The 2017 Ravinia Festival will be one of its most star-packed and most diverse with a lineup that boasts the superstar power of Common, John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Santana, John Mellancamp, Stevie Nicks and OneRepublic, among the 140 acts scheduled for the summer music extravaganza.
Running June 3 through Sept. 17 in Highland Park, the festival this year boasts 58 artist debuts from nearly every genre of music.
Oscar-winner Legend officially kicks off the festival’s pavilion series with a concert on June 10; singer-songwriter Gallant shares the bill. Chicago rapper and Oscar-winner Common headlines the pavilion June 24. Franklin, who recently announced her retirement from touring, will make a special festival stop on June 17. Motown legend Smokey Robinson headlines the pavilion on Sept. 15. Gladys Knight will share the bill with festival newcomer/veteran pop singer Michael Bolton on Sept. 1. The Temptations, along with the Beach Boys, will perform July 2. Chicago cabaret legend Spider Saloff presents a tribute to the songs of Peggy Lee on Aug 25 in Bennett Gordon Hall.
“Our audiences have come to expect everything from our programming, and we truly hope our lineup continues to reflect our ongoing commitment to bring as wide a variety of music as we can to our audiences,” said Ravinia’s president and CEO Welz Kauffman.
Fans of this year’s Oscar-winning film “La La Land” can experience a lawn/pavilion screening of the film with its score performed in concert by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Stelluto on June 18.
On the classical music side, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra marks its 82nd annual summer residency at the festival with 18 concerts on the schedule, punctuated by the return to the podium of Christoph Eschenbach (July 28, in a program with violinist Ray Chen and soprano Marisol Montalvo; and July 29, in a program with pianist Lang Lang); James Levine (conducting Haydn’s “The Creation” Aug. 8); and Susanna Malkki (in a program of Sibelius and Beethoven with violinist Vadim Repin July 20, and pianist Kirill Gerstein July 21). Conductor Lionel Bringuier makes his CSO debut (in a program with pianist Yuja Wang) July 11.
Kent Nagano makes his Ravinia debut on July 25, conducting the CSO as part of Ravinia’s multi-concert celebration of Pulitzer-Prize winning composer John Adams’s 70th birthday.
The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra makes its Ravinia debut with Apollo’s Fire and Jeannette Sorrell conducting Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons: Rediscovered” July 27. Venezuelan conductor/violinist Gustavo Dudamel will lead the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in a program of Prokofiev, Castellanos, Orbon and Bernstein, among others, Sept. 14.
Also making his Ravinia debut is Tony Award-winning “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., performing in the Martin Theatre Aug. 13. “We really wanted him on the pavilion but he wanted the Martin because he’s been doing these incredible cabaret shows and he wanted that intimacy of the Martin, to be able to connect with his audience in that setting,” Kauffman said of Odom, who won the Tony for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical.
Talking about the pop/rock music lineup, Kauffman said this year’s roster of artists features many who’ve been long-sought for the Highland Park venue.
“John Mellencamp [headlining the pavilion Aug. 26-27] and Stevie Nicks [headlining the pavilion Sept. 9-10] have been on our festival’s bucket list for a very long time,” he said. “It’s just a matter of being able to get artists who are so very busy every year [with summer tours] … I’ve wanted to get Lila Downs [July 1] on our schedule for 10 years. She performs mostly downtown [Chicago] so I’m thrilled we could finally make it work here. … It takes time for artists to understand their audiences will come [to Highland Park]. … Our accessibility by car and by train — how many festivals have a train that drops patrons off at the front gate — is one of our key assets.”
Along with the aforementioned OneRepublic (July 14, with Fitz & the Tantrums and James Arthur), some other artists making their Ravinia debuts include Pentatonix (Aug. 28), Alanis Morissette (Aug. 25), Sammy Hagar & The Circle (June 19) and Andrew Bird (July 23).
Among returning fan favorites are Santana (Aug. 11), Tony Bennett (Aug. 4), Diana Krall (June 28), Sheryl Crow (July 7), The Gipsy Kings (June 23), and The Moody Blues (June 30) celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Days of Future Passed.”
Also returning this year is the daylong, parkwide Fiesta Ravinia on Sept. 17, celebrating Mexican culture, music, art and family activities. Los Tigres del Norte and Natalia Jimenez will headline the pavilion.
Tickets for all concerts will go on sale March 22 exclusively to Ravinia donors. The general public on-sale begins May 9 at ravinia.org.
The complete concert schedule/lineup can be found at ravinia.org.