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Grant Park Music Festival to enter Gandolfi’s ‘Garden’

Composer Michael Gandolfi. (Photo: Courtesy of Grant Park Music Festival.

Championing the new is crucial for the Grant Park Music Festival. So on Aug. 5 (at 6:30 p.m.) and Aug. 6 (at 7:30 p.m.) , along with Mozart’s “Great Mass in C Minor,” principal conductor Carlos Kalmar will lead the world premiere of Michael Gandolfi’s latest installment in an ever-expanding work inspired by the Garden of Cosmic Speculation — a 30 acre sculpture garden in Scotland created by landscape architect and theorist Charles Jencks (who happens to be good friends with Frank Gehry, the architect of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, where it will be performed).


When: Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m. and

Aug. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Jay Pritzker

Pavilion in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph

Tickets: Free (with memberships for assured seating available


Inspired by the science and mathematics of modern cosmology, the garden’s sculptures and landscaping reflects such themes as Black Holes and Fractals, combining natural features with artificial symmetry and curves.

“I first discovered the garden in 2003 when I saw a beautiful coffee table book about it,” said Gandolfi, who chairs the composition department at the New England Conservatory of Music. “I wrote four movements for a joint commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Festival, and then, in 2007, I expanded it for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which subsequently recorded it. In the interim I got to know Charles Jencks and visited his garden, and I’ve added more sections to the piece for Grant Park.”

“One section of the work is inspired by the Octagonia, a library of stone with an ancient look that has eight major topics (from arts and architecture, to economics and politics, language and mind, and philosophy and power), and I used uncommon eight-note scales to create a sort of tone poem suggesting the mystery of it all. Another movement was inspired by the Comet Bridge — a steely, very modern footbridge new to the garden.”

Gandolfi’s work will be followed by the Mozart “Mass,” which will be performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus (led by chorus director Christopher Bell), and featuring soloists Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi (soprano), Janai Brugger (sopano), Hoss Brock (tenor) and Daniel Eifert (bass).

Carlos Kalmar conducts the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra. (Photo: Patrick Pyszka)
Carlos Kalmar conducting the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra. (Photo: Patrick Pyszka)