Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival Kicks Off Today, July 4th


Summer in Chicago continues this month with the Grant Park Music Festival, led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Carlos Kalmar and the Grammy Award-nominaTed Grant Park Orchestra, along with Chorus Director Christopher Bell and the Grant Park Chorus in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park. The Festival will bring performances by outstanding guest conductors and guest artists from around the world, in a month of exciting programming that includes a world premiere commission, a live concert screening of Frozen Planet, the latest hit series from BBC/Discovery Channel, a tribute concert to Broadway and Hollywood legend, Frank Loesser and other Festival favorites.

All concerts are free and take place on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted).

Throughout the season, the Festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grant Park Chorus with a series of special events, including two world premiere commissions for orchestra and chorus and the release of the Grant Park Chorus' first-ever a cappella recording. Entitled Songs of Smaller Creatures and other American Choral Works, the CD features Christopher Bell leading the chorus in works by American composers Abbie Betinis, Paul Crabtree, David Del Tredici, Stacy Garrop, Ned Rorem, Lee Kesselman and Eric Whitacre. The recording will be available for sale at performances of the Grant Park Music Festival and through Cedille Records.

July begins with the annual Independence Day Celebration under the baton of Christopher Bell (today, July 4). Other highlights this month include a world premiere commission for the Grant Park Music Festival by American composer Sebastian Currier (July 6 and 7); the sequel to Planet Earth Live! called Frozen Planet in Concert, a live concert performance of the hugely successful BBC/Discovery Channel documentary led by guest conductor and composer George Fenton (July 11). The month continues with Perfectly Frank: From Broadway to Hollywood, celebrating the music of Frank Loesser, led by returning guest conductor Kevin Stites (July 13 and 14) and featuring an acclaimed quartet of Broadway vocalists-Marin Mazzie, Rebecca Luker, Jason Danieley and Howard McGillin.

The last two weeks of July include Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances with guest conductor Rossen Milanov and violinist Mikhail Simonyan both making their Festival debuts (July 18); Rossini's Stabat Mater with guest artists Jonita Lattimore, Jennifer Holloway, René Barbera and Ryan McKinny (July 20 and 21); Frozen in Time with guest conductor James Gaffigan making his Festival debut and guest soloist Martin Grubinger on percussion (July 25); and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with guest conductor Jun Märkl and pianist Pascal Rogé (July 27 and 28).

Memberships to the Grant Park Music Festival are still available. Most membership levels include specific reserved seats or general seating in a reserved section of the Pavilion for all Grant Park Music Festival concerts. Memberships with seating benefits begin at $140.

For more information about the Grant Park Music Festival including membership and group seating, visit or call 312.742.7638. For additional information, visit Grant Park Music Festival on Facebook or follow the Festival on Twitter @gpmf.


Independence Day Celebration
Wednesday, July 4, 6:30 p.m.
Grant Park Orchestra; Christopher Bell, Conductor; Paul Corona, Baritone

Bernstein, Candide: Overture
Gould, Amber Waves
Williams, Olympic Fanfare and Theme
Copland, Old American Songs
Grofé, Mississippi Suite
Gershwin, Girl Crazy: Overture
Wendell, Sea to Shining Sea
Tchaikovsky, 1812 Overture
Sousa, The Stars and Stripes Forever

A celebration of the United States' 236th birthday with beloved favorites-and a few surprises-by Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein, Sousa, and others who have created music that distills America's spirit and renews our pride.

Sleepers and Dreamers WORLD PREMIERE
Friday July 6, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday July 7, 7:30 p.m.
Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus; Carlos Kalmar, Conductor; Christopher Bell, Chorus Director; Levi Hernandez, Baritone

Brahms, Tragic Overture
Vaughan Williams, Five Mystical Songs
Strauss, Death and Transfiguration
Currier, Sleepers and Dreamers

The Festival continues its celebration of the Grant Park Chorus' 50th anniversary with a second world-premiere commission by Sebastian Currier that explores the remote and mysterious world of sleep.

Composer Sebastian Currier's (born in Providence, Rhode Island) recent works include Aftersong (2011) recorded by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and Time Machines (2011) premiered by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Alan Gilbert with Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist. His Microsymph, referred to by the composer as a large-scale symphony that has been squeezed into only ten minutes, was commissioned by the American Composer Orchestra and premiered at Carnegie Hall. The New York Times wrote of his work, "Currier's rich and imaginative music sets the right tone, with its fractured and dissonant baroque-like gestures leading off like highway exits into the void and hinting at distant reservoirs of emotion and yearning." He has received many prestigious awards including the Berlin Prize, Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has held residencies at the MacDowell and Yaddo colonies and has taught at Columbia University.

Frozen Planet in Concert NOTE START TIME
Wednesday, July 11, 8:30 p.m.
Grant Park Orchestra; George Fenton, Guest Conductor

Fenton, Frozen Planet

After thrilling audiences with Planet Earth Live! in 2010, composer-conductor George Fenton returns with Frozen Planet, the "ultimate polar expedition" that combines a specially cut feature film of this landmark BBC/Discovery Channel series with a live performance of the score.

Composer and conductor George Fenton (born in England) is one of the most renowned contemporary composers for film and television, receiving Academy Award nominations for: The Fisher King, Dangerous Liaisons, and Gandhi and was double-nominated for Cry Freedom for Original Score and Original Song. Other Scores include: The Madness of King George, Groundhog Day, Shadowlands, Ever After, Anna and the King, Stage Beauty, Mrs Henderson Presents, Hitch, and Fool's Gold as well as many films by director Ken Loach. His scores for TV series include The Jewel in the Crown, The Monocled Mutineer, The History Man, Shoestring, and Bergerac. He has written music for many of Alan Bennett's plays, films and monologues as well as popular signature tunes including the BBC News and Newsnight and the major documentary series: The Trials of Life, Life in the Freezer, Beyond the Clouds, Shanghai Vice, Life, The Blue Planet and Planet Earth for which he was awarded Soundtrack Composer of the Year at the Classical Brits in 2007. He previous conducted his score for Planet Earth with the Grant Park Music Festival in 2010.

Perfectly Frank: From Broadway To Hollywood NOTE START TIME
Friday, July 13, 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 8 p.m.
Grant Park Orchestra; Members of the Grant Park Chorus; Kevin Stites, Guest Conductor; Gary Griffin, Director; Broadway vocalists Rebecca Luker, Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley, Howard McGillin

Selection of works by Frank Loesser

This concert highlights the work of one of the great classic Broadway composers, Frank Loesser, whose much loved works include Guys and Dolls (1950), The Most Happy Fella (1956), and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (1961).

Guest conductor Kevin Stites (born in Chicago) returns to the Festival where previously he has conducted salutes to Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and Stephen Sondheim. Stites has worked as music supervisor, music director, conductor or arranger on an array of Broadway musicals including A Tale of Two Cities, The Color Purple, Les Misérables (2006 revival), Fiddler on the Roof (2004 revival), Nine, Oklahoma!, and Titanic. Stites' TV and film credits include Reefer Madness (Showtime), the NBC primetime variety special ROSIE LIVE!; The Late Show with David Letterman, Rosie, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Tony Awards.