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Grant Park Music Festival 2018 Season Begins June 13

Grant Park Music Festival 2018 Season Begins June 13

Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Carlos Kalmar today announced a rich array of programming for the Festival's 2018 season, including a large-scale world premiere commission for orchestra and chorus by the Latvian composer, ?riks Ešenvalds. Kalmar will lead the Grant Park Orchestra, along with Chorus Director Christopher Bell and the Grant Park Chorus, in a ten-week season, taking place from June 13-August 18 at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion and other venues throughout the city.

All concerts are free and most will take place on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. (a complete schedule follows and can be found at

The Grant Park Music Festival is presented by the Grant Park Orchestral Association with key support from the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.


The world premiere of a large-scale work for orchestra and chorus by Latvian composer ?riks Ešenvalds, commissioned by the Grant Park Music Festival and debuting on opening night of the 2018 annual conference of Chorus America, a national advocacy group for the choral music field, co-hosted by the Festival and the Chicago Children's Choir. In conjunction with the premiere, Mr. Ešenvalds will hold a composer residency in Chicago, with artistic development activities for young artists, and educational programs for the general public. (June 20 and 22; Carlos Kalmar conducts).

Masterworks including Mozart's Violin Concerto with William Hagen, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 with Natasha Paremski, Dvo?ák's Cello Concerto with Johannes Moser, Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Kirill Gerstein, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, Beethoven's Symphony No. 2, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy, and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

As part of the City of Chicago's Year of Creative Youth, the Festival will shine a spotlight on some of its gifted young guest artists: 16 year old pianist Emily Bear who will perform Rhapsody in Blue, 22 year old pianist George Li performing Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, 24 year old violinist William Hagen, and 25 year old Spanish cellist Pablo Ferrández who will play Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante; along with members from Anima - Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus, joining the Grant Park Chorus in Carmina Burana. The Festival will also highlight its Young Artists Showcase series, where students from local music schools and summer music programs perform at the Pavilion on Friday nights before the Grant Park Orchestra takes the stage.

The Festival will celebrate the 80th birthday of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom. Dennis Russell Davies, a frequent collaborator of the composer, will lead the Grant Park Orchestra in Bolcom's Symphony No. 4 featuring acclaimed mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor in her Festival debut, along with Symphony No. 5: Machine. Throughout the week, Mr. Bolcom will participate in pre-concert lectures, open rehearsals and coaching for Project Inclusion ensembles. (July 6 and 7).

Festival premieres include Sean Shepherd's Magiya, Carl Nielsen's Concerto for Flute, Serge Prokofiev's Sinfonia concertante, Detlev Glanert's Frenesia, Andrew Norman's Switch, John Vincent's Symphony in D Major, Zoltán Kodály's Summer Evening, Walter Piston's Symphony No. 6, Albert Roussel's Festin de l'araignee, Antonin Dvo?ák's Othello Overture and Richard Strauss' Macbeth.

The return of rarely performed works including William Walton's choral masterpiece Belshazzar's Feast, Charles Tomlinson Griffes' Poem for Flute and Orchestra, Gian Carlo Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief, Antonin Dvo?ák's Water Goblin, Serge Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante, and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 4.

The Festival debuts of violinists William Hagen and Paul Huang; cellists Johannes Moser and Pablo Ferrández; pianists Emily Bear and George Li; and flutist Adam Walker. The season will also feature the debuts of guest conductors Roderick Cox (Assistant Conductor, Minnesota Orchestra and former Chicago Sinfonietta Project Inclusion conductor), David Danzmayr (former Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra music director), Dennis Russell Davies (Chief Conductor, Bruckner Orchestra and Opera Linz, Austria and Chief Conductor, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Switzerland), Vinay Parameswaran (Assistant Conductor, Cleveland Orchestra) and Markus Stenz (Principal Guest Conductor, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra).

