|Riccardo Muit and MCANA members / photo credit: Todd Rosenberg|
Our conference included two concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plus a meeting with its music director Riccardo Muti, and one concert by the Grant Park Orchestra plus a meeting with its music director Carlos Kalmar. We also had informative panel discussions on a variety of topics and a couple of opulent receptions that gave us the fleeting feeling of importance. I decided to stay an extra day to hear another concert by the Grant Park Orchestra since it was a rare opportunity for me to hear another orchestra under the baton Kalmar, who, as most of you know, is the music director of the Oregon Symphony.
On Tuesday evening (June 17), we heard the CSO under Muti play Schubert’s Sixth Symphony, Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, and Schubert’s First Symphony. This was the last of four performances that the orchestra did of this program, and the hall was almost sold out. The highlight of the concert was the Mozart, which featured the CSO’s principal bassoonist David McGill, who is retiring from the orchestra at the end of the season after 17 years with the band. He will become a professor of bassoon at Northwestern University.
|David McGill - Riccardo Muti - CSO / photo credit: Todd Rosenberg|
Both Schubert pieces were played elegantly by the CSO. The Sixth Symphony featured graceful ensemble work by the principal members of the woodwinds in a couple of extended passages. The sound of smooth and fleet strings enhanced both the Sixth and the First symphonies. Nuanced dynamics made the music a pleasure to hear, but the fourth movement (Allegro vivace) of the Fourth was the most spirited, spurred by Muti, who is 72 years old, who seemed to jump a couple of times.
Just after the concert, in the lobby, I ran into Oregon Symphony violinist Emily Cole and OSO bassoonist Evan Kuhlmann. Both were in town to play with the Grant Park Orchestra as subs. Kuhlmann was still in awe of McGill’s performance.
|Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein, CSO vice president Martha Gilmer, CSO violinist David Taylor, composer Anna Clyne, and composer Mason Bates / photo credit: Todd Rosenberg|
|Muti talking with MCANA members|
|Looking down on Grant Park/Millennium Park/Pritzker Pavilion from the Cliff Dwellers Club|
The orchestra was onstage for the concert on Wednesday evening (June 18th) and warming up with thunder and lightning struck. Rain began to pour down in buckets and that overflowed the drainage system on top of the Frank Geary-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Water started to gush down from the roof and hit the stage right in front of the podium. The orchestra quickly exited the stage, and the audience was asked to move to east-side parking garage. I found out later that the park management was very worried that the lightning would strike the metal surface of the Pavilion and the damage that might ensue (it is grounded, but there are still a lot of ifs that only a real lightning strike would “resolve”).
|Jackiw, Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra|
After the applause ended, the larger orchestral forces quickly took their places and Kalmar got them launched in Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 3, a rarely heard work. It started energetically, with muscular and broad brush strokes by Kalmar, but just a few minutes later, thunder and lighten started to smack the skies. I saw at least four flashes of lightning, and they were… not far away, and the thunder was like an amplified bowling alley. So, part officials bolted from the wings onto the stage and closed the concert. Kalmar faced the audience and shrugged his shoulders. He then came to the lip of the stage and applauded the audience (which had shrunk to about 600) for staying. People came up to him to shake his hand and talk. I said hello, and he teased me about bringing rain from Oregon. Another fellow talked with him in Spanish, and he signed programs for others. It was a disappointing end to the concert, but people were still upbeat, and Kalmar greeted all who came forward.
|Kalmar and audience|
|Ed Uhlir, Carlos Kalmar, and Jill Hurwitz|
|Muti conducting the Mahler 1|
|Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra|