James Levine to return to Ravinia for 2016 CSO gala concert

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The Ravinia Festival today announced thatMaestroJames Levine will be returning to the music festival in 2016 in celebration of the 45th anniversary of his Ravinia debut.

The July 24, 2016 concert, in which Levine will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Mahler’s Second Symphony, will celebrate the first piece he conducted at Ravinia, on June 24, 1971.

“We chose today, June 24, as the date to announce this most eagerly awaited homecoming because it was on this date in 1971 that a 28 year-old James Levine first stood in front of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” said Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman. “Maestro Levine is one of the busiest, most sought-after artists in the world, and his return to us is truly a special occasion, a true welcome-home celebration, especially for the Ravinia Family members who witnessed his rise.”

Levine, the longtimemusic director at the Metropolitan Opera, made his Ravinia debut in 1971 as a last-minute replacement for the ailing Istvan Kertesz, and two years later was named the festival’s music director. During his tenure, he presented an array of symphonic, chamber and operatic programs, performed as a concert pianist in recitals, and introduced many new artists to the Ravinia stage. Levine leftthe festivalin 1993 to create his first “Ring” cycle at Bayreuth and to further focus on his leadership of the Metropolitan Opera.

In a “60 Minutes” interview earlier this year, when asked about his lifelong devotion to music, Levine replied: “I knew it was one of my earliest awarenesses, that I loved music, and it was what I was happiest doing, always.”

Levine’s list of prestigious awards includes a 2003 Kennedy Center Honor and honorary doctorates from Northwestern University and The Juilliard School.

The 2016 concert will serve as Ravinia’s annual gala benefit concert fundraiser supporting the not-for-profit festival and its REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs. Tickets for the gala concert will go on sale next spring.

For more information on this year’s season, visit Ravinia.org

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