Return engagements by pianists Kirill Gerstein and Natasha Paremski and percussionist Colin Currie. Returning conductors include Gemma New, on the podium for Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, and Kevin Stites, leading an evening of Broadway favorites by librettist-lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe.

Renowned vocalists to include John Brancy, baritone; Janai Brugger, soprano; Claire de Sevigne, soprano; Michael Maniaci, counter tenor; Kelley O'Connor, mezzo-soprano; Lauren Segal, mezzo-soprano; Michael Sumuel, bass; Brendan Tuohy, tenor; along with Broadway vocalists Sierra Boggess, Ryan Silverman and Ben Crawford; artists of the Lyric Opera's Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center and members of the Anima - Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus.


The Grant Park Music Festival continues its commitment to Festival Connect, its comprehensive initiative aimed to increase music education and engagement opportunities for audiences of all ages. Working with the Chicago Park District and Mayor Emanuel's Night Out in the Parks program, Festival Connect will continue to focus on the neighborhoods with performances by the Grant Park Orchestra, the Grant Park Chorus, Project Inclusion and the Apprentice Chorale.

PROJECT INCLUSION: This successful professional development program guides young musicians from diverse backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the symphonic orchestral and choral field towards successful careers in music, with a goal of increasing diversity among orchestral ensembles. Project Inclusion, a partnership with the Chicago Sinfonietta, includes:

The Project Inclusion String Fellowship program, composed of four string players who rehearse and perform with the Grant Park Orchestra, perform as a chamber ensemble, receive mentoring from Carlos Kalmar, guest artists and other members of the orchestra, and serve as teaching artists for the Festival's Classical Campers program.

Four Project Inclusion Vocal Fellows, who work with Chorus Director Christopher Bell, rehearse and perform with the Grant Park Chorus, receive mentoring from artistic leadership, guest artists and Chorus members, and perform with the Project Inclusion String Fellows and Apprentice Chorale in Night Out in the Parks programs.

FESTIVAL APPRENTICE CHORALE: Led by Christopher Bell, the Apprentice Chorale provides advanced training and performance opportunities for pre-professional vocal students, offering them the opportunity to perform alongside the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus at the Pritzker Pavilion, and at locations throughout the city with the Project Inclusion ensemble. The Apprentice Chorale is a collaboration with DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

GRANT PARK ORCHESTRA AND GRANT PARK CHORUS: Members of the Grant Park Orchestra will bring Vivaldi's The Four Seasons to the South Shore Cultural Center and Columbus Park Refectory. Christopher Bell and the Grant Park Chorus will return to those two venues for their annual a cappella concert. All are a part of Mayor Emanuel's Night Out in the Parks program.

CLASSICAL CAMPERS: The Festival hosts Classical Campers, its popular half-day music immersion program for children ages 6-12, in collaboration with the Chicago Park District. Throughout the season, over 2,000 students from more than 30 different Chicago neighborhoods will learn about the instruments and sections of the orchestra with Festival educators and Project Inclusion fellows, take part in hands-on musical activities, and conclude their day with a visit to a Festival rehearsal and talkback with Grant Park Orchestra members. Classical Campers often provides children with their first exposure to a live classical music performance.

YOUNG ARTISTS SHOWCASE: Every Friday at 5:30 p.m. before the Grant Park Orchestra takes the stage, audiences are treated to concerts by students from local music schools and summer music programs at the front of the Great Lawn at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

OPEN LUNCHTIME REHEARSALS: Orchestra and chorus rehearsals take place June 12-August 17, Tuesdays through Fridays typically between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Audiences are welcome to sit in the Pavilion Seating Bowl during rehearsals and Festival docents will talk about the week's concerts during rehearsal breaks.

