WFMT’s Musical Chicago Summer Guide

By Hannah Edgar |

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Few will argue that summer is the best season to be in Chicago. The same could be said for its musical offerings — the city’s off-season is not only as vibrant as the rest of the year, but includes an incredible diversity of concert experiences. That’s where this interactive guide comes in. We know that every listener is different, so we’ve assembled a few top picks across different categories. Are you an avid picnicker? Looking for something to do with the kids? We’ve got it all, plus something everyone loves: free concerts.


Luciano Pavarotti as Enzo Grimaldo in the SF Opera’s 1979 production of La Gioconda (Photo: Ron Scherl)
June 7, 2019
The man with the larger-than-life voice gets an appropriately cinematic treatment in this new documentary by Ron Howard.
June 20, 2019
For Clear SkiesFor Free
Playing the six unaccompanied cello suites by Bach is always a bit of a homecoming for Yo-Yo Ma, and in June, the inimitable cellist returns to Chicago to perform the full set in Millennium Park.
June 21, 2019
For Clear SkiesFor FreeFor the Whole Family
Cities all over the world have put on their own summer solstice music festivals, but the City of Big Shoulders goes especially big with its take. This annual celebration encompasses hundreds of free performances and workshops across the city.
June 22, 2019
For Clear SkiesFor FreeFor the Whole Family
The Chicago-based contemporary music collective trades green rooms for green spaces in a weekend of free performances for all ages at the end of June.
The artists of D-Composed: (L-R) Caitlin Edwards, violin; Kyle Dickson, violin; Kori Coleman, founder and experience curator; Danielle Taylor, artistic director and viola; Tahira Whittington, cello (Photo: Ally Almore)
June 22, 2019
For Free
Chicago-based ensemble D-Composed returns with a new, free classical program that draws from "jazz, pop, and blues" at the newly-opened Green Line Performing Arts Center.
June 27, 2019
filmFor the Whole Family
The Boy Who Lived returns to Symphony Center, continuing the CSO’s season-spanning live performances of the book-turned-film franchise’s score (here by John Williams).
June 29, 2019
For Clear SkiesFor Free
Ever wished you could play in a professional symphony? The Chicago Philharmonic’s “Side by Side” series, held in venues throughout the city, gives you the chance to do just that.
July 5, 2019
For Clear Skies
“Like father, like son” is no empty cliche for Jeffrey and Gabriel Kahane: Jeffrey is a fêted concert pianist whose roots are in folk and rock music, and his son Gabriel is both a singer-songwriter and composer.
July 10, 2019
filmFor Clear SkiesFor FreeFor the Whole Family
Millennium Park will start to look an awful lot like the Emerald City in July's screening of this pioneering Technicolor classic, with the Grant Park Festival Orchestra giving Herbert Stothart’s iconic score the full-orchestra treatment.
July 10, 2019
Luxuriate in the distinguished voices of Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez — and soak up the AC while you're at it — for this encore screening of Rossini's cherished, uproarious opera buffa.
July 21, 2019
For Free
Pianist Marianne Parker — also one-half of the L+M Duo — plays through neglected Romantic-era keyboard repertoire from Haiti, as well as works by a new guard of living Haitian composers.
July 28, 2019
For Clear SkiesFor Something New
Soprano Renée Fleming portrays Odysseus’s long-suffering wife alongside the Emerson String Quartet, who preface Andre Previn’s final completed work with instrumental preludes by Haydn and Barber.
August 10, 2019
For Clear SkiesFor the Whole Family
What’s billed as the world’s only classical music street festival returns for its fourth iteration, featuring food trucks, drinks, and vendors, plus music performances by Chicago Ensemble, ~Nois, Zafa Collective, and more.
August 15, 2019
For Free
Flutist d’amour Leighann Daihl Ragusa, harpsichordist Charles Metz, and soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg use the sound-world of the Baroque to bring a fresh perspective to contemporary scores.