Salonen and Kuusisto

Continuing on the topic of cultural activities. Last week, when Boris was in Chicago, we went to two CSO concerts, both with Esa Pekka Salonen conducting. I like him a lot and didn’t mind at all that after a couple of ticket exchanges I ended up having two pairs of tickets to two concerts just a day apart.

It was a very exhausting week in terms of work, and I was not sure whether it would be a good idea to make myself sleep-deprived for two days, but both concerts were exceptionally good!. One piece which stood out was Dessner’s violin concerto performed by Pekka Kuususto. On my way home from the concert, I found a recording of this very piece performed by Kuusisto with a different orchestra.’

If you watch it, I guarantee you would feel what I felt!

Tonight

There was a program change for today’s CSO concert because maestro Muti tested positive and had to quarantine for a week. I didn’t want to return my ticket, but at the same time, I still had a lot to do to get ready for tomorrow’s PUG and needed to have normal sleep. And at the same time, I loved the updated program – several of Mozart’s piano concertos. I was going back and forth, and I decided to go to the first half of the concert at the very last moment.
I had a lot of positive emotions. I love it when a conductor is contacting from the piano, as Mozart himself did, and I love this full of light music, so bright and beautiful, a real celebration of life.
Also, I loved it when I saw that the Ukrainian flag was now permanently displayed on the right side of the stage, and the musicians continued displaying the ribbons in Ukrainian colors.

And I loved that the weather was finally warm, and I felt like Chicago is back.

I decided to take a Brown Line for the half of the way home to look at Chicago from the elevated level. I passed a young man on the planform talking to another waiting passenger: every morning I look outside and see the lake, and I can’t believe I live here! OMG! How much I can relate!!!

CSO Concert

Yesterday, I was at the CSO concert. Nobody wanted to go with me, so I returned one of the two tickets and went by myself. I almost forgot that I almost always went to concerts solo before the pandemic. 

I had a physical therapy appointment at 4 PM, and it didn’t make sense to go back home and go to the concert an hour later. At least, I thought it didn’t make sense. I went straight to the Loop and found an open Starbucks on Michigan Avenue, and then I sat there with my coffee and my wrap and my laptop, facing the street and watching the people.

I realized that 1) I didn’t do anything like that for a long time 2) I missed the feeling of being all by myself in the city. 

When I worked in the office and would go to a concert after work, I always had that time between work and the concert, and I would sit at Starbucks or some other cafe, sipping coffee and people-watching. There are not that many places these days where you can sit like this after 5 PM, and it was great to feel that something is returning. 

The concert had Boris’ favorites. I still remember how he gave me the recordings of Mahler and Bruckner to listen. 

The mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca was amazing! The most unusual voice I had ever heard—perfection from the first to the last note.

And one more thing – the whole orchestra wore little yellow and blue ribbons on their chests 🙂

The Music And The War

On Sunday, I was at the CSO concert. Ricardo Muti was conducting the Beethoven 9th symphony. It was an outstanding performance. Also, it turned out that it was the last concert for Duain Wolfe, the Chorus Director, who is retiring after 28 years with CSO. After the concern, there was a very emotional ceremony presenting him the highest CSO award.

Knowing maestro Muti, I expected him to say something about the situation in the outer world, but this didn’t happen, and I thought that he just didn’t want to interfere with the celebration of Duain Wolfe. But it turned out that I was wrong – he talked before the Thursday concert!

Official pictures:

The Weather And The Music

We have had a severe weather warning for today since two days ago. It was supposed to be 7 inches of snow and strong wind, and it was all supposed to last from Wednesday evening till Thursday evening.

The winds part was there. As for the snow, it was all rain yesterday, and today the snow only started after 2 PM (and it was over before 9 PM). 

When I heard on the radio that there were going to be high waves on the lake, I ran out of the house to see them. It turned out I was not alone, and other people were taking way more risky positions to take pictures of the waves. 

I didn’t want to risk my life, but I think my videos are still very impressive :).

Also, tonight was a CSO concert I was going to. I was fine taking the CTA, but my friend and her husband were driving from the burbs, and it took them twice longer than they planned. Good thing we planned a pre-concert dinner! And good thing I suggested we would meet at the Gage two hours before the concert, so even with the weather-related delay we were fine. 

It looked like many people chose to skip the concert due to the weather; there were many empty seats in the audience. When maestro Muti came on stage, he addressed the audience: all of those who came – you are brave people, and you really love music!

The concert was fantastic, with Mitsuko Uchida in Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto, and with the first time performed by CSO Glass’ 11th symphony. (In fact, this concert was a part of “By the Glass” series advertised by Siskel Center). It was such unusual music… and it was so Muti! It felt like it was written just for him to conduct it! 

Cultural Activities

The Illinois indoor mask mandate will expire on February 28, and it looks like the city of Chicago will follow suit. Masks will still be required in the hospitals and such, in schools (if the legal battles will get to some resolution), and on public transport (thank goodness!!!)

I will monitor the situation, and I guess I will act as I feel comfortable. What makes me really happy is that pretty much all festivals and celebrations are returning. I still need to copy the schedule to my calendar, but I already know that summer will be busy in a good way!

That being said, there were a lot of cultural activities in the past two weeks, as much as I could fit with the amount of work I had!

I finally went to see a movie in the Siskel center with Igor (they are running so many interesting programs, and I can’t find time for any!) We went to see a 1971 movie from the “Bad Romance” series “The new leaf.’ Nothing special, but it was very entertaining. 

Then, there was a Hairspray production in the CIBC Theater. I tried to do a Broadway in Chicago subscription this year, and I am still unsure whether I like it and will do it in the future, but I am attending several performances this season. 

