Knowing the score at Ravinia
One Score, One Chicago
Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” with the Chicago Symphony, John Axelrod, conductor
Ravinia Festival, Lake Cook and Green Bay roads, Highland Park
8 p.m. Tuesday, July 31
$40-$70; lawn $10; ticket and dining package $75
Tickets can be ordered at www.ravinia.org or (847) 266-5100
Updated: July 24, 2012 5:56PM
Imitation is the highest form of flattery. So when Welz Kauffman, CEO and President of the Ravinia Festival, read about the Chicago Public Library’s One Book/One Chicago, he saw it as news he could use.
He tore the page with the story out of a Chicago newspaper and send it interoffice to Christine Taylor, with a note reading “Wouldn’t this be a great idea?”
“There were several stories on both sides of the page,” said Taylor, who has been the festival’s director of education and community partnerships for a decade. “I looked at it and wondered which story he meant.”
Very soon Taylor and Kauffman were sitting in the office of Mary Dempsey, then head of the Chicago Public Library system. Kauffman asked if Dempsey would give her blessing to his idea of having a musical score that could be highlighted and shared throughout the public library system.
“We saw her at the Harold Washington Library,” Taylor recalled, “and Welz mentioned that since her One Book/One Chicago ran in the fall and spring, Ravinia’s emphasis on one piece of music could run in the summer.”
Dempsey liked the idea and in 2003 “Symphonie Fantastique” by Hector Berlioz was chosen. CDs of the score and booklets about the composer and the score were furnished to Chicago’s 79 branches. as well to more than 70 suburban library districts.
The piece was played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the pavilion that summer and talks were given at libraries in conjunction with the concert. Lawn tickets for the performance night were also made available to interested parties.
One critic famously called the emotion-packed work, composed in 1830, “movie music before there were movies.” Its success led to an ongoing series which included “Symphony from the New World” by Dvorak; Schumann’s “Scenes from Childhood;” Mahler’s Symphony No. 8; Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
This year the work is Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” which the Chicago Symphony will play accompanied by a film by Dr. Jose Francisco Salgardo, astronomer and visual artist from the Adler Planetarium.
Initially One Score/One Chicago operated only through the library system. During the last three years, however, the program has been extended to classrooms starting each August via Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play program.
“We are interested in forming community partnerships,” Taylor explained. “So in 2011, when we had Prokofiev’s ballet music for ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ we worked with Pierre Lockett from the Joffrey Ballet. He taught the children the simple march steps from the parade of the Montagues and Capulets.”
The year before the children in the program wrote lyrics for the “traveling music” which intersperses the art works in “Pictures at an Exposition.”
“They created a little welcome song,” Taylor said, obviously pleased. “When they came to the concert in the spring and heard that melody, they started singing the words they had written. It was quite a wonderful thing.
“That year our partner was the Art Institute of Chicago and their education department arranged customized tours for our children,” she added.
The piece of music for the 2013 One Score/One Chicago has not been announced, but it has been chosen and when school opens in late August relevant programs will begin.
Meanwhile, back on the lawn July 31, telescopes from the Adler will be pointed skyward. Perhaps no real planets will be sighted, but, barring cloud cover, the stars will be out, as they are night after summer night at the Ravinia Festival.