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.

Music Of The Baroque Concert

Among of gazillion subscriptions I purchased for the upcoming season was Music of the Baroque 50th season. I was a subscriber many years ago, but then I dropped this subscription because it felt like “too much” – I didn’t enjoy the concerts when I knew I had to come home very late several times a week.

This season, I am so hungry for music that I even asked Boris to stop me from purchasing too much:). I ended up purchasing four concerts. I also marked the calendar for a free concert in Millennium Park. 

Two weeks ago, I received an email from Music of Baroque, which said that since I am a subscriber, I can get VIP seating for this concert for free. Of course, I RSVPed yes!

The concert was yesterday, and since the weather was perfect, I took mom to the concert. At some point, I was slightly hesitant to go because I had so many things to do for work and the Postgres community at large, and I am so glad I went! 

I never sat on these VIP seats so close to the stage – and that’s an extraordinary experience. Dame Jane Glover was even more enthusiastic than ever to be reunited with her orchestra! In the course of about 75 minutes, Dame Jane gave a preview of the whole season, featuring Hendel, Bach, Mozart, and Purcell, including excerpts of classics, like Music for the Royals Fireworks and a brand new commission dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the orchestra –  Spectacle of Light by Chicago-based composer Stacy Garrop. A young cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing was amazing! 

I was waling out of the concert thinking: why there were times when I thought that I do not really need this subscription?! Why I thought it being “too much of the same stuff” and sometime boring?!

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The Rest Of Weekend Activities

To recap the rest of our weekend activities: after the architectural tour, we went to the Chicago Architectural Center – we disembarked right there, and also, Lena didn’t visit it since it moved to this new home. We saw the exhibit of Helmut Jahn, which I saw earlier with my mom, and the permanent exhibit on urban development, which was very interesting.

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I Have An Out-Of-Town Guest!

I have a first out-of-town guest who is not a family member! Lena came to visit me from Ann Arbor, and it feels like in the old days, only it is easier now to get to all city attractions. She arrived Friday afternoon, and I started work early in the morning so that I could be done for the day by 3 PM.

After a brief tour of my new place, we headed to the Loop. We went to the Art Institute and saw Obama Portraits and Bisa Butler exhibits; then we went to the Millennium Park for the Classic Broadway concert, and then we strolled the night Riverwalk, and we even had time to have a late-night tea on my balcony!

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… And Music Again!

Just a week ago, I wrote about the live concerts, how much I missed them, and how I can’t get enough of them now. But today’s concert stands out even among this season’s excellent programs.
Today, Augustin Haidelich performed Sibelius Violin Concerto, and I do not have proper words to describe my emotions. I didn’t hear of this concert before, and it carried me away from the very first sound. I was so beautiful; I was barely holding tears after ten minutes of the performance.

The music was becoming more and more beautiful with every note. I felt as if my heart is going to explode.
I didn’t know that Sibelius dreamed of becoming a violin virtuoso but lacked the necessary motor skills. In the performance program notes, they cited one of the music critics:

Here is one of the ew concertos that speak Sibelius’s dearest wish to become a great virtuoso Every time this music is performed, the audience hears a love letter written to the violinist Sibelius was never able to become.

I felt it more like an orgy than a love letter, but I can wholeheartedly agree with the level of emotions :).

There was a standing ovation at the end of this piece, and Haidelich went for the encore.

I found multiple recordings of this concerto online.

Music And More Music!

I can’t get enough of live music! I didn’t even realize how much I missed it until I attended the first Grant Park Festival concert! Now, I try to come to each of the concerts, the weather and other circumstances permit:). Today, mom told me she does not want to go. That was probably for the best because it was hot until the concert was over. But boy, how much I enjoyed the music!

I love the comments maestro Calmor makes about composers and specific pieces, even though a couple of times he was wrong :).

Today, he talked about the Mercadante, a composer who wrote sixty operas that nobody performs anymore. The work performed tonight was a Flute Concerto, and it was amazingly good! I could not stop smiling while listening! The Saint-Saëns Symphony No 2 was also unknown to me, so it was another discovery.

To continue on the topic of music, last weekend, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the next season’s subscriptions. It’s a little bit scary to make such long-term plans because, as we all know, the cases I rising again. But I hope that people will start vaccinating more, after all (the number of vaccinations per day finally started to rise in Illinois), and also – I am perfectly fine wearing a mask both inside and outside, as long as I can do things! That being said, I was figuring out my subscriptions and memberships. I switched to the Family Plus in the Field Museum (and I just realized that Chicago residency gives me a discount!). I subscribed to the CSO Fall season. It turned out that I still had almost a thousand bucks credit from the previous two seasons, although I donated a lot of the unused credits. I only used half of it, and I am planning to subscribe to more family shows. I also subscribed to the Jeoffrey Ballet, bought one ticket to the pre-Broadway run of the Paradise Square, and I think I will also subscribe for several Baroque concerts :).

Seriously, I didn’t realize how much I miss live music!

Now I know how to choose a spot away form the crowd

Grant Park Music Festival Is Back!

The Grant Park Music Festival season opened on July 1, but on that day, the weather was just a little bit too cool for the outdoor evening concert. I decided to give it a shot on Saturday (after returning from the Dunes) even though there was a risk of a big crowd.

And boy, there was a crowd! For a moment, I was questioning the sanity of my decision, especially because I asked mom to come and meet us there, but it turned out great!

We sat on the stairs, which instantly provided more distance. There was a large screen over the stage – new this year, so we could see everything that was going on on stage.

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The Organ Recital

An Organ Music Festival was going on this summer in Helsinki. The short recitals took place in different churches of the city; on weekdays only because on weekends, more important things are happening. Unfortunately, due to the combination of my work meetings schedule and Boris’s schedule, we were only able to attend one concert on Tuesday.

Photography inside the church was not allowed. Boris told me, that at the previous concerts he attended there were signs on the seats suggesting people to skip rows and to sit sparsely. At that concert, there were no signs, but people were just choosing their seats away from each other, so that the church was filled in a vey nice distant way.

I hope that next summer, they will have the same festival again, and I will be able to attend the concert at Suomenlinna!

Reopening

Being able to come to the city and do stuff in the city is a very important part of my feeling of being “myself.” And now, some cultural attractions started to reopen. I want to mention that I have no desire to do things just because “they are allowed,” if I won’t be doing them under normal circumstances.

When the Chicago History Museum opened, I didn’t rush there because I didn’t go there for four years :). I checked all the walking tours of CAC and didn’t find any which I would be interested so again, I didn’t go. Although I think that is was a great idea to resume walking tours in small groups.
Aquarium opened on July 3, first for Members only, and now for everybody, but with advanced reservations (and will 1/4 of capacity). I love Aquarium, but I am used to going there with somebody, to whom I could show stuff for the first time. I tried to book the members’ hours for one of the future dates, but it turned out that they won’t give me an extra quest ticket in these circumstances at Aquarium. And I didn’t feel like going alone.

The Field Museum is reopening this weekend; actually, it reopened on Friday. The first five days were for Members only, but once again, I could not find the time, which would work for me, and I didn’t want to bring mom to the city during the excessive heat. So I decided – some time next time.
And today, the Art Institute announced that they are opening on July 30! And they are doing it the best way! Like all other museums, they will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They have flexible hours, so there are still days when they are open late, and each day (with no reservations required), the first hour is members- only. Can’t wait 🙂

Also, the Chicago Symphony finally sent a message about the next season. Lyric Opera and some of the theaters have already canceled the first part of the season. But the CSO said that they are going to try having some smaller concerts, and some broadcasts. They laid out all the limitations (50 people per sitting area, entrance-exit rules, etc.) I hope that this will happen

CRESCENDO: A Movie by Dror Zahavi

I watched this movie, although I didn’t have time, and I had other things to do. I dropped everything and could not stop. And now I can’t do anything until I write about it.

As a Chicagoan, and as a music lover, I know about Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, how I could not know? He talks about this orchestra almost every time he talks about anything publicly. I also know that many people, both inside and outside Israel, do not like this project. Barenboim always says that that project won’t bring peace, won’t stop the war, but it helps to build understanding. Now I am wondering, to what extent this movie is “loosely based” on Barenboim’s story. Because it’s way worse. And hopeless.

Twenty years ago, I resolved that I will never speak or write publicly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is one of those conflicts, where everybody is right, and everybody is wrong, and there is no way to change anybody’s opinion. And sadly, this brilliant movie proves it.

I do not think that anybody who believes that there is a right side of that conflict, should watch this movie. There is a reason why on Vimeo, the comments for that movie are disabled. I wanted to cry through most of the movie. And I want to cry now.