The Ravinia Music Festival
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The Ravinia Music Festival

Started in 1904, the Ravinia Festival is a musical event which takes place each summer in Chicago.

The Ravinia Festival is an annual summer music festival that takes place in Chicago, Illinois. Started in 1904, artists from various genres of music, including jazz, classical and musical theatre, perform at the festival. The oldest outdoor music festival in North America, the event attracts over half a million people each year.

History

Ravinia was started as an amusement park as a way to attract people to the struggling Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Railroad. At the time, an electric fountain, baseball park and casino buillding, housing a dance floor and dining room were located in the park. There was also the Ravinia Theatre which is still in existence. Although the railroad went into receivership, the festival continued for decades during which classical music and later opera was performed. Some of the Greg singers of the day including Tito Schipa and Edward Johnson sang at Ravinia.

The Great Depression ended performances at Ravinia for five years. They were restarted though, by local businessmen who created the Ravinia Festival Association. The mission of the association was to present high quality music at a low price. By 1936, the festival was the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1954, One of the businessmen who helped to finance the festival, gave Ravinia 36 acres of park.

In 1964, the first music director of the festival was Seiji Ozawa. In 1968, Edward Gordon became the executive director, expanding the festival by adding the Stearns Music Institute and a professional studies area. The festival has continued to expand. Former executive director, Zarin Mehta, started the jazz festival portion of Ravinia, with Ramsey Lewis as artistic director.

Artists

Many famous artists have performed at the festivel. A sml sampling of these performers include Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Jose Greco, Frank Zappa, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Luciano Pavarotti, Isaac Stern, Jascha Heifetz, John Houseman, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, among others.

Outreach

In an effort to encourage a love of fine music, the Ravinia Festival has a number of outreach iniatives such as the Ravinia Lawndale Community Partnership. residents of the Lawndale neighborhood can take lessons at the Ravinia Community Music Conservatiry. the jazz scholars program is an initiative in which talented high school students are given instruction through master classes, ensembles and personal instruction. Noted jazz musicians in Chicago assist in teaching and advising the students. Additionally, Ravinia provides outreach to elementary schools and the community of Chicago in an effort to help encourage a love of classical music and the benefits of learning music.

References:

Http://www.ravinia.org

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Comments (1)

This is in my area, but I've never been to it. It sounds great!

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