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LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO
The season starts with Chicago Shakespeare Theater founder Barbara Gaines’s smoldering new production of Verdi’s Macbeth (October 1–30), starring baritone Thomas Hampson in his signature role as the unhinged Scottish tyrant. Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion inspired the all-steel stage. Plus: pyrotechnics. In Gilbert and Sullivan’s flirty comedy The Mikado (December 6–January 21), Mark Thompson’s slick, modern set design offsets the goofy banter of Yum-Yum (soprano Andriana Chuchman) and Pooh-Bah (Brit baritone Andrew Shore); CST’s Gary Griffin is at the helm. Civic Opera House (20 N Wacker Dr, 312-332-2244). $33–$207.
MUSIC INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO September 12, October 10, November 14
Bottles will pop as the company celebrates its 80th anniversary in Evanston’s gorgeous Nichols Concert Hall. Quintet Attacca (with pianist Mark George) gets the party rolling with selections by Piazzolla, D’Rivera, and Ewazen (September 12). The ten-member Orquestra de Samba offers an electrifying tribute to Heitor Villa-Lobos (October 10), while local gem the Lincoln Trio celebrates women composers, with excellent works by Jennifer Higdon, Lera Auerbach, Augusta Read Thomas and Stacy Garrop (November 14). Music Institute of Chicago (1490 Chicago Ave, Evanston, 847-905-1500). $10–$25.
CHICAGO SINFONIETTA October 3, 4
Wonderful wand-waver maestro Paul Freeman says good-bye as music director; in 2011, the 74-year-old will pass his baton to Taiwan-born conductor Mei-Ann Chen. Catch Freeman and guest conductor Harvey Felder in the season’s opening concert, as the orchestra salutes the laborers of the world with a special gig titled “For the Common Man.” The program aptly includes Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” plus an original orchestral composition by Sinfonietta principal violist Reneé Baker that throws in beats by awesome Japanese taiko drummers. October 3: Lund Auditorium (7900 W Division St, River Forest, 708-488-5000). October 4: Symphony Center (220 S Michigan Ave, 312-294-3333). $26–$96.
THIRD COAST PERCUSSION September 18
The music of John Cage is both essential in the development of contemporary music…and nearly impossible to listen to on CD. So these mallet-wielders’ performance of the New Yorker’s first, second and third “Constructions” is a clash-bangy can’t-miss. Meritt School of Music, Gottlieb Hall (38 South Peoria Street, 312-786-9428). $TBA.
MUSICNOW October 4
Laptops have invaded the Chicago Symphony! CSO composers-in-residence Mason Bates and Anna Clyne will be unleashed on the MusicNow audience in a spectacular program including Clyne’s metallically-charged “Steelworks” and Bates’ conversation of organ and electronics, “Digital Loom,” as well as Marcos Balter’s atmospherically transportive “Vision Mantra.” Harris Theater (205 East Randolph Street, 312-334-7777). $20
DAL NIENTE October 13
Any music fans looking for an intro to the young American new-music scene absolutely must check out ensemble dal niente’s season opener, How About Now? The sonic menagerie features exhilarating scores by Nico Muhly, Eliza Brown, Anthony Cheung, a new work by Chicagoan Marcos Balter and the North American premier of Michel van der Aa’s “Rekindle.” Mayne Stage (1328 Morse Ave, 773-381-4554). $TBA.
ROBERT MCDUFFIE AND THE VENICE BAROQUE ORCHESTRA October 24
Fans of Philip Glass—and you are legion—will be ecstatic to witness the Chicago premier of the minimalist’s “Violin Concerto No. 2 for Violin & Orchestra: The American Four Seasons,” inspired by Vivaldi’s ubiquitous masterpiece (also on the program) and commissioned by violinist Robert McDuffie in what is likely to be not only a highlight of the fall, but the entire season. Harris Theater (205 East Randolph Street, 312-334-7777). $45–$75
INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE October 26
Following the kidnapping and murder of new music champion Omar Hernández-Hidalgo in his hometown of Tijuana this year, ICE memorializes the young violist with a program of world premiere music (dubbed La Frontera) by his Mexican colleagues and friends in what is sure to be an emotionally-fraught performance. Museum of Contemporary Photography (600 S. Michigan Avenue, 312-663-5554). $TBA.