Let the Free Music Begin

The Grant Park Music Festival opens its gala season; expect much fanfare

Every summer, thousands of music aficionados gather together in Millennium Park to enjoy free classical concerts under the stars. The Grant Park Music Festival has been creating those magical moments for 75 years now, from the event's beginnings in Grant Park in the 1930s to the modern-day manifestation at the futuristic Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the gorgeous surroundings of Millennium Park.

The gala 75th season will get underway at 6:30PM on Wednesday, June 10. The opening night concert will feature  principal conductor Carlos Kalmar leading the Grant Park Orchestra and world-renowned pianist Stephen Hough through Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1," Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and what's sure to be a rousing rendition of Key's "Star Spangled Banner." In this ultra egalatarian series, you can even attend two open rehearsals before the opening night show -- on Tuesday, June 9 and Wednesday, June 10, both at 11AM.

The concert calendar continues through the weekend with a performance by the Grant Park Chorus, directed by Christopher Bell, at 5:30PM on Friday, June 12. The chorus will be joined by the Grant Park Orchestra, along with tenor John Horton Murray, bass Denis Sedov and the Chicago Children's Chorus to perform Bernstein's "On the Waterfront: Symphonic Suite," Kernis' "Too Hot Toccata" and Shostakovich's "Song of the Forests, op. 81."

On Saturday, June 13, the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus will play a special engagement at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The concert, which will begin at 7:30PM, will include "Too Hot Toccata," "On the Waterfront: Symphonic Suite" and "Pictures at an Exhibition."

The Grant Park Music Festival will continue through Aug. 15, with performances every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (aside from the week of July 4th, when there will be concerts on Tuesday, June 30, the gala 75th season concert on Wednesday, July 1, Thursday, July 2 and an Independence Day celebration on Saturday, July 4). Seating for the shows are first come, first served for both the pavilion and the surrounding lawn. Season memberships are available, starting at $80 for a specific night of the week or $135 for all 31 concerts in the series.

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