11 classical and new-music concerts to see in August
Frequency Series Presents: Black Angel Child and Jason Soliday Peter Margasak’s new series continues with multi-instrumentalist Michael Jantz’s Black Angel Child, a solo project that combines improv on electric guitar and other folk instruments. Local experimentalist Jason Soliday, a member of numerous local projects including Magic Missile and the Subtraction, heads up the evening with a solo set. Constellation. August 4 at 8:30pm. $5.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Itzhak Perlman and Alisa Weilerstein The legend and young buck buddy-up for a compelling performance. Perlman sets his violin aside (after a spotlight gig the day before) to conduct the CSO and Weilerstein in works by Brahms, Haydn and Tchaikovsky. An American cello star currently at the top of her game, 31-year-old Weilerstein was a recipient of a 2011 MacArthur "genius" grant. Her technical chops will no doubt shine through in Haydn's challenging Second Cello Concerto, a piece played only by the world's most skilled and nimble virtuosos. Ravinia Pavilion. August 8 at 8pm. $25–$50, lawn $10.
Earthen Grave with Rachel Barton Pine The flame haired fiddler may be in the middle of promoting a sugary new album of lullabies for babies, but that doesn’t stop Rachel Barton Pine from donning bondage corsets and studs for her side gig with the local thrash metallers Earthen Grave. Sure, the band treads on the fine side of cheesy, but watching Barton Pine shred on a rare, extended range Flying V is worth the ticket alone. Mayne Stage. August 10 at 8pm. $15–$20.
Grant Park Music Festival: Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto Ukrainian YouTube phenomenon Valentina Lisitsa returns to GPMF to play Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto. Lisitsa is a fierce interpreter of Rachmaninov in particular—her crystal clear articulation and dynamic performance style is bound to blow some minds. Shchedrin’s irreverent and zesty Naughty Limericks and Borodin’s nationalistic Symphony No. 2 round out the all-Russian program. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion. August 14 at 6:30pm. Free.
The Goat Rodeo Sessions: Yo-Yo Ma + Stuart Duncan + Edgar Meyer + Chris Thile Fusion has a somewhat deserved bad rap. A mish-mash of two musical styles tends to not really satisfy fans of either genre. Which is what makes this quartet such a wonderful, winning success. An inspired blend of the bluegrass and classical worlds, the four reknowned musicians (combined with vocalist Aoife O'Donovan) won the Best Folk Album Grammy for 2011's The Goat Rodeo Sessions. It's a quick-footed album of jumping Appalachia, with a welcome dose of grace not typically found in barnstormin' pickin'. Ravinia Pavilion. August 18 at 7pm. $80, lawn $30.
Rush Hour Concert Series: Third Coast Percussion The Rush Hour faves play Steve Reich’s striking Mallet Quartet and Arvo Pärt’s outstandingly beautiful Fratres. TCP member Owen Clay Condon’s own composition, the kaleidoscopic Fractalia, brings the evening to a close as all four members work their mallets in different registers of the marimba. St. James Cathedral. August 20 at 5:45pm. Free.
Verismo Opera Theater: Verdi's La Traviata Bradley Schuller’s adventurous opera company, Verismo, ends its hiatus by coming back with a bang. The team’s fun take on Verdi’s classic opera moves the action from 19th century Paris to Oak Park in 1915. Schuller doesn’t do things by halves: the sets, costumes and atmospheric elements will all reflect the signature style of architect and Oak Park native, Frank Lloyd Wright. The Arts Center of Oak Park. August 24, 30 at 7:30pm; September 1 at 4pm. $20–$40.
The Little Match Girl Passion Top vocalists from around the world gather together for the Ravinia premiere of David Lang’s moving masterpiece. The NYC-based composer’s reimagining of the classic children’s fairytale as a Passion parable won him the much-deserved Pulitzer for music in 2008. Local new-music trailblazers eighth blackbird will also perform a selection of contemporary works to mark the ensemble’s Ravinia debut. Martin Theatre, Ravinia. August 26 at 8pm. $35; lawn $10.
Rush Hour Concert Series: Spektral Quartet with MingHuan Xu and Winston Choi Chinese violinist MingHuan Xu and her husband, Canadian pianist Choi, join the Spektral gents for Ernest Chausson’s lively Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Op. 21. This expressive, rich slice of late French Romanticism bristles with drama and sparking rhythmic energy. St. James Cathedral. August 27 at 5:45pm. Free.
Dame Myra Hess Concert Series: Vassily Primakov The Russian pianist, 34, has scooped up an array of prodigious awards over the last ten years in addition to cultivating an impressive, vibrant discography of nineteen albums. He follows a performance at last month’s Woodstock Mozart Festival with a free concert of music by Schubert, Scriabin and Nikolai Medtner. Chicago Cultural Center. August 28 at 12:15pm. Free.
Loops and Variations: eighth blackbird with Glenn Kotche and Lesley Flanigan Wilco beat-keeper and composer Kotche has been popping up all over the new-music circuit via collaborations with Kronos Quartet, Silk Road Ensemble and Bang on a Can All-Stars to name a few. He partners with past collaborators 8bb for contemporary music acrobatics with an edge. NYC-based visionary composer Flanigan, who creates dark electronica using customized speaker synths, opens up the fest's final show of the summer. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion. August 28 at 6:30pm. Free.