It’s easy to forget that many familiar melodies originally had lyrics, which why it took musicologists so long to discover that The Beatles filled their first five singles with the words from Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Sing along with the symphony with this GrouponLive deal: for $40, you get one ticket for main-floor seating at a Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra concert at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston (up to an $80 value, including all fees). Choose between the following performances:
- “Speck-tacular Beethoven!” with guest conductor Scott Speck on Sunday, April 22, at 7 p.m.,
- “The Romantic Violin” on Sunday, May 20, at 7 p.m.<p>
Beneath a honeycomb of sound-enhancing panels at Northwestern’s Pick-Staiger Hall, the Chicago Philharmonic’s tight-knit career musicians—many of them drawn from the Lyric Opera—profile beloved composers with help from nationally acclaimed guest performers. In April, Scott Speck leads a rousing rendition of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 and the Fidelio Overture with the artistry that garnered the respect of Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, the accessibility that underwrote his orchestral Dummies series books, and the ability to pull off a leotard that cinched his position as principal conductor of the Joffrey Ballet. Next, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Tuba Concerto gives CPO’s Rex Martin free rein to demonstrate the rotund instrument’s superball-like agility. The evening wraps up in the hands of guest violinist Robert Hanford, concertmaster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, leading Saint-Saëns’s Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso with a delicate balancing act of sweeping melodrama and exacting technical precision.
CPO’s music director, Larry Rachleff, emphasizes homegrown talent in May’s performance. Dvořák’s wistful Symphony no. 8 sets a lighthearted birdcall flute theme rolling across a landscape of complex, layered phrases. In Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, the symphony builds a pulsing, rhythmic foundation as CPO concertmaster David Perry’s agonizingly sweet strings climb acrobatically to ever-higher registers until all canines in the house are reduced to tears.
When the Chicago Philharmonic was founded in 1988, it was a tightly knit ensemble consisting 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 country's finest symphonic orchestras.”
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