UPDATED MARCH 9: Hollywood Vampires have cancelled their July 17 Ravinia concert.

Bob Dylan.

Diana Ross.

Paul Simon.

Hollywood Vampires.

You can catch all of them and more this summer at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, it was announced today. The annual summer music extravaganza, this year running June 2 through Sept. 11, will feature more than 140 concerts and special events, including a celebration of the 80th annual summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Leading the pop music pack is the June 24 double bill featuring Bob Dylan (his first Ravinia appearance since 1964) and Chicago’s queen of R&B/gospel, Mavis Staples.

“I’ve been working on getting Bob Dylan back to Ravinia for years,” said Ravinia president and  CEO Welz Kauffman, in an interview this week. “When I arrived at Ravinia [in 2001] I had a bucket list of performers I wanted to bring to our stages and he was on it. As were Paul Simon and Diana Ross and Duran Duran. … Not really knowing the history of the past 25 years or so of Ravinia programming when I arrived, I suppose I would say it had been a little monochromatic. I knew I wanted to make my mark on the programming. … I had a list — names like Dylan and Paul Simon, and Don Henley, Sting, Wyclef Jean and so many others. One by one I started crossing them off. This year, a few more definitely came off that list.”

Patti LaBelle returns to Ravinia June 23. | Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Patti LaBelle returns to Ravinia June 23. | Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Getting Dylan was no small feat, Kauffman confirmed. “I won’t say how long the process took to get him back here, but really, with Bob Dylan it wasn’t about remuneration necessarily as much as it was about the artist wanting to say something new in a new way, in a new setting. I think that’s true with all the artists we present.”

This season marks the return of former Ravinia music director James Levine, back after a 20-year absence, to conduct Mahler’s Second Symphony (July 23), just as he did when he debuted it at Ravinia 45 years ago. Eight conductors will make their Ravinia debuts this summer, and four of those will mark their CSO debuts, including Kirill Karabits, Gustavo Gimeno, George Hanson and Ben Gernon.

“I know with James Levine, I wanted to bring back someone very special to celebrate the 80th summer residency of the CSO, someone who had great impact on Ravinia. Every year since I’ve been here I’ve tried to get him back to the podium, but his schedule was always jammed. But this time, it was all about Mahler’s Second Symphony. He could not say no. It’s going to be a momentous moment in history.”

The list of “momentous moments” will continue all summer. Pop icon Paul Simon makes his Ravinia debut on June 18; the Commodores perform June 23, sharing the bill with Patti LaBelle. Pop icon Diana Ross makes her Ravinia debut July 27.

Alice Cooper (from left), Johnny Depp and Joe Perry of Hollywood Vampires perform onstage during Grammy Awards last month. | Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

Alice Cooper (from left), Johnny Depp and Joe Perry of Hollywood Vampires perform onstage during Grammy Awards last month. | Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

Hollywood Vampires, the new band featuring Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, will bow at the pavilion July 17.

“This was all about me wanting to get Alice Cooper here for as long as I can remember,” Kauffmann said with a chuckle. “I’m such a huge, huge fan of his, and of his musical legacy to all the artists who came after him whom he clearly inspired. To have Johnny Depp and Joe Perry along for the ride is more than I could have imagined.”

Diana Ross speaks onstage at the 2014 American Music Awards on November 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. |Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Diana Ross speaks onstage at the 2014 American Music Awards on November 23, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. |Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Other pop music highlights include: Bryan Ferry on Aug. 6; Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons on June 12; Train and Andy Grammer on Aug. 2; Seal on Aug. 28;  Jeff Beck on a double bill with the Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy (July 31); and Seth MacFarlane, who returns June 22, following his Ravinia debut last summer. Country legend Marty Stuart shares the bill with Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (Sept. 2).

