Annual Gala Benefit Evening Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of George Gershwin’s Only Festival Performance and Benefits Ravinia’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY Education Programs




Ravinia Music Director James Conlon leads the

Chicago Symphony Orchestra in four performances including an all Rachmaninoff evening, Gershwin Gala, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 and Beethoven’s Octet in E-flat Major

Actor Michael York and pianist André Watts present Lisztian Loves, a theatrical and musical portrait of Franz Liszt

Piano and Strings musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute perform Brahms’s Sextet No. 1 in recital

Five For Fighting and Vanessa Carlton make their Ravinia debuts on a double bill on July 22

 Ravinia Festival’s Gala Benefit Evening will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s annual summer residency at Ravinia as well as legendary American composer George Gershwin with a program including his most beloved music at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. The repertoire being performed this evening is based upon the all-Gershwin program that the composer himself performed at his one and only appearance at Ravinia Festival,which in 1936 had audiences climbing into the trees to catch a glimpse of the musical genius. Ravinia Festival Music Director James Conlon will lead the CSO in the concert with no intermission, which features renowned vocalists Sylvia McNair, Kelli O’Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell and pianist Kevin Cole. The program includes Cuban Overture, selections from Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue and “Gershwin around the Piano,” song selections to be announced from the stage. Hosted by the Ravinia Women’s Board, the annual Gala is the only performance fundraiser benefiting the not-for-profit festival’s mission, especially its efforts to bring music back to the schools through its REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs. To purchase tickets to the benefit dinner, please call 847-266-5045 or contact Concert-only tickets are available, and pavilion and lawn audience members who do not purchase tickets to the Gala dinner are welcome to enjoy the evening on the lawn following the concert.

At 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, Conlon leads the CSO in an all-Rachmaninoff program including The Bells, Vesna (“Spring”) Cantata and Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini featuring the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, tenor Rodrick Dixon, and soprano Kara Shay Thomson and baritone Vasily Ladyuk, both making their festival debuts. The performance also features pianist Alexander Romanovsky, first-prize winner of the Busoni Competition in Italy when he was only 17 years old, making his Ravinia debut.

In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the CSO’s annual summer residency, Ravinia showcases the orchestra’s esteemed concertmaster Robert Chen at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 24. The CSO performance led by Conlon features Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major (“Eroica”). After winning first prize in the Hannover International Violin Competition, Chen recorded Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto for Berlin Klassics label. He is the recipient of the American Heritage Award from the American Immigration Law Foundation and the Arts and Science Achievement Award from the Taiwanese-American Foundation. Prior to the concert, from

3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., kids can enjoy Ravinia’s Family Space, an area filled with music-related activities, storytelling and an “instrument petting zoo” where kids can try out and play musical instruments on the north lawn. 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 p.m. before the 5 p.m. concert. A special $40 package includes entry to the tasting and a pavilion ticket.

Ravinia presents an evening featuring the staggering virtuosity of the wind soloists from the CSO led by Conlon in a Martin Theatre recital at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19. This performance includes Beethoven’s Octet in E-flat Major, Janáček’s Mladi (“Youth”), Strauss’s Serenade in E-flat Major and Dvořák’s Serenade in D Minor. This concert also features a special ticket and dining package for $70.

Ravinia’s 2011 season celebrates the bicentennial of composer Franz Liszt in many ways, including the production Lisztian Loves: A Theatrical & Musical Portrait of Franz Liszt written by Harry Clark. This 8 p.m. Martin Theatre show on Wednesday, July 20, which includes the rarely heard melodrama The Sad Monk features famed actor Michael York as Franz Liszt and piano virtuoso André Watts. Shakespeare an extraordinaire, celebrated actor and author York has over 46 years of credentials from films, television series, Broadway and regional theater as well as audio books from Logan’s Run to The Three Musketeers, The Simpsons, Curb Your Enthusiasm and, most recently, a portrayal of King Arthur in Camelot. Watts began his career with Bernstein’s “Young People’s Concerts” with the New York Philharmonic and ever since has been a regular guest at major summer music festivals, which lead to his 2006 Hollywood Bowl of Fame induction, 50 years after his debut performances.

Making their Ravinia debuts are pianists/singer/songwriters Five For Fighting and Vanessa Carlton on a double bill at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22. Under the band name Five For Fighting, singer/songwriter John Ondrasik has recorded four hit albums, producing top singles as “Superman,” “100 Years” and “World.” Carlton’s platinum-selling, Grammy®-nominated album Be Not Nobody featured the hit single “A Thousand Miles,”  which was featured in Billboard’s Hot 100 and went on to become the sixth most-played song of the year in 2002.

