Summer is often heralded as Chicago's best season. Festivals and parties fill up the city's streets, good weather and good food abound, and everyone can briefly forget about the city's frightful winters. One other facet of summertime in Chicago is the abundance of free music — whether on a grand, orchestral scale at the Grant Park Music Festival, or in a more intimate setting, as with the Rush Hour Concerts.
Held at St. James Cathedral in River North, the Rush Hour Concerts are a Chicago institution unto themselves. The pitch is as simple as it is appealing: avoid getting caught up in after hours traffic jams by attending a free classical recital.
Last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Music Foundation, which organizes the concert series, turned to streaming to present their concerts. This year, they're taking a hybrid approach, with partial capacity at St. James Cathedral and a free concurrent livestream. The Rush Hour summer series kicks off at 5:45 pm on June 1 with a recital of Schubert's Cello Quintet performed by some of the city's finest musicians: the CSO's Stephanie Jeong and Gina DiBello, violins; Lawrence Neuman, viola; and Brant Taylor and Kenneth Olsen, cello.
In coming weeks, Rush Hour Concerts will feature Romantic staples of the piano trio repertoire, Baroque-era hidden gems, local favorites like the Chen String Quartet, the Lincoln Trio, and the KAIA String Quartet, and more!
Visit imfchicago.org to learn more about the Rush Hour Concert series; attendance is free, but due to reduced capacity, reservations are required. Visit WFMT's Facebook page to stream upcoming recitals including performances in the Rush Hour Concert series.