Chicago has yet to experience the worst that winter can dish out. But the newly announced schedule of the Grant Park Music Festival’s 2017 season should offer some comfort, enabling audiences to start dreaming about warm summer nights in Millennium Park, and the joys of 30 free concerts performed on the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion from June 14 – Aug. 19.
Among this summer’s highlights will be a world premiere commission by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Aaron Jay Kernis, whose new “Horn Concerto” has been written for Grant Park Orchestra principal horn, Jonathan Boen (co-commissioned by the Grant Park Music Festival and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic). In conjunction with the premiere, Kernis will hold a composer residency in Chicago, with artistic development activities for young artists, and educational programs for the general public. Performances are Aug. 11 and 12, with Carlos Kalmar, the Grant Park Music Festival’s artistic director and principal conductor, leading the orchestra.
Receiving it Festival premiere will be Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra’s monumental choral work, “Missa Latina” (June 28 and 30), a mix of traditional Latin and contemporary classical sounds with the jazz dance rhythms of the Caribbean. It will feature the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, with Miguel Harth-Bedoya as guest conductor, Christopher Bell as chorus director, and Jessica Rivera, soprano.
The Festival also will present the Midwest premieres of Kareem Roustom’s “Ramal”; Frank Martin’s 1944 oratorio “In terra pax,” David Schiff’s 2006 orchestral work “Infernal,” and the U.S. premiere of Matthew Hindson’s “Headbanger.”
Among the masterworks to be played during the summer will be Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto” (with guest artist Vadim Gluzman); Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “A Sea Symphony”; Aram Khachaturian’s “Piano Concerto”; the complete score for Stravinsky’s ballet, “The Firebird”; Brahms’ “Piano Concerto No. 1” (with pianist Stephen Hough); Strauss’ “Symphonia domestica,” led by guest conductor Simone Young in her Festival debut; Haydn’s Symphony No. 104; Tchaikovsky’s “Manfred”; Brahms’ “Schicksalslied”; and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9.” Works by George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saens, Benjamin Britten and Zoltan Kodaly also fill the programs.
In addition there will be evenings devoted to “Star Wars and More: The Music of John Williams,” with orchestral soundtracks from such films as “Superman,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and others. Canada’s 150th birthday will be celebrated by the acclaimed Canadian Brass. And other concerts will celebrate the sounds of Broadway (featuring Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana), Mariachi and the classical guitar. An Independence Day salute will be performed in Millennium Park on July 4 and again on July 5 at the South Shore Cultural Center.
The Festival also has renewed its commitment to music education and engagement, expanding its successful Project Inclusion professional development program to include vocalists along with orchestral fellows.
Kalmar (whose contract was recently extended through 2021), will lead the Festival orchestra, with a number of visiting conductors also on the podium. All concerts are free, and most will take place on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m.
Memberships to the 2017 Festival season will be available beginning Jan. 5 and include reserved access for every Festival concert, along with exclusive benefits like access to concert receptions and discounts on parking and restaurants. The Festival also offers packages with nine and 13 concerts that include reserved seats with complimentary exchange privileges, as well as Choose Your Own four, eight or 12 concert series packages. Memberships begin at $96.
In addition, every Grant Park Music Festival concert has seats that are free and open to the public. Seats in the Seating Bowl and on the Great Lawn are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority access to reserved seats in the Pavilion is available for groups of 10 or more. Exclusive seating on the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the Choral Balcony is available for groups of 50 or more. Group seating begins at $15 per person.
For a full schedule, and additional information about memberships and groups, visit gpmf.org or call 312.742.7647.