Ravinia pays tribute to the late David Bowie with a Sept. 9 concert featuring “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (accompanied by video screen on the lawn) performed by the cover band Classic Albums Live. Other special tributes include homages to Nat King Cole on June 19 by Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli, as part of a Father’s Day celebration program, which also includes renowned pianist Monty Alexander (in his Ravinia debut) with a tribute to Tony Bennett (who returns to Ravinia on Aug. 13). Also on the bill will be the Grammy-nominated 12-year-old jazz pianist prodigy Joey Alexander.

The “Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration” bows on June 26 with Warren Haynes and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra. Tributes to Cole Porter (Aug. 17) and Stephen Sondheim (Aug. 18) will also be featured.

On the classical music end of the spectrum, highlights include: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (Aug. 16); Haydn’s Complete Op. 76 String Quartets (July 5) featuring the Emerson String Quartet; Beethoven’s Complete Piano Sonatas by pianist Jonathan Biss (Aug. 18-22), the official launch of Ravinia’s three-year exploration of the composer’s piano sonatas; Beethoven’s Complete Cello/Piano Sonatas (Aug. 16) featuring celebrated Spanish cellist Adolfo Gutiérrez Arenas and pianist Christopher Park; and Bach’s Complete Sonatas and Partitas (Aug. 17) featuring violinist Miriam Fried.

The CSO will be joined by violinist Itzhak Perlman for a special 50th anniversary of Perlman’s Ravinia/CSO debuts in an all-Beethoven program (Aug. 20). Bramwell Tovey conducts. Perlman and the orchestra return on Aug. 21 for a 50th anniversary celebration of cellist Lynn Harrell’s Ravinia/CSO debuts in an all-Tchaikovsky program. Perlman conducts.

Paul Simon (pictured at Carnegie Hall in 2014) makes his Ravinia festival debut this summer. |Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Paul Simon (pictured at Carnegie Hall in 2014) makes his Ravinia festival debut this summer. |Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Special events include the July 12 Ravinia bow of jazz trumpeter/orchestrator Wynton Marsalis’ first violin concerto, co-commissioned by Ravinia Festival for violinist Nicola Benedetti, who returns for her third engagement at the venue. On July 13, the festival will present “The Planets: An HD Odyssey,” a program of “space-themed music featuring the Midwest premiere of a new film (projected via video screens on the pavilion and the lawn) about NASA’s most recent missions,” set to Holst’s “The Planets” and conducted by Cristian Macelaru. Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” will be performed July 26 in the Chicago premiere of a Ravinia co-commission production created by Janni Younge of Handspring Puppet Company (most famous for the Broadway spectacular “War Horse”).

Soprano Danielle De Niese performs onstage in Hyde Park on September 12, 2015 in London, England. She makes her Ravinia debut Aug. 4. | Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Soprano Danielle De Niese performs September 12, 2015, in London. She makes her Ravinia debut Aug. 4. | Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Classical artists making their Ravinia debut this season will include the Avalon String Quartet (Aug. 31); the Chiara String Quartet (Sept. 7-8); the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (Sept. 11); soprano Danielle de Niese (Aug. 4), and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill (July 23).

On March 28, the venue will unveil a new aquatic sculpture, titled “Chorus,” designed by WET (the team behind the dancing fountains at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas), which will be situated at the main entrance just outside the Metra underpass. The sculpture/fountain accents a season of water-themed concerts and presentations including Tan Dun’s “Water Passion” (June 10), “crafted for the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, and employing bowls filled with water to great musical and theatrical effect”; pianist Shani Diluka (June 10) in a recital of water-inspired works by Chopin (“Raindrop” Prelude and Barcarolle), Debussy (Jardins sous la pluie), Liszt (Les jeux d’eaux a la Villa d’Este), and Schubert (Auf dem Wasser zu singen); and Haydn’s Water Music Suite (June 16) performed by the Chicago Sinfonietta, conducted by Mei-Ann Chen.

For the complete schedule, visit www.ravinia.org . Tickets for Ravinia donors only will go on sale beginning March 9 at Ravinia.org. General public on-sale begins April 26 at the website. For the complete schedule visit ravinia.org


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Posted at 3:48 p.m. March 2, 2016.