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Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti to join CSO at Ravinia in 2016

Ravinia Festival today announced nearly all of the guest artists on repertoire for the 2016 summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

For its 80th summer residency, the CSO welcomes the return of maestro James Levine, the former music director of the festival. In addition, six conductors will be making their Ravinia debuts (four of whom will be making their CSO debuts as well).

Here are some highlights of the 2016 summer residency. For the complete schedule visit ravinia.org.

July 12: Opening night of the summer residency will feature the U.S. premiere of the first violin concerto by legendary jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, co-commissioned by Ravinia Festival (along with the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra) for violinist Nicola Benedetti. (The work will have its world premiere in London in November.)

July 16: Lyric Opera music director Sir Andrew Davis returns to lead Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, along with Vaughan Williams’s “Fantasia on a Theme” by Thomas Tallis, and Elgar’s Cello Concerto with soloist Alisa Weilerstein.

July 23: James Levine, who served as Ravinia’s music director from 1971-1993, celebrates the 45th anniversary of his festival debut conducting the CSO and Chorus in Mahler’s Second Symphony.

July 26: The Chicago premiere of Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” will be presented in a production created by Janni Younge of Handspring Puppet Company (“War Horse”). Ben Gernon makes his CSO and Ravinia debuts conducting the program, which also includes Debussy’s “La mer” and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from “Peter Grimes.”

July 29-30: The CSO, conducted by Ludwig Wicki, will perform the score to James Cameron’s “Titanic.” Projected on the venue’s large screens, the film presentation will also feature a chorus and a soprano providing vocalizations throughout the Oscar-winning film.

Aug. 3: Pianist Jeffrey Kahane will play and conduct Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” from the keyboard, in a program that also features Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” dances and Rachmaninoff ’s Symphonic Dances.

Aug. 5: Kirill Karabits, principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, makes his CSO and Ravinia debuts, conducting Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with Ravinia-debut soloist Paul Lewis, and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony.

Chris Botti makes his CSO debut at Ravinia in 2016.  | FILE PHOTO

Chris Botti makes his CSO debut at Ravinia in 2016. | FILE PHOTO

Aug. 12: Smooth jazz trumpeter Chris Botti makes his CSO debut joined by violinist Joshua Bell in an evening of jazz and pops, conducted by George Hanson, in his joint CSO and Ravinia debut.

Aug. 20: Itzhak Perlman performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the CSO, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, who will also lead Beethoven’s popular Seventh Symphony.

Aug. 21: Perlman returns to close out the CSO residency with the annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular. In addition to the pyrotechnics/live cannons accompanying the “1812” Overture, cellist Lynn Harrell will be featured in Variations on a Rococo Theme. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony rounds out the program.

In addition, Ravinia will explore Beethoven’s chamber works via its $10 “Bennett Gordon Hall Classics” series. The festival launches a three-year exploration of Beethoven’s piano sonatas with pianist Jonathan Biss, beginning Aug. 18.

On Aug. 16, Spain’s celebrated cellist Adolfo Gutierrez Arenas makes his first appearance at Ravinia with Bernstein Award-winning pianist Christopher Park to present Beethoven’s complete sonatas for cello and piano.

The Pacifica Quartet will present Beethoven’s complete string quartets in five concerts over three days, Aug. 26-28.

Additional programming and performers will be announced in the coming months. For the complete residency schedule to date, including programs, conductors and soloists, visit ravinia.org.