James Levine Named Ravinia Conductor Laureate

By Michael San Gabino |

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James Levine led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2” last year at the Ravinia Festival. (Photo: Russell Jenkins/Ravinia Festival)

James Levine, recently retired music director of the Metropolitan Opera, was named conductor laureate of the Ravinia Festival today. Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman announced that the new role is “reserved for an exalted musician whose eminent leadership has formed and shaped an institution’s artistic quality over time.”

Beginning in 2018, Maestro Levine will conduct concerts in a two-week annual residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He will also coach musicians at Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, a professional conservatory he established with longtime Ravinia executive director Edward Gordon in 1988.

Maestro Levine was the music director of the Ravinia Festival from 1973 to 1993. He made his highly anticipated return to Ravinia on July 23, 2016 in a performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. The performance was broadcast on WFMT on Monday, August 15, 2016.

Audiences can expect to see Maestro Levine at Ravinia on August 8, 2017 to lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Haydn’s The Creation.

“This is a homecoming that few musicians are privileged to experience,” Levine said in a Ravinia press release regarding his appointment as Conductor Laureate. “It’s an exciting amalgamation of history and my future, and how proud I am to feel at home in front of one of the world’s finest ensembles in one of the world’s most charming and inviting venues.”

For more information about the Ravinia Festival, visit their website.