorge Federico Osorio as soloist. Other soloists this summer include violinists Midori, Joshua Bell and William Hagen, pianist Lukáš Vondráček, soprano Julia Bullock and clarinetist Anthony McGill.

Returning guest conductors include former Ravinia music director James Conlon, Pinchas Zukerman, and Michael Stern. Making their CSO podium debuts will be Yue Bao, Jonathan Rush, and George Stelluto.

In one welcome new development for those who take Metra Rail to the park, all trains on the Union Pacific North line will honor Ravinia tickets as train fares. Patrons can show their concert e-ticket for a free train ride to and from the park on concert days.

There will also be the usual variety of jazz, pop and crossover events throughout the summer.

Tickets go on sale June 16 for events between July 1 and August 15, and July 21 for concerts after August 15. Go to

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