Carlos Kalmar will depart the Grant Park Music Festival after 2024 season

Tue Jun 22, 2021 at 12:01 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Carlos Kalmar will pass the baton of the Grant Park Music Festival after his 25th season at the helm.

For fans of Carlos Kalmar, the Grant Park Music Festival, has some good news and not-so-good news.

The good news is that the contract of the popular conductor has been extended through 2024 and Kalmar will continue as artistic director and principal conductor of the lakefront festival for another four seasons.

The less-good news is that 2024 will be Kalmar’s final season at the helm of the Chicago festival. Still, there is a silver lining in that after Kalmar completes his 25th season that year, he will assume the title of conductor laureate and return regularly to conduct the Grant Park Orchestra beginning in 2026.  

“Making music with the Grant Park Music Festival has been a great joy for me and I can’t wait to return to the Pritzker stage this summer,” said Kalmar in a statement released by the festival “I am so grateful for the extraordinary artistic partnership I have had with the Festival, and will always love this orchestra and chorus, along with the audiences of Chicago.”  

“Throughout his tenure, Carlos has transformed the Grant Park Music Festival into one of the country’s premiere musical institutions,” said festival president and CEO Paul Winberg. “It has been a great privilege to work closely with him over the past decade and support the Festival’s vision of sharing great musical performances with audiences of all backgrounds and means.”  

Kalmar, who first appeared as a festival guest conductor in 1998, was named principal conductor in 2000, later adding the role of artistic director in 2011. Kalmar’s programming has set the standard in Chicago with a smart mix of orchestral standards, lesser-heard choral works and rarities that consistently rise above standard summer-concert fare.

While American music continues to be a low priority at the city’s larger musical institutions, Kalmar has excelled in performing both current composers and neglected American works of the past with the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.

The 2021 Grant Park Music Festival opens July 2-3 with Carlos Kalmar and chorus director Christopher Bell jointly leading an Independence Day program at the Pritzker Pavilion. grantparkmusicfestival.com 

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