CSO

I opened the CSO season later than I should have because I was traveling most of September and had to exchange the ticket. But today, I listened to Ricardo Muti and Efim Brofman, which was great.

Overall, today was a day from the past. Finally, I had to admit that it’s not like I was choosing the wrong trains, but Metra indeed became almost as crowded as pre-pandemic, and I am glad that during rush hour, trains depart every fifteen minutes. The streets started to look busy, and the Symphony center was full. And I liked that I could stay in the office until it was time to go to the concert. Strangely, it felt like a moment to relax 🙂

Grant Park Music Festival End of Season

The last concert will take place on Saturday, but for me, Wednesday was the last one I attend this season. It was a beautiful event, and as usual, Carlos Kalmar was amazing!

The concert theme was “Fairy tales,” starting with Tchaikovsky’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” and the orchestra and the conductor were projected onto a big screen.

Also, the weather was perfect for the concert – not too cold, not too hot, and that was the only time during this season that I was able to take mom to the concert.

Jesus Christ Superstar

I could never imagine that any Broadway in Chicago show could be a disappointment, yet it happened! It seemed, however, that Boris and I were the only two people in the audience who were disappointed. I checked several reviews – all of them are very positive. Only two of them mentioned imperfect sound mix, which made it difficult to understand the lyrics. In fact, it was so bad, that if I won’t know most of the lyrics by heart, it would be impossible. I do not want to go into details of what was bad, but I think that pretty much everything didn’t sound it’s best. Maybe, it was just that performance, because I hate to be in a disappointed minority :).

Summer Music In Helsinki

During my unplanned stay in Helsinki earlier this week, we went to two concerts. One was a short lunchtime concert at Suomenlinna Church (yes, we went there again :)).

Very short, but very pleasant

Then on Wednesday, we went to the concert of Finnish Baroque Orchestra in the Saksalainen Church in Helsinki. Boris is a part of their “friends circle”, and I never attended their concerts.

They are really-really-really good! Performing “here and now”, enjoying what they do, and giving the distinct feeling of “making the music”.

Saksalainen Church

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”