BROADCAST: Many of this summer's concerts will be broadcast on 98.7WFMT, Chicago's classical and fine arts radio station, and also online at


Memberships to the Grant Park Music Festival 2018 season are available beginning January 9 and include reserved access for every Festival concert, along with exclusive benefits like access to concert receptions, and parking and dining discounts. The Festival also offers packages with nine and 13 concerts that include reserved seats with complimentary exchange privileges, as well as Choose Your Own four, eight or 12 concert series packages. Memberships begin at $96.

In addition, every Grant Park Music Festival concert has seats that are free and open to the public. Seats in the Seating Bowl and on the Great Lawn are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Priority access to reserved seats in the Pavilion is available for groups of ten or more. Exclusive seating on the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the Choral Balcony is available for groups of 50 or more. Group seating begins at $15 per person.

For information about memberships and groups or to learn more about the Grant Park Music Festival, visit or call 312.742.7647. For additional information, visit the Grant Park Music Festival Facebook page or follow the Festival on Twitter @gpmf.


For more than 80 years, the Grant Park Music Festival has been Chicago's summer musical sensation, demonstrating that classical music, performed by a world-class orchestra and chorus can have a transformative impact on the city. Showcased in the city's most spectacular setting, the Festival continues to be the summer gathering place for all of Chicago. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is the official home of the Grant Park Music Festival, with free seats available for every concert.

The Grant Park Music Festival is led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Carlos Kalmar, along with Grant Park Chorus Director Christopher Bell, Grant Park Orchestral Association President and CEO Paul Winberg, and Board Chair Stephen Smith.

The Grant Park Music Festival gratefully acknowledges the generous support from its 2018 sponsors: BMO Harris Bank; Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park; AbelsonTaylor and ComEd; with additional support from Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Walter E. Heller Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

The Grant Park Music Festival is a key partner in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Night out in the Parks program. Night Out in the Parks is an initiative featuring more than 2,000 cultural activities annually in Chicago Park District locations citywide in support of the City of Chicago's Cultural Plan.

CARLOS KALMAR: Carlos Kalmar has been Principal Conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival since 2000, and in 2011 was named Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Under Kalmar's leadership, the Festival has become one of the world's preeminent classical music festivals, and he has played a central role in shaping its artistic vision.

In addition to his role at the Grant Park Music Festival, Carlos Kalmar is the Music Director of the Oregon Symphony, a position he has held since 2003. He was the Principal Conductor of the Orquestra Sinfónica de Radio Televisión Española in Madrid and has served in artistic leadership roles for the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera House and Philharmonic Orchestra in Dessau, Germany and the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Vienna, while also traveling the world as a guest conductor appearing with some of the world's most important orchestras. Kalmar has made six recordings with the Grant Park Orchestra.

CHRISTOPHER BELL: Christopher Bell has served as Chorus Director of the Grant Park Chorus since 2002. He oversees a chorus of more than 100 singers, along with the Apprentice Chorale made up of young singers from local universities. Bell prepares all of the Festival's choral programs, and conducts the orchestra and chorus for several concerts.

During his tenure, he and the chorus have been recipients of the coveted Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence given by Chorus America, as well as glowing reviews from both critics and audiences alike. In 2013, Bell won the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.

In addition to his work with the Festival, Christopher Bell is the Artistic Director of The Washington Chorus and Chorus Master of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus. Largely responsible for the formation of the National Youth Choir of Scotland in 1996, he has been its Artistic Director ever since. Bell was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the Royal Conservatoire in Scotland in 2012, in recognition of his contribution to performing arts in Scotland. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music from the University of Aberdeen.

MILLENNIUM PARK: Millennium Park is Chicago's town square, the #1 attraction in the Midwest and among the Top 10 most-visited sites in the U.S. It is also the anchor of an urban cultural campus (Millennium Park Campus) that includes the Chicago Cultural Center, Maggie Daley Park and The Art Institute of Chicago. Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue, bordered by Randolph St. to the north, Columbus Dr. to the east and Monroe St. to the south. The Park is open 6am-11pm daily. For the latest news and events, download the Millennium Park app, visit, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @Millennium_Park.

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