The 2013 Ravinia Festival season is jam-packed with stars including Matchbox 20, Yo-Yo Ma, Josh Groban and Sheryl Crow. Sting fans will also be excited to know that he’ll be returning for his second Ravinia engagement. But you may not be able to get tickets unless you have deep pockets. When Sting came in 2010, all of his tickets had been sold out to Festival donors and fan club members by the time sales opened to the general public. This year, Ravinia is featuring in-demand stars including Sting, Groban, and Darius Rucker on its homepage with the caveat, “Tickets for these concerts will be in high demand. For best purchasing opportunities, become a supporter of the not-for-profit festival today.” Luckily, the 2013 season has such an incredible roster of musicians from every genre that even if you can’t see Sting, you’re sure to find something else you’ll enjoy.
Plethora of Pop Acts
Fans can take a retro ride to the 80s and 90s with this summer’s selection of pop artists. Bands appearing for the first time at Ravinia will include The Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty on a double bill for two performances, July 2 and 3; Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon and Fastball appearing together on July 20; and Heart with special guest Jason Bonham on July 29.
Returning rock acts include the aforementioned Sting as part of his Back to Bass Tour on June 7 and 8; Chicago on Aug. 24 and 25; Sheryl Crow with special guest Kristen Kelly on July 19; Ian Anderson, leader and flutist of British rock band Jethro Tull, will perform the band’s 1972 number-one album Thick as a Brick and the 2012 solo follow-up, Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock, on July 22; and Steely Dan for two performances on Aug. 1 and 2.
Other notable premieres include Melissa Etheridge on a quadruple bill with Paula Cole and Joan Osborne and opening act Jessie Payo on June 29. Classical crossover crooner Josh Groban makes his festival debut on Aug. 10 with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra.
Ravinia’s classical cornucopia features stars from Chicago and around the world. Many of these concerts will be more affordable than ever before. 2,500 Pavilion seats at every Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert are priced at just $25 each. Kids and students through college are admitted free to the lawn for all classical concerts, and reserved seats will cost $10 for Bennett Gordon Hall concerts.
Yo-Yo Ma will perform the Midwest premiere of his latest genre-bending project, The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Akin to his Silk Road Project, the 2013 Grammy-winning bluegrass project allows cellist Yo-Yo Ma to cross cultural and artistic borders with Nickel Creek mandolinist Chris Thile, bassist Edgar Meyer, fiddler Stuart Duncan and special guest vocalist Aoife O’Donovan.
Two of Ravinia’s special projects feature the common theme of passion. Under the direction of conductor Grant Gershon, the Chicago Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale will present the Midwest premiere of a new Passion, John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary. The Sept. 7 concert will feature the conductor, soloists and chorus for whom the piece was composed. The cast includes mezzo-sopranos Kelley O’Connor and Tamara Mumford, tenor Russell Thomas and countertenors Brian Cummings, Daniel Bubeck and Nathan Medley. Chicago new music ensemble Eighth Blackbird will perform the Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, The Little Match Girl Passion. Composer David Lang reimagined this classic children’s fairy tale as a Passion parable. The work is receiving its Ravinia premiere on Aug. 26 in the Martin Theatre.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform with renowned soloists from around the world. Violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov returns to the United States for his first Ravinia concert since 1995 to perform on July 18. He will also give a Martin Theatre recital with pianist Itamar Golan on July 15. Legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman will perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto on Aug. 7. The next night, Aug. 8, Perlman will conduct the CSO on a program that features the debut performance of cellist Alisa Weilerstein playing Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D Major. Superstar piano virtuoso Lang Lang will join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a gala performance on Saturday, July 27. Hosted by the Women’s Board of Ravinia Festival, the annual Gala Benefit Evening is the only performance fundraiser benefiting the not-for-profit festival, especially its mission to bring music back to the schools through its REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs.
Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall $10 concert series will include performances by native Chicagoans. The Lincoln Trio (violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe and pianist Marta Aznavoorian) will collaborate with 2011 Primrose Viola competition-winner Ayane Kozasa in a unique “audience request” program on Aug. 15 in Bennett Gordon Hall. Following a performance of Turina’s complete piano trios, the group will return after intermission to perform pieces selected by the audience through online voting. Violin virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine will tackle all 24 of Paganini’s caprices—each testing a different skill of the musician—on Aug. 17 and reprises the program on Aug. 18.
Country & Bluegrass Blast
Ravinia’s country offerings include several artists who will perform at the festival for the first time. Former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker makes his solo debut on a triple bill with Rodney Atkins and Jana Krameron on June 28; and Alabama makes its festival debut on Aug. 30 as part of its Back to Bowery Tour celebrating the band’s 40th anniversary.
Willie Nelson returns to Ravinia on July 14. He’ll be joined by special guest and his son Lukas Nelson with Lukas’s band P.O.T.R.
Ravinia has added a country music show to its $10 Bennett Gordon Hall concert Series. The Nashville Songwriters performance features award-winning country music songwriters/musicians Big Al Anderson, Tim Nichols, Rivers Rutherford and Hank Adam Locklin, the minds behind such hits as Tim McGraw’s “The Cowboy in Me” and “Live Like You Were Dying” and Brooks & Dunn’s “Ain’t Nothing ‘bout You,” on Aug. 23.
This season’s series honors a jazz legend and features the return of beloved artists.
Ravinia will pay tribute to the 75th anniversary of Benny Goodman’s Ravinia debut on June 14. Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg has assembled the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, singers Sylvia McNair and Cyrille Aimée and clarinetists Anat Cohen, Larry Combs and Eric Schneider to honor the jazz legend who performed at Ravinia 12 times between 1938 and 1982. Ravinia will construct a 40×60-foot dance floor on the lawn so audiences can swing to the concert, and The Women’s Board of Ravinia Festival will host a dance contest with prizes in several categories.
Other jazz performers include Chicago native and Ravinia’s artistic director of jazz, Ramsey Lewis, performing on Aug. 28 with jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and the legendary Tony Bennett on Aug. 22. In addition,switch to explore jazz musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (RSMI), the festival’s summer music conservatory celebrating its i25th anniversary in 2013, will present a jazz showcase on June 14.
Rhythm & Blues
The festival’s rhythm and blues concerts include one debut and several returning musicians. Sharon Jones makes her Ravinia premiere with the Dap-Kings on June 25. This concert is a double bill with blues musician James Hunter. Legendary Chicago native Buddy Guy will perform on a double bill with “Bad to the Bone” artist George Thorogood & the Destroyers on Aug. 17; R&B singer Anita Baker returns to Ravinia on July 13.
Around the World with Ravinia
Ravinia’s celebration of world music kicks off with Celtic Woman, in its Ravinia debut on June 12. Returning artists include Gipsy Kings on Aug. 11 and a double bill featuring Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys on June 27. They’ll be joined by special guest Alejandro Escovedo in his Ravinia debut.
All photos courtesy Ravinia Festival.
- Orchestral, pop lead Ravinia’s 2013 season (dailyherald.com)