Music Reviews

Review: Another summer at the Grant Park Music Festival ends

Review: Another summer at the Grant Park Music Festival ends

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic As summer winds down, gasping for its last moments of hot sunshine (rather feebly at the moment), so too do the summer music festivals and outdoor concerts wane here in Chicago. I caught the penultimate concert of the summer season at the Grant Park Music Festival at the end(…)

Review: Mattila’s masterful moments at the Martin Theatre

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Opera star Karita Mattila took the small stage at Ravinia’s Martin Theatre this month for a song recital which showcased her vocal talents in an intimate setting, making for a wonderful evening of music. The Finnish soprano opened with four songs by Brahms, juxtaposing hard-hitting big sound with evocative(…)

Review: Conlon bids farewell to Ravinia with a splendid “Dutchman”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic James Conlon, who since 2005 has held the title music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Residency at the Ravinia Festival, ended his tenure Saturday night. His final trip to the Ravinia podium as music director was a concert performance of “The Flying Dutchman” by Wagner, featuring the Chicago(…)

Still the best

By M.L.RANTALA Classical Music Critic William Grant Still (1895 – 1978) is an American composer whose quality of musical compositions in a large number of forms unaccountably far exceeds his current reputation. He wrote in an unapologetically populist style, rejecting most 20th century compositional techniques (although he had once studied with Edgar Varèse), instead insisting(…)

Sibelius scores sparkle at Grant Park

Sibelius scores sparkle at Grant Park

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The year 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius (1865 – 1956). To mark this milestone, the Grant Park Music Festival placed a trio of Sibelius compositions in a performance held last Tuesday night at the South Shore Cultural Center. The concert featured 20th and(…)

Review: Leo Fall operetta falls short

Review: Leo Fall operetta falls short

Where: Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St. When: through Aug. 2 Tickets: chicagofolksoperetta.org By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Leo Fall (1873 – 1925) was one of the great composers of operettas. He got his early training at the Vienna Conservatory and once worked as a violinist in Franz Lehár’s orchestra. He wrote his first(…)

Review: Summer music at two Hyde Park landmarks

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon in Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago is the world’s second largest musical instrument. The largest is its sister carillon (also named for Laura Spelman Rockefeller) at the Riverside Church in New York City. This year, the University of Chicago marks half(…)

Review: Grant Park Music Festival weathers the storms

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Weather was certainly an annoying factor during the first week of the 2015 Grant Park Music Festival. The mid-week opening night was cool and looked to be rainy, which kept some people away even though the evening remained dry. On the other hand, the first Saturday night performance of(…)