Returns by favorites James Levine, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell and Christopher Eschenbach are among the highlights of the Ravinia Festival’s 2017 dates with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Haydn’s The Creation (led by Levine), tributes to John Adams, Ira Gershwin and Henry Mancini, and the complete “Lord of the Rings” cycle are some of the programming attractions.
In addition, several conductors will be making their Ravinia debuts, including Kent Nagano, Andrey Boreyko, Lionel Bringuier, Edward Gardner and Dima Slobodeniouk.
Ravinia released its CSO programming on Nov. 6, with full details revealed on March 15. Along with the CSO lineup, Ravinia has announced its schedule of pop, rock, jazz and children’s programming for 2017. Among those highlights are R&B superstar John Legend on June 10; “La La Land in Concert,” with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performing the film’s complete Oscar-winning score, conducted by George Stelluto, on June 18; jazz vocalist-pianist Diana Krall on June 28, and the pop group One Republic on July 14-15.
Details of the CSO residency follow:
July 11: French conductor Lionel Bringuier, in his CSO debut, leads the orchestra in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, with Yuja Wang in her Ravinia bow, followed by Mussorgsky’s (orch. Ravel) Pictures at an Exhibition.
July 12: Violinist Joshua Bell joins Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko, in his CSO debut, for Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy; the program closes with Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet (compiled by the conductor).
July 16: Ravinia’s annual all-Tchaikovsky bill this season features Russian conductor Dima Slobodeniouk (CSO debut) in Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1, with Simon Trpčeski as soloist, Francesca da Rimini and the 1812 Overture, with traditional cannon fire.
July 18: In his CSO debut, British conductor Edward Gardner leads Elgar’s Enigma Variations, followed by Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, with Yefim Bronfman as soloist.
July 20-21: Conductor Susanna Mälkki begins a two-night stand with Vadim Repin in Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica). On July 21, the program features Kirill Gerstein in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, then Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.
July 25: American composer John Adams receives a 70th birthday salute, with conductor Kent Nagano (in his Ravinia debut) leading the orchestra in Harmonielehre and Nikolai Lugansky in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor). In Bennett Gordon Hall, Shaker Loops for string septet, Roll Over Beethoven and Hallelujah Junction for two pianos, and Road Movies for violin and piano; in the Martin Theatre, Common Tones in Simple Time and the Chamber Symphony.
July 28: Former Ravinia music director Christoph Eschenbach returns to lead violinist Ray Chen and soprano Marisol Montalvo, both making CSO debuts, in Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Mozart’s “L’amerò, sarò costante” for soprano and violin from Il rè pastore, and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and his Symphony No. 5 (Reformation).
July 29: Ravinia’s annual gala, with Eschenbach on the podium and superstar Lang Lang at the piano, begins with Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, followed by Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8.
Aug. 1: Conductor Gianandrea Noseda leads pianist Denis Matsuev in Smetana’s The Moldau, Richard Strauss’ Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini and Ravel’s La valse.
Aug. 3: Pinchas Zukerman, conductor and soloist, offers Elgar’s Deux Chansons for violin and orchestra (in its CSO premiere), Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.
Aug. 6: “A Tribute to Henry Mancini,” with selections from the scores of ” The Pink Panther,” “Hatari!,” “Victor/Victoria,” “The Days of Wine and Roses” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” is conducted by Steven Reineke, with soloists Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway on flutes, and vocalists Ashley Brown and Tony DeSare, the latter in his CSO debut.
Aug. 8: For the second consecutive summer, James Levine returns to Ravinia, where he was music director from 1973 to 1993. He leads the CSO, the CSO Chorus, tenor Matthew Polenzani, bass John Relyea and soprano Nadine Sierra (CSO debut) in Haydn’s ororatio The Creation.
Aug. 10: Krzysztof Urbański, music director of the Indianapolis Symphony, conducts the CSO in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3, with Garrick Ohlsson as soloist, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10.
Aug. 13: “I Love to Rhyme: A Tribute to Ira Gershwin,” hosted by pianist Kevin Cole, has Emil de Cou on the podium and on the stage, soprano Sylvia McNair (with other vocalists to be announced later).
Aug. 18-20: “The Lord of the Rings” cycle rolls out over three nights, with conductor Ludwig Wicki leading the CSO, Chicago Children’s Choir, Chicago Chorale and the Lakeside Singers in Howard Shore’s music as the three complete films are projected on pavilion and lawn screens: Aug. 18, “The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001, Oscar winner for best score); Aug. 19, “The Two Towers” (2002), and Aug. 19, “The Return of the King” (2003, winner of 11 Oscars, including best picture, director, score and song [“Into the West”]).
TOP: James Levine leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia’s 2016 gala. | Photo: Patrick Gipson/Ravinia