Classical music fall preview

Classical Music Critic

The beginning of September means that autumn is not far away and so too the new classical music and opera season. This Fall Preview will highlight performances that take place September through December, beginning with Hyde Park, then moving to the greater South Side, and finally, the Loop. Chicago is well endowed with groups presenting fine music, so this preview can only scratch the surface.

The University of Chicago Presents (UCP) is our neighborhood’s premiere presenter of classical music. This year, in addition to bringing top performers from around the world to Hyde Park, the UCP schedule is dotted all season long with several concerts celebrating the music of György Ligeti (1923-2006). These Ligeti concerts have been packaged into its own special series for listeners who want to ensure they hear every one of these concerts.

The UCP Classic Concert Series kicks off on Fri., Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Mandel Hall with the Arditti Quartet playing music of Bartók and Ligeti. Violinist Leila Josefowicz performs works by Sibelius, Prokofiev, Saariaho, and more on Fri., Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Mandel Hall along with pianist John Novacek.

The Howard Mayer Brown International Early Music Series opens with a performance by Barokkolistene. They describe their program, entitled “An Alehouse Session, “as an evening of seducing, touching, folky, and serious music.” Fri., Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at International House (1414 E. 59th St.). The vocal ensemble amarcord performs in Rockefeller Chapel (5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.) on Fri., Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

UCP’s Contempo series begins with a concert by the Talea Ensemble on Fri., Oct 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Logan Center. On the program is music by Vituo Zuraj, Justyna Kowalska-Lason, Nicolai Worsaae, Christian Mason, and Ondrej Adamek.

The Imani Winds series begins on Fri., Nov. 10 at 7:30 in the Logan Center when that ensemble is joined by Dal Niente for a concert concentrating on the music of Ligeti.

For more information on University of Chicago Presents, visit

The Chicago Ensemble, known for intelligent, eclectic programming, opens their 41st season in Hyde Park on Sun., Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. with a program of vocal duets and violin sonatas by Mozart, Poulenc, Pergolesi, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. Their concerts take place Sundays at International House and Tuesdays at Fourth Presbyterian Church, near the Water Tower. For more information, visit

The Resurrection Music Series offers “Eine Kleine Sommermusik” at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Parish (5472 S. Kimbark Ave.) on Sun., Sep. 17 at 6:30 p.m. featuring soprano Esther Rayo, clarinetist Matvey Kostukovsky, and pianist Luciano Laurentiu. For tickets, call 773-324-2626.

The Chicago Music Association (CMA) presents “Fantasie Nègre IV” at 4 p.m. on Sun., Sep. 10 at the Paul Robeson Theater of the South Shore Cultural Center (7059 S. South Shore Dr.). The program will emphasize music by Black composers and features soprano Kimberly Jones, tenor Cornelius Johnson, and violinist James Sanders. Purchase tickets at Proceeds from this event go to support CMA, an organization nurturing and promoting Black musicians since 1919.

The South Shore Opera Company of Chicago presents the Chicago premiere of “The Poet,” a roughly one-hour opera about poet Paul Laurence Dunbar written by composer and librettist Steven M. Allen on Sun., Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center. Bass-baritone Martin Woods stars as Dunbar. Visit

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra season opens on Fri., Sep. 22 at 7 p.m. at Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave.) with Riccardo Muti conducting Rossini’s Overture to “William Tell”, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, and Tchaikovsky’s Suite from “The Sleeping Beauty.” Anne-Sophie Mutter is the violin soloist.

The CSO MusicNOW series gets underway on Mon., Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (200 E. Randolph Dr.). Cliff Colnot conducts works by Clyne, Golijov, Corigliano, Bates, Thomas, and Turnage. MusicNOW presents “Vijay Iyer, A Portrait” on Mon., Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at the same venue.

The Symphony Center Presents piano series opens with an all-Liszt recital by Louis Lortie on Sun., Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. at Symphony Center. Other pianists appearing this calendar year include Piotr Anderszewski, Ludovico Einaud and Lucas Debargue.

The orchestra series begins the season with the Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev on Wed., Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. with the music of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Richard Strauss. Denis Matsuev is piano soloist.

The Symphony Center Presents chamber music series opens on Fri., Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. with violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Alessio Bax performing works by Stravinsky, Grieg, and Brahms.

Symphony Center Presents offers a special concert on Tues., Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. featuring actor Bill Murray, cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang, and pianist Vanessa Perez. The program includes works by Bach, Beethoven, and Shostakovich as well as readings of texts by Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway and more.

The first CSO at the Movies concert this season is Fri., Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

All these concerts are at Symphony Center, unless otherwise noted. For more information on the wealth of offerings of the CSO and Symphony Center Presents, visit

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s glittering opening night is Sat., Sep. 23 at 6:30 p.m. with a new production of Gluck’s “Orphee et Eurydice” featuring the Joffrey Ballet and starring Dmitry Korchak and Andriana Chuchman. Harry Bicket conducts. “Orphee” runs through Oct. 15.

Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” starring Quinn Kelsey, Rosa Feola, and Matthew Polenzani runs from Oct. 7 to Nov. 3. Wagner’s “Die Walküre,” the most recent addition to Lyric’s new Ring Cycle, runs from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30 and stars Christine Goerke, Elisabet Strid, Brandon Jovanovich, and Eric Owens.

Other Lyric Opera productions opening before the new year are: “The Pearl Fishers” (Nov. 19 – Dec. 10), and “Turandot” (Dec. 5 –Jan. 27). All operas are performed at the Civic Opera House (20 N. Wacker Dr.) and offer projected English surtitles This year’s Lyric musical is “Jesus Christ Superstar,” opening in April of next year. For more information, visit