Hailed by the Chicago Tribune for their “pure tone, clear vowels, and firm blend,” the singers of the Bella Voce chamber choir wrap silken vocal cords around composer George Frideric Handel’s masterful oratorio during a performance of Baroque classicism. The choral ensemble takes on this cornerstone of the Western musical canon with historically accurate gusto, enlisting the string-and-brass accompaniment of period-instrument ensemble The Callipygian Players to recreate Handel’s work as the composer himself may have experienced it. Artistic director Andrew Lewis swings his conductor’s wand with aplomb, casting necromantic spells that raise his predecessor’s spirit from the dead to terrify the chorus into hitting higher notes.
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.
In a two-performance exhibition of sweeping set pieces geared toward enchanting children and adults alike, Salt Creek Ballet presents selections from The Sleeping Beauty with special visits from characters such as Little Red Riding Hood and Puss 'n Boots. The folkloric superstars are attending the wedding of Princess Aurora, who has just emerged from her bed after years of attempting to follow up Pet Sounds. For these evenings of fantasy, the company does a pas de deux with guest artists Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov, principals of the Colorado Ballet. An all-ages academy of kinetics since 1985, Salt Creek Ballet's alums have gone on to grace the stages of the Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, and Cirque du Soleil.
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.
In support of her high-decibel new album, Rihanna kicks off her hotly anticipated LOUD tour with emphatic gusto and a sizzling roster of special guests. Like an art show at a sundae bar, the LOUD tour floods the senses, enchanting audiences with lavishly designed sets, myriad costume changes, move-busting dancers, and Rihanna's songbook of Grammy magnets. Crooner Cee Lo Green augments the songful offerings with his own vocal talents, and Roc Nation rapper and rhythm scientist J. Cole further helps resuscitate ear drums traumatized by the outside world's blaring car horns and shrill howler monkeys.
Chicago Sinfonietta was already markedly different from its counterparts when it played its first notes in 1987. Its founder and conductor Paul Freeman wanted to create a symphony that actually reflected the community in which it existed. The ensemble he formed brought together musicians from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, who interpreted both classical pieces and forgotten compositions from composers of color. His concept proved successful—the symphony toured Europe, played the Kennedy Center twice, and produced 14 albums, all while tunefully demonstrating the universality of music.
Today, Chicago Sinfonietta continues to perform unique programs, and supports music education and professional development opportunities for members of underrepresented communities. Freeman retired from his post at the end of the 2011 season, passing the reins new music director Mei-Ann Chen, but his legacy lives on in the music of performers he helped get started, including classical-music legend Yo-Yo Ma.