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Ravinia Music Director James Conlon Leads CSO with Star Soloist Joshua Bell and More, Now thru 7/29

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At 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 29, Ravinia Music Director James Conlon leads an all-Tchaikovsky program with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev. The concert includes Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36; Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23; and the annual Ravinia presentation of the "1812" Overture, which includes live cannons timed to the music.

Since his triumph at the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1998, Matsuev has collaborated with the world's greatest orchestras, appeared in numerous recitals and become laureate of the prestigious Shostakovich Prize in music and state prize of the Russian Federation in literature and arts.

Prior to the concert, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on July 29, Ravinia will host a special family space on the north lawn, where families can engage in activities that include music-related crafts, storytelling and an "instrument petting zoo" where kids can experience and play instruments.

Adults over 21 years of age can experience Ravinia's Wine Club, a partnership with Ravinia and Terlato Wines including formal wine tastings at 3:30 p.m. before the 5 p.m. concert. Pavilion packages include entry to the tasting and a reserved ticket for $80-$50, and entry to the tasting and a lawn ticket for $20.

Also on July 29, the festival will also host its second annual informal free teen night pre-concert get together for high school students from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. "Cannon Ball 2012" will include free snacks, refreshments and activities in the Santa Fe Tent.

This event is part of Ravinia's summer-long high school student CSO concert attendance contest through which students not only can gain free lawn access to any CSO concert throughout the season by showing their school I.D. at the box office, but also win points for their high school. At the end of the summer, Ravinia will tally the points, and the school that accumulates the most points will win a $5,000 grant for its music programs from the Ravinia Associates. Students can win double points for their school on this special July 29 date. To RSVP for the pre-concert teen party, students can visit Ravinia.org and click on "Cannon Ball." Visit www.ravinia.org/ClassicalYouthInitiative.aspx for more information.

The CSO performs an orchestral showcase of favorites under the Maestro Conlon's baton at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 26. The concert will feature three pieces from Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette; the Overture to Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco; Dvorák's Slavonic Dance in E Minor, Op. 72 No. 2; Mendelssohn's The Hebrides ("Fingal's Cave"); and the Overture to Rossini's Guillaume Tell.

Soloists from the CSO appear in an intimate Martin Theatre concert at 8 p.m. on Monday, July 23, led by Conlon and featuring soprano Rachel Schutz in her Ravinia debut. This concert includes Bach's "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWC 1051; Zemlinsky's Maiblumen blüten überall; and Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20. Welsh-born Schutz made her orchestral debut in 2006 with the Boston Pops Orchestra and returned to tour with the orchestra in 2008. She has performed at Carnegie's Zankel Hall, the Ojai Festival, Stony Brook Opera and The New Opera Company and is a two-time Tanglewood Music Center fellow and Santa Fe Opera apprentice artist.

Violin virtuoso Joshua Bell returns to perform with the CSO at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25. The program will include the Overture to Barber's The School for Scandal, Op. 5, and Violin Concerto Op. 14; Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 70; and Ravel's Tzigane Concert Rhapsody. Bell, who debuted with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 14, is a Grammy Award-winner and a Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame inductee.

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