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      CSO at Millennium Park: Allegro con Muti

      Update: 7:43 pm CDT Friday's crowd is estimated at over 20,000 people. Hundreds more are being turned away at the park entrance. Riccardo Muti brings the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Millennium Park on Friday for a free, all-Tchaikovsky concert. It's been four years to the day since Maestro Muti gave his inaugural concert in the park's more...

      Documentary Filmmaker Phil Grabsky at WFMT

      When Phil Grabsky looks out into the world, he sees stories that need to be told. As an independent filmmaker, he's followed his passion from Brazil to Angola, from Chernobyl to Afghanistan. He also has a fascination for great composers. Phil Grabsky is in Chicago to introduce his new film In Search of Chopin more...

      CSO Will Roll Out with a Bang

      The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes a joyful noise this weekend, performing to capacity crowds. Riccardo Muti opens the concert season with four sold-out performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and a free Tchaikovsky concert at Millennium Park. With orchestra and chorus declaring Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy more...

      Winners of Genius Grants “Inspire us all”

      People who win don't even know they've been considered, but on Wednesday they were identified by international news agencies as "21 extraordinarily creative people who inspire us all." Some are scientists; others are historians, poets, or lawyers. There's an artist, a jazz musician, and a cartoonist. They are the 2014 MacArthur Fellows, recipients of what's often called the genius grant, a $625,000 cash prize – no strings attached more...

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      Otello; Rigoletto; Macbeth review

      Coliseum; Royal Opera House; Barbican theatre, London
      ENOs new Otello sidesteps an old problem, while the ethnic tension is viscerally felt in an African Macbeth

      When Laurence Olivier played Othello he studied the mannerisms of Sammy Davis Jr to give the noble Moor what he called negritude. Not everyone was impressed. Those days are long gone. In a spirit of liberal optimism we might hope that we can sidestep the question of Othellos colour or race entirely. Yet it indelibly shapes text and action, whether in Shakespeare or in the shorn libretto version for Verdis penultimate opera nearly 300 years later.

      Our own multicultural times may be closer to the Venetian-Ottoman melting pot of the play, but our sensibilities are entirely different. The issue, with all its unanswerable variables, is as alive as ever. Verdi, significantly, does not give his Moor any distinctive stylistic music to sing to set him apart (as Mozart or Rossini did with their exotics). Yet he codenamed the work Chocolate or African, which gives pause for thought.

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      Bach Cantatas: Recreation for the Soul review in the best traditions of period playing

      Magdalena Consort/Harvey, Elin Manahan Thomas, Daniel Taylor, James Gilchrist
      (Channel Classics)

      Buoyant and agile in performance, small in scale and steeped in the best traditions of period playing putting musicality over scholarship the Magdalena Consort was founded in 2008 by bass/director Peter Harvey. He and his musicians have grown up with the pioneering work of the Monteverdi Choir and John Eliot Gardiner, many having worked with him. The Magdalenas are the next generation, heading out alone. if you dont know them, try this brilliant disc. The three cantatas here the earliest surviving BWV 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich; BWV 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele and BWV 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben are linked by numerical and musical symbolism, acrostics and similar devices so often explored by Bach. On the other hand, just listening is reward enough.

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      Rameau: The Complete Works for Solo Harpsichord review nicely sonorous

      Ketil Haugsand
      (Simax Classics)

      Rameaus gloriously varied keyboard suites, combining traditional dances with fantastic character pieces such as the famous La poule, have received welcome attention in this anniversary year, with Stephen Gutmans complete traversal on piano and Mahan Estafani on harpsichord to come. Norways Ketil Haugsand is little known here: he is a Leonhardt pupil who sometimes sounds a touch severe in this ebullient music. The great Les Cyclopes is too deadpan, but in the E minor suite he suddenly blossoms with a flexible Gigue en rondeau and a chirpy Rappel des oiseaux. Haugsand plays a Flemish-style instrument that he built, not as rich as Trevor Pinnocks harpsichord from Edinburgh or Christophe Roussets historic French sound, but nicely sonorous.

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