Ravinia’s summer music conservatory, the Steans Music Institute, brings together talented young musicians from around the world to make music coached by an internationally renowned faculty. Piano and strings artists will present a chamber music concert at 8 p.m. on Monday, July 18, in Bennett Gordon Hall. This performance will include Brahms’s Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 18, and is only $10 for a reserved seat. There will be no lawn sales at this concert. At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, pianist Leon Fleisher presents a free master class featuring Steans musicians in Bennett Gordon Hall.  Prior to the CSO concerts at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, and at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, piano and strings musicians will appear in preview concerts in Bennett Gordon Hall. These performances are free with a paid entry for the mainstage show on those nights. The musicians will also present a postlude performance following the CSO Gala concert on Saturday, July 23, which is also free with a paid entry for the mainstage show.
Ravinia Festival is located at Lake Cook and Green Bay roads in Highland Park, IL. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Ravinia Box Office at 847-266-5100. All summer long Ravinia will accept donations of non-perishable food and toiletry items for local food depositories; donations can be dropped off in the plaza of the main entrance of the park. Ravinia welcomes all festival fans to follow, connect and interact online at, (search Ravinia Festival) and Ravinia Festival is a not-for-profit organization.

Monday, July 18, 8 p.m. – Bennett Gordon Hall

Piano and Strings Artists from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute

Program to include:

Brahms:                       Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 18

Tickets: $10/No lawn sales /Park opens at 6 p.m.


Tuesday, July 19, 8 p.m. – Martin Theatre

James Conlon, Conductor

Soloists from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven:      Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 103

Janáček:          Mladi, (“Youth”) *

Strauss:            Serenade in E-Flat Major, Op. 7

Dvořák            :           Serenade in D Minor, Op. 44

Program Sponsor: Diana and Bruce Rauner

Tickets: $60-$40/Lawn $10/Ticket & dining package $70/Park opens at 5 p.m.


Wednesday, July 20, 2 p.m. – Bennett Gordon Hall

Steans Music Institute Master Class

Leon Fleisher, Piano

Admission: FREE


Wednesday, July 20, 8 p.m. – Martin Theatre

            Liszt 200

            Lisztian Loves: A Theatrical & Musical Portrait of Franz Liszt Written by Harry Clark

André Watts, Piano

Michael York, Franz Liszt

Program includes The Sad Monk melodrama

Tickets: $65/Lawn $10/ Park opens at 5 p.m.


Thursday, July 21, 5:45 p.m. – Bennett Gordon Hall

Piano and Strings Preview Concert

Artists from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute

Admission: FREE with paid ticket for evening concert

Thursday, July 21, 8 p.m. – Pavilion

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

James Conlon, Conductor

Milwaukee Symphony Chorus

Alexander Romanovsky, Piano +

Kara Shay Thomson, Soprano ~+

Rodrick Dixon, Tenor ~

Vasily Ladyuk, Baritone ~ ^ +

Rachmaninoff:                        The Bells, Op. 35 ~ *

Vesna (“Spring”) Cantata, Op. 20 ^ *

Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini in A Minor, Op. 43

With support of Sergey Rachmaninoff Foundation and Yoko Nagae Ceschina

Tickets: $60-$40/Lawn $10/Park opens at 5 p.m.


Friday, July 22, 7:30 p.m. – Pavilion

Five For Fighting +

Vanessa Carlton +

Program Sponsor: Deloitte LLP

Media Support: WTMX and Chicago magazine

Tickets: $45/Lawn $22**/Park opens at 5 p.m.


Saturday, July 23, 4:45 p.m. – Bennett Gordon Hall

Piano and Strings Preview Concert

Artists from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute

Admission: FREE with paid ticket for evening concert


Saturday, July 23, 7 p.m. – Pavilion

            Gala Benefit Evening Benefiting Ravinia’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY Education Programs

            All Gershwin Evening Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of His Only Ravinia Performance 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

James Conlon, Conductor

Sylvia McNair, Vocalist

Kelli O’Hara, Vocalist

Brian Stokes Mitchell, Vocalist

Kevin Cole, Piano

Smith:                          The Star-Spangled Banner

Gershwin:                    Cuban Overture

“Summertime” from Porgy and Bess

“It Ain’t Necessarily So” from Porgy and Bess

                                                “A Woman Is a Sometime Thing” from Porgy and Bess

                                                “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” from Porgy and Bess

                                                An American in Paris

                                                “Gershwin around the Piano”

(song selections to be announced from the stage)

Rhapsody in Blue

Cocktail Reception Sponsor: Harris Bank

Concert Sponsor: Foley & Lardner LLP

Dinner Sponsor: Aon Corporation

Tickets: $100-$70/Lawn $15/Park opens at 4 p.m./The concert will have no intermission

Benefit Tickets: $750, for more information on the benefit dinner, contact

Saturday, July 23, Postlude – Bennett Gordon Hall

Piano and Strings Postlude Concert

Artists from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute

Admission: FREE with paid ticket for evening concert


Sunday, July 24, 5 p.m. – Pavilion

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

James Conlon, Conductor

Robert Chen, Violin

Brahms:                       Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77

Beethoven:                  Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (“Eroica”)

Featured Sponsor: Negaunee Foundation

Ravinia Wine Club Sponsor: Terlato Wines International

3-4:45 p.m. Family Space on the north lawn

(music-related crafts, storytelling, and “instrument petting zoo”)

3:30 p.m. Ravinia Wine Club, Ticket & club package $40

Tickets: $25/Lawn $10/Ticket & dining package $45/Park opens at 3 p.m.

Repertoire being performed at Ravinia for the first time is marked with an asterisk (*). Artists making their Ravinia debut are marked with a plus sign (+).  Lawn ticket prices are increased by $5 on the day of the show when marked by a double asterisk (**).

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