Audiences to Return, Venue to Move for Weekly Hess Concerts


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The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago (Photo: John Cahill Photography)

For almost 45 years, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts have been bringing top-tier, free classical music performances to the people of Chicago. On September 1, after a nearly-18-month absence, the concert series — organized by the International Music Foundation Chicago and broadcast on air and online by WFMT — will welcome in-person audiences. And audiences will be coming to a new venue: the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago.

The church building, an iconic midcentury monument on the Loop’s Upper Wacker Drive, was designed by famed architect Harry Weese. Audiences will benefit from excellent acoustics, increased capacity, and much-improved sightlines. But virtual and radio audience members need not worry: WFMT will continue to share the performances live over the air and via video on Facebook and YouTube.

The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago (Photo: John Cahill Photography)

IMF executive director Mark Riggleman expressed his excitement to “welcome audiences in such a wonderful space that will allow for more people to experience the incredible musicians that appear on the Hess Concerts.” Meanwhile, station general manager George Preston added that WFMT is “delighted to partner with the International Music Foundation on this new adventure.”

The premiere concert at Seventeenth Church will feature violist Jordan Bak and pianist Ji Young Lee in music by Haydn, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and H. Leslie Adams. Irrespective of vaccination status, all attendees will be required to wear a face mask throughout the recital.