Led by artistic director Joan Parsley, Ensemble Musical Offering floods ear canals with faithful period renditions of music from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical eras. A Chain of Love commemorates Valentine's Day with a program of romantic pieces by such composers as Bach and Biber, played on meticulously restored period instruments including the lute, viola d'amore, and hand-cranked Gregorian monk. Soprano Sarah Richardson lends her honeyed vocals to love songs from Purcell and Stoetzel while English translations of German and Italian poetry from the period fill heads with vintage lovey-dovey thoughts. The Cathedral Church of All Saints houses the beautiful melodies in Gothic revival elegance, with a recently restored hardwood floor that dampens distracting reverb and gives reformed termites a chance to prove themselves.
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.
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.”
Under the direction of two-time Illinois Conductor of the Year award winner Steven Larsen, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra enriches eardrums with performances in its annual classics and pops series, committed to the high musical standards that won it the 2007 Illinois Orchestra of the Year award. The season kicks off on September 17 with pianist David Syme's signature performance of George Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F. On March 10, the works of Igor Stravinsky and Franz Schubert impel concertgoers to thoughtfully ponder these artists' achievements and/or stage-dive. The pops series delights listeners, as Steve Lippia performs Frank Sinatra favorites on March 31, and the Mendelssohn Chorale helps to belt out holiday pop standards on December 17 and 18. A slew of accomplished musicians appear throughout the season, including Rockford Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Michele Lekas. These concerts give visitors a chance to behold the signature starry ceilings at the Coronado Theatre, built in 1927 and winner of an AOL poll for Favorite U.S. Architectural Wonder.