In one sense, Bella Voce?s focus is singular: the human voice, in all its grandeur and intimacy. But beyond their choice of medium, the group?s repertoire knows know bounds. Since 1982, they?ve raised up their voices to deliver classic a cappella pieces, early music, and contemporary works with accompaniment from across the globe. They?ve also commissioned new works from Midwestern composers such as Rami Levin, Frank Ferko, and old farmer Dan from down the road, who sure can whistle. The most recent addition to Bella Voce is the Bella Voce Camerata. In placing just a single singer on each part, the Camerata specializes in pieces whose smaller scope and scale serves as an intimate alternative to the lusher arrangements Bella Voce is known for.
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.?
Founded in 2011, the Chicago-based American Chamber Opera features an ensemble committed to singing full-length oratorios in English. Its productions resemble concerts more than traditional opera performances: the music takes center stage as the singers belt and emote in settings that evoke the world of the story with just a few well-placed details.
The 14 virtuosos of the Renovo String Orchestra augment a repertoire of classic compositions with works by emerging artists and deep-rooted community involvement. Guest violinist Dmitri Pogorelov joins violist Ben Weber among the group's regular crescendo creators during "Romantic Abandon." Serbian composer Aleksandar Simic's "In Memoriam" clears tear ducts of soap-opera residue before the livelier tumult of one of Mendelssohn's youthful compositions quickens heartbeats. Finally, Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings draws deeply on the orchestra's well of talent and adds historical weight to the all-engulfing sound with melodies lifted from classic Russian folk songs and cartoons. Nichols Concert Hall contrasts the plush hum with a more austere beauty, its dark wood pews descending to a stage flanked by ionic columns and limned by late-winter twilight from high windows.
A two-time winner of the Illinois Council of Orchestras'' Orchestra of the Year award, Ars Viva thrills ears with musical programs expertly curated by veteran Maestro Alan Heatherington. "A Sunday Serenade" kicks off with Antonín Dvořák's Serenade for Winds, centered around delicate woodwind melodies and boasting a sweeping finish more powerful than a locomotive with a smokestack full of protein shake. Mozart's Serenade no. 12 weaves darker tunes together with contrapuntal harmonies, and Johannes Brahms's Serenade no. 2 showcases the monumental composer's lighter side with charming, high-energy euphonies. Before each piece, Heatherington dons a square academic cap and shares his symphonic sagacity with audiences, providing background on the tunes and their creators.
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.