Grant Park Music Festival Announces 2018 Season

By Stephen Raskauskas |

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Today, the Grant Park Music Festival announced its 2018 season of concerts, which runs for 10 weeks from June 13 – August 18. This summer, the festival presents thirty concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park, as well as additional concerts at the South Shore Cultural Center, Columbus Park Refectory, and Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

A highlight of the festival season includes a new work by composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, which has its world premiere in Millennium Park on Wednesday, June 20 that coincides with the opening night of the 2018 annual conference of Chorus America, co-hosted by the festival and the Chicago Children’s Choir.

Dennis Russell Davies serves as guest conductor for a special concert celebrating the 80th birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom. The concert includes two of his symphonies paired with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and features mezzo-soprano Kelly O’Connor. Other guest soloists this season include pianist Kirill Gerstein, cellist Johannes Moser, violinist William Hagen, and pianist Natasha Paremski.

Carlos Kalmar leads the Grant Park Music Festival as principal conductor, a title he has held since 2000. Christopher Bell returns to direct the Grant Park Chorus and conduct the Independence Day salute, one of the festival’s most popular annual concerts.

See a full listing of concerts below and be sure to listen to WFMT this summer to hear many of these performances live from anywhere in the world.


Opening Night – Haydn and Walton
Wednesday, June 13 at 6:30 pm, and Saturday June 16 at 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Dashon Burton, baritone
Magiya, by Shepherd
Symphony No. 99, by Haydn
Belshazzar’s Feast, by Walton


Mozart Violin Concerto
Friday, June 15 at 6:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; William Hagen, violin
Overture to Orfeo ed Euridice, by Gluck
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, by Mozart
Overture to Euryanthe, by Weber
Enigma Variations, by Elgar


Bernstein, Brahms, and a World Premiere
Wednesday, June 20 at 6:30 pm
Friday, June 22 at 6:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus; Carlos Kalmar, conductor
Gesang der Parzen, by Brahms
O Sacrum Convivium, by Messiaen
Chichester Psalms, by Bernstein
World Premiere, Ešenvalds


Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3
Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Natasha Paremski, piano
Symphony No. 6, Piston
Piano Concerto No. 3, Rachmaninov


Schubert Symphony No. 3
Wednesday, June 27 at 6:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Adam Walker, flute
Le festin de l’araignée, Roussel
Flute Concerto, Nielsen
Poem, Griffes
Symphony No. 3, Schubert


Dvořák Cello Concerto
Friday, June 29 at 6:30 pm, and Saturday June 30 at 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Johannes Moser, cello
Cello Concerto, by Dvořák
Summer Evening, by Kodály
Sinfonietta, by Janáček


Independence Day Salute
Wednesday, July 4 at 6:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Christopher Bell, conductor; Emily Bear, piano

Christopher Bell leads the Festival’s annual Independence Day tradition, featuring an evening of patriotic favorites, plus George Gershwin’s triumphant Rhapsody in Blue.


Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5
Friday, July 6 at 6:30 pm, and Saturday, July 7 at 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, guest conductor; Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Symphony No. 5, by Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 4, by Bolcom
Symphony No. 5: Machine, by Bolcom


Music of the Silver Screen
Wednesday, July 11 at 8:00 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Vinay Parameswaran, guest conductor
Orchestral favorites from An American in Paris, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Citizen Kane, Ben Hur and more


I Could Have Danced All Night
Friday, July 13 at 8:00 pm, and Saturday, July 14 at 8:00 pm
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus; Kevin Stites, guest conductor; Sierra Boggess, Ryan Silverman, Ben Crawford, vocalists

The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus and guest artists from the Broadway stage in an evening of favorites by the acclaimed team of librettist-lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. With selections from My Fair Lady, Camelot, Brigadoon, Gigi and more.


Beethoven Symphony No. 2
Wednesday, July 18 at 6:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Roderick Cox, guest conductor; Jeremy Black, violin; Walter Haman, cello; Eric Hall, bassoon; Nathan Mills, oboe
Symphony No. 2, by Beethoven
Sinfonia Concertante, by Haydn
Overture to Tannhäuser, by Wagner


Grant Park Chorus in the Parks
Thursday, July 19 at 7:00 pm at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive
Sunday, July 22 at 7:00 pm at the Columbus Park Refectory, 5701 W. Jackson Boulevard
Christopher Bell, conductor

Christopher Bell and the Grant Park Chorus return to two of the city’s cultural hubs with a concert of a cappella music, featuring works by Bruckner, Britten, Tippet, Leighton and more.


Barber Violin Concerto
Friday, July 20 at 6:30 pm
Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Markus Stenz, guest conductor; Paul Huang, violin
Frenesia, by Glanert
Violin Concerto, by Barber
Symphony No. 1, Spring, by Schumann


Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2
Wednesday, July 25, 6:30 PM
Grant Park Orchestra; Gemma New, guest conductor; Kirill Gerstein, piano
Aotearoa, by Lilburn
Piano Concerto No. 2, by Liszt
Symphony No. 2, by Sibelius


Mendelssohn Scottish Symphony
Friday, July 27 at 6:30 pm , and Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; David Danzmayr, guest conductor; Colin Currie, percussion
Norfolk Rhapsody No. 2, by Vaughan Williams
Switch, by Norman
Symphony No. 3, Scottish, by Mendelssohn


Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet
Wednesday, August 1, 6:30 PM
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor
Overture to Othello, by Dvořák
Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, by Wagner
Macbeth, by Strauss
Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy, by Tchaikovsky


Haydn and Debussy
Friday, August 3 at 6:30 pm and Saturday, August 4 at 7:30 pm at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Street
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Janai Brugger, Lauren Segal, mezzo-soprano; Brendan Touhy, tenor; Michael Sumuel, bass
Overture to The Creation, by Haydn
Nocturnes, by Debussy    
Mass in B-flat Major: Theresa Mass, by Haydn


Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1
Wednesday, August 8 at 6:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; George Li, piano
Symphony in D Major, by Vincent
Piano Concerto No. 1, by Chopin
Nocturne in A-flat Major, by Chopin
Grande Valse Brilliante, by Chopin


Prokofiev and Vaughn Williams
Friday, August 10 at 6:30 pm and Saturday, August 11 and 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Pablo Ferrández, cello
Sinfonia Concertante, by Prokofiev
The Unanswered Question, by Ives
Symphony No. 4, by Vaughan Williams


Ryan Opera Center: The Old Maid and the Thief
Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Artists from Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center
The Old Maid and the Thief, by Menotti


Carmina Burana
Friday, August 17 at 6:30 pm and Saturday, August 18 at 7:30 pm
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Claire de Sevigne, soprano; Michael Maniaci, counter tenor; John Brancy, baritone; members of the Anima – Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Water Goblin, by Dvořák
Carmina Burana, by Orff