Official photo
Continue reading “Cultural Activities”

CSO Concert

The CSO concert yesterday was incredible! I planned to go with my neighbor, but she decided to stay at home while the virus situation was crazy. I completely understood her, but still, I decided I was going.
I would not say the orchestra hall was packed, but there was a substantial crowd.
The program is on the photo below, and I think I do not need to write anything else. The program was fantastic, and the conductor and the soloist were perfect.


It might seem that you can’t do anything new with Rapsody in Blue, especially in Chicago, but still, that was a performance like no other I ever heard. And the audience reacted enthusiastically.

Merry, Merry Chicago Concert

Yesterday, I was at the CSO holiday concert – what a delight! It was a last-minute decision; I was not sure I would fit it into my schedule comfortably. I decided just a couple of days before the concert, and I also invited one of my friends with her daughter. It was their first time for both of them in the CSO, and I like to take people to the CSO for the first time almost as much as I like to teach people to skate!

It was a very good concert, very festive, the one which helps to feel the holiday magic. I can recall a couple of more exciting shows, which would tell a story (like the one based on O’Henry’s The Gifts of the Magi or the one about the Christmas truce during WWI), but this one was still very good.

The best thing was that the CSO returned to the holiday tradition and presented “Christmas in Chicago” at the end (and as it ought to be, it was not on the program). I think it was in 2018 when they did not sing this song, and I was so upset with it that I ended up not going in 2019!

SO this year, the concert is back, and Christmas in Chicago is back! 

And for those who for some reason never heard this song, here ae official lyrics:

Christmas in Chicago – lyrics

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Snowflakes fill the frosty air, skaters frolic on the square

And on State Street dazzling windows are a beautiful sight to see

Christmas in Chicago, as hearts fill with wonder

Lights sparkle all along Magnificent Mile

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

At Christmas all Chicago wears a smile

The City of Big Shoulders wears a robe of winter white

The lion statues wear their wreaths of green

Picasso’s sculpture wears a cheerful multicolored glow

Reflected from the city’s Christmas tree

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

We’ll make a trip to carol at the zoo in Lincoln Park

We’ll sing for kangaroo and chimpanzee

We’ll warm up with hot chocolate there and then we’ll go downtown

To Marshall Field’s and sit on Santa’s knee

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Sleigh bells ring on horsedrawn cabs near Water Tower Place

Church bells peal from steeples ’round the town

Salvation Army Santas add a joyful ring-a-ling

The Loop is filled with happy Christmas sounds

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Chicago’s kind of Christmas is a magic kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Yesterday, I was at the CSO holiday concert – what a delight! It was a last-minute decision; I was not sure I would fit it into my schedule comfortably. I decided just a couple of days before the concert, and I also invited one of my friends with her daughter. It was their first time for both of them in the CSO, and I like to take people to the CSO for the first time almost as much as I like to teach people to skate!

It was a very good concert, very festive, the one which helps to feel the holiday magic. I can recall a couple of more exciting shows, which would tell a story (like the one based on O’Henry’s The Gifts of the Magi or the one about the Christmas truce during WWI), but this one was still very good.

The best thing was that the CSO returned to the holiday tradition and presented “Christmas in Chicago” at the end (and as it ought to be, it was not on the program). I think it was in 2018 when they did not sing this song, and I was so upset with it that I ended up not going in 2019!

SO this year, the concert is back, and Christmas in Chicago is back! 

And for those who for some reason never heard this song, here are official lyrics:

Christmas in Chicago – lyrics

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Snowflakes fill the frosty air, skaters frolic on the square

And on State Street dazzling windows are a beautiful sight to see

Christmas in Chicago, as hearts fill with wonder

Lights sparkle all along Magnificent Mile

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

At Christmas all Chicago wears a smile

The City of Big Shoulders wears a robe of winter white

The lion statues wear their wreaths of green

Picasso’s sculpture wears a cheerful multicolored glow

Reflected from the city’s Christmas tree

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

We’ll make a trip to carol at the zoo in Lincoln Park

We’ll sing for kangaroo and chimpanzee

We’ll warm up with hot chocolate there and then we’ll go downtown

To Marshall Field’s and sit on Santa’s knee

Christmas in Chicago is my kind of Christmas

It’s just what Christmas ought to be

Sleigh bells ring on horsedrawn cabs near Water Tower Place

Church bells peal from steeples ’round the town

Salvation Army Santas add a joyful ring-a-ling

The Loop is filled with happy Christmas sounds

Christmas in Chicago is music and laughter

And singing carols here at Orchestra Hall

I love Christmas in Chicago, that’s my kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all

Chicago’s kind of Christmas is a magic kind of Christmas

It’s like no other Christmas at all!

And that’s exactly how we felt!

Continue reading “Merry, Merry Chicago Concert”

The Chicago Symphony Opens The Season

It’s late, and I should go to bed right away, but I have to say something about today’s concert. The whole week was a week of openings of the season: first the Lyric last Friday, then the Music of Baroque on Monday, and today, it was Chicago Symphony – maestro Muti reunited with his orchestra.

It was the best thing in this season so far. Even the way they played a National Anthem at the beginning of the concert, my friend Geri and I agreed that it was incredibly moving. Maestro Muti talked to the audience in the beginning. He said he had to prepare a celebratory speech, but he couldn’t find the right words “because English was not his native language.” In reality, he was very emotional, and his hands trembled when he was holding a mike. He talked about the past pandemic and how musicians suffered because they could not talk to the world. He said that we all were there not just to listen to the music but also to interact with the orchestra. And also, he said that music is inclusive, there is a place for everybody, and “those how is saying all this garbage … it’s just garbage!” Everybody laughed: he said in before conducting a piece by Florence Price 🙂

The pictures below were taken before people started to come in, and later there was a full house. I think my friend has more; if that’s the case, I will share them.