music, culture, parks
One evening last summer my husband and I wandered over to Millenium Park to view Terry Evans' photographs when suddenly we heard a deep bass voice singing from the bandshell. We knew there was no concert that evening but wandered over to discover Samuel Ramey, the world famous opera star rehearsing for one, wearing blue jeans, stopping and having casual conversations with staff, correcting things, and proceeding on. Susanne Mentzer, the mezzo soprano joined him and transformed herself magically from a normal-looking person in street clothes into the same with an extraordinary voice. It was a great behind the scenes experience. There were just a few people in the audience which added to our sense of privilege.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, and to many others, The Grant Park Orchestra holds regularly scheduled open rehearsals which are free and open to the public, rain or shine. If you want to hear a guest artist for an upcoming concert in a totally different atmosphere you should try these. Of course the same is true with the orchestral presentations.
If you want to hear a guest artist in rehearsal or a final rehearsal prior to a concert the best time to visit is the day prior to the concert itself. For example if you attend the rehearsal on Thursday, June 22 from 11AM-1:30PM it will be in preparation for the two concerts, A Tibetan Mozart Requiem, to be given Friday June 23 at 6:30PM and Saturday June 24 at 7:30PM. (See photo of the monks of Tibet's Drepung Loseling Monastery in photo at right.) The Requiem is preceded by Mozart's Piano Concerto #25 with Robert Levin at the piano.
Also before the regular performance itself, on specified Saturdays you may join Artistic and General Director James W. Palermo for a 45 minute backstage discussion which includes guest artists. On Saturday June 24, for example the discussion begins at 6:30PM. It is held backstage at the Pritzker Pavilion Choral Hall. Enter from the walkway just east of the Pavilion. Coffee is served. On July 1 and 8 the discussion begins at 8PM; on July 22 and August 19 it begins at 6:30PM.
For a complete rehearsal schedule access www.grantparkmusicfestival.com. You'll find all kinds of info re the regular schedule as well. You may be one of a few or many in the audience but it's great fun to peek behind the scenes like this. Everything, of course takes place in the Gehry bandshell at the foot of Washington St. at Michigan Av.