The Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has released details of its complete 2015 schedule.
As previously announced, James Conlon will step down after 11 seasons as Ravinia music director. “His presence will be felt at Ravinia for a long time, both in terms of his witty, fun-loving personality that was rooted in his devoted passion for classical music, and in the legacy of his powerful programs that included astounding opera performances, major presentations of Mahler, Mozart and the Russian masters,” said Welz Kaufman, Ravinia president and CEO, in a statement.
For Conlon’s final season, he and Kaufman have programmed trademark repertoire from his three decades at the festival, including complete cycles of Mahler’s symphonies and Mozart’s mature piano concertos, and his “Breaking the Silence” series, dedicated to reviving works suppressed by the Holocaust.
The CSO’s annual residency begins July 8. Conlon’s dates start July 22 with a salute to his Mahler and Mozart cycles; the program also replicates a 1977 concert from Conlon’s CSO debut season, with Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Ravinia favorite Garrick Ohlsson in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, K. 488.
Other CSO highlights:
Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, July 8: Conductor Bobby McFerrin leads the CSO and an all-star roster of vocalists (headed by Nicole Cabell and Brian Stokes Mitchell) in selections from the opera.
Symphonie fantastique, July 16: Violinist Nikolaj Znaider solos and conducts Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216, and leads the CSO in the Berlioz favorite.
All-Russian Night, July 23: Pianist Lise de la Salle appears in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1, along with three orchestral selections from Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, conducted by Conlon.
Zemlinsky and Brahms, July 29: Conlon and the CSO give an encore performance of Zemlinsky’s symphonic poem The Mermaid (Die Seejungfrau), originally programmed in 2007. Also, Jorge Federico Osorio is the soloist in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1.
Tchaikovsky Spectacular, Aug. 1: The festival’s annual gala benefit features Maxim Vengerov in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on a program also consisting of selections from Swan Lake and the “1812” Overture with Ravinia’s signature cannon fire. In 2013, Conlon conducted Vengerov in his only American appearance that year — following a 15-year absence at the festival.
The Flying Dutchman, Aug. 15: Conlon leads a concert performance of Wagner’s opera, which has never been performed in its entirety at Ravinia. Greer Grimsley sings the title role, Amber Wagner is Senta and Kristinn Sigmundsson as Daland, with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, prepared by Duain Wolfe. Conlon is hailed for his Wagnerian interpretations, especially at the Los Angeles Opera, where he conducted the company’s first complete Ring cycle.
Among Ravinia’s 2015 pop-music bookings are:
Alan Cumming, June 19, the Broadway star in an intimate evening of song in the Martin Theatre.
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, June 26-27, in their “Cheek to Cheek” tour.
Aretha Franklin, July 11, the “Queen of Soul” in her “Great Divas Classics” show.
Harry Connick Jr., Aug. 7, the jazz-pop crooner returns the festival for the first time in 25 years.
Diana Krall, Aug. 9, the jazz vocalist-pianist on her “Wallflower” world tour.
Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, Aug. 12: The Cuban collective featuring Omara Portuondo, Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal, Eliades Ochoa and Barbarito Torres appears on its “Adios Tour.”
Seth MacFarlane, Aug. 21, the “Family Guy” creator turns crooner, backed by the Ravinia Festival Orchestra.
Alan Jackson, Aug. 31: The country music superstar makes his Ravinia debut.
For a full schedule and ticket information, go to ravinia.org.