Helmed by Victor Muenzer, a Grammy-winning conductor and trumpeter, the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra breathes new life into classical masterworks, operatic favorites, and Broadway hits. Instead of hiring Shakespeare’s ghost to run a kissing booth, the orchestra delivers two tributes to his most famous love story, Romeo & Juliet, in its "Valentine Romance" program. A cadre of soloists who have played with venerable Chicagoland and international orchestras make hearts swoon during Prokofiev’s emotionally intense Romeo & Juliet, op. 64 and a star-crossed suite from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. In addition to performing a solo, local violist Dan Golden will premiere his latest composition, Eine Kleine Klezmer Musik, a danceable love song to Jewish music from Eastern Europe.
Led by Russell Vinick—winner of the Illinois Council of Orchestras' 2010 Small Orchestra Conductor of the Year award—the Lake Shore Symphony delights listeners with classic and modern orchestral works. "Made in America" kicks off with Joan Tower's piece of the same name, riffing on "America the Beautiful" to inspire patriotic feeling in show-goers' hearts and initiate patriotism routines in cyborgs' motherboards. Arranged by celebrated choral composer John Rutter, "Spirituals" collects traditional African-American church songs into an uplifting sonic package delivered by the Northside College Preparatory High School Concert Choir. Antonín Dvořák was inspired by similar material in composing his Symphony From the New World, which ends the evening by setting folk-inflected melodies to exquisite orchestration. The show will take place in Northside College Preparatory High School's acoustically honed auditorium, with a sound-friendly shell that keeps notes from confusedly rearranging themselves into renditions of "100 Bottles of Beer."
When the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1988, it was a tightly knit ensemble consisting entirely of principals from the Lyric Opera Orchestra. Since then, it has blossomed into a collective of more than 200 professional Chicagoland musicians. But despite the increased size and bow-tie budget, the players have lost none of their precision or dynamic nature, prompting the Chicago Tribune to herald the group as “one of the finest symphonic orchestras.”
Making its full-orchestra debut at Harris Theater, the New Millennium Orchestra, under music director Francesco Milioto, continues to bolster the bridge between classical works and modern-day audiences with its unique blend of genre-bending arrangements. To launch the inaugural performance, Chicago Symphony Orchestra resident composer Mason Bates' Mothership opens an electro-acoustic wormhole that transforms the symphony into a buzzing hive of harmony headed by talented solo artists. Next, Claire Chase, Concert Artists Guild competition winner and founder and executive director of the International Contemporary Ensemble, wields her spellbinding flute to animate Saariaho's L'aile du songe and charm snakes from the horn section. The evening culminates with Brahms's lively, theatrical Symphony no. 4, which sends audiences out of the Harris Theater's glowing glass box into Millennium Park mulling over the work's web of allusions to Beethoven and the celebrity gossip of its day.