Blockbuster Beethoven's Ninth! celebrates the symphonic sagacity of Ludwig van Beethoven with performances of two of the composer's seminal works: Romance for Violin and Orchestra no. 1 in G Major, opus 40, and Symphony no. 9. The latter composition, Beethoven's final complete symphony, is one of the most powerful works in the classical-music canon, with its "Ode to Joy" choral finale standing as one of the most recognizable passages in all music. The Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Larry Rachleff, will be accompanied by vocalists from the North Shore Choral Society and the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. Get your Groupon for an evening of classical music that's pleasing to the eye of your ear.
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.
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.