It’s summer in Chicago! And that also means the return of festival season, hanging out lakeside, and plenty of new ways to get your classical music fix. Tonight, Rush Hour Concerts kicks off its summer season with an appearance by the CSO’s Brass Quintet. Rush Hour has a packed series this year featuring a wide variety of classical music, in their familiar and easy format: a little after work snack and a great concert that will fit anyone’s busy schedule (just 30 minutes!) at St. James Cathedral (Wabash and Huron). I had a chance to chat with Kelly Jocius, Rush Hour’s executive director and Deborah Sobol, the creative director, about this year’s lineup, and the annual “Make Music Chicago” where music events are taking place all over the city. For concert lineups and details visit www.rushhour.org.
Where did the idea for Rush Hour Concerts come from?
Deborah Sobol: I was eager to create a format for offering great classical music in ways that were relevant to the demands of contemporary lifestyles. Additionally, I wanted to give people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to "jump into" an hour of refreshment and inspiration at the end of the workday.
What can people look forward to in this year’s concert series?
DS: Our 13th concert series will offer music spanning four centuries—from the Renaissance to 2011—with over 90 internationally recognized string, woodwind, brass, piano and vocal artists.
Kelly Jocius: The Consular Collaboration Program will continue in 2012 as we present “Lyric Shorts”— preview concerts of Don Pasquale and Hansel and Gretel – with singers from the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago; CSO principal trumpet Chris Martin curates two brass programs by the CSO Brass Quintet and Axiom Brass that will collectively span seven centuries; Männerstimmen Basel (The Men’s Choir of Basel) – prizewinners in the International Choral Competition in Cork, Ireland – make their Rush Hour debut; and, the Poetry Foundation will again collaborate on a program of spoken word and music.
For Make Music Chicago, you have concerts literally all over the city all day. What are some of the exciting things happening that people will definitely want to check out?
DS: Definitely look for “Sousapalooza” at noon on Daley Plaza, Barristers Big Band, “Swell” at and with the Oak Street Beach, “Peter and the Wolf” at Lincoln Park Zoo, "Vexations" for percussion from 6 a.m. to midnight at the New Music School, the H2 Orchestra at Navy Pier, “Where in the World is Winston Choi and Bach's Art of the Fugue” (all over the city!) All details are at makemusicchicago.com.
What is your favorite part about being a part of Rush Hour Concerts?
DS: I love creating and continually offering programs to the broadest Chicago demographic which are continually relevant to the demands of contemporary lifestyles and offer our fellow citizens the opportunity to "get up to the 35,000 foot level" regularly – all for free – through great, live, music.
KJ: The most exciting part about being a part of Rush Hour is the opportunity to reach new listeners through the innovative format of the Summer Series concerts and the all-inclusiveness of Make Music Chicago. Because so much thought has been put into making these performances accessible for diverse audiences, we are able to appeal to Chicagoans of all backgrounds and witness how attending these concerts enriches their lives.