Commuting is, once again, part of many of our days. And so, once again, the simple concept of the Rush Hour Concerts becomes vital. Stuck in traffic? Packed into a CTA car? Lining up for the Metra? This was all avoidable! Instead, postpone your commute home a couple of hours, and take in a free, 45-minute concert from preeminent Chicago-area musicians.
The Rush Hour Concerts, the International Music Foundation’s weekly summer series, began in 2000. The past two years have seen different combinations of streaming and in-person, but this year sees a full return to full audiences (though streaming is still available for out-of-towners and work-from-homers). Held at St. James Cathedral in River North, the events also offer a pre-concert conversations or lectures to help audiences get that much more out of the music.
The 12-concert season began on June 7 with the Kontras Quartet, which performed Florence Price’s String Quartet No. 2 and Apologia at Umzimvubu by contemporary South African-born composer Bongani Ndondana-Breen.
Future weeks will see the Chen String Quartet, the St. James Cathedral Choir, the Lincoln Trio, Axiom Brass, CSO soloists, Lyric Opera Orchestra artists, and more, performing music of Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel, Louise Farrenc, Astor Piazzolla, and Chicago composers Augusta Read Thomas, Stacy Garrop, Shulamit Ran, and Shawn E. Okpebholo.
Other standout appearances include Sarah Manasrah (clarinet), Alexander Hersh (cello), Marie Tachouet (flute), and Eleanor Kirk (harp).
The annual concert in memory of Deborah Sobol, the late founder and director of the Rush Hour Concerts, will be held on August 2 and feature cellists from the CSO in works by JS Bach, Franz Schubert, Tanya Anisimova, and more.
The season concludes on August 23 with a program of piano quintets of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Antonín Dvořák. Performers for this finale recital are violinists John Macfarlane and Eoin Andersen, violist Aurelien Pascal, cellist David Cunliffe, and pianist Victor Santiago Asunción.
Rush Hour Concerts continue into August; each concert is free to attend and stream. Visit imfchicago.org to learn more.
Editor’s note: WFMT collaborates with the International Music Foundation on the weekly Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts broadcast series.