By Megan Horst-Hatch

While Chicago might be known more for its famed strong winds, fiery history and sports teams of dubious distinction, it also has a vibrant classical music scene. From outside venues perfect for soaking up the last of the summer sun to indoor theaters steeped in history, experience classical music in a new way this fall with these can’t-miss performances. Don’t know Beethoven from Bach or Vivaldi from Verdi? Not to worry; the following performances can be enjoyed by all.


Live Music Performances
Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center
78 E Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6630

Dates: Performances are held throughout the week

Whether looking for a relaxing way to spend your lunch hour or you just want to take a break from the bustling crowds downtown, live music performances at the Chicago Cultural Center are a great way to take in some classical music. The center’s schedule includes Classical Mondays, featuring chamber music performances, and Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts on Wednesdays, which include solo and ensemble performances of classical music. All performances take place in the center’s Preston Bradley Hall on the third floor.

Kerry Leung (credit:

Tuesday Morning Music
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-5440

Dates: August 21 and 28

Held on the McGinley Pavilion directly across the lake from Evening Island, the weekly, hour-long Tuesday morning concerts feature a variety of artists and music to complement your visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden. The concert on August 21st features Chicagoans Robert Mayfield and Michael Cantafio performing Bach and Terrega on guitar. Marguerite Lynn Williams will perform on August 28th. The principal harpist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Williams will be joined by Maria Storm on violin for one selection.


Rush Hour Concerts
St. James Cathedral
65 E Huron St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-7360

Dates: August 21 and 28

Rush Hour Concerts were designed with the busy commuter in mind. The weekly 30-minute concerts, held at St. James Cathedral in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, feature an ever-changing rotation of world-renowned artists and compositions. Ranging from Renaissance to the 21st century, the concerts offer attendees a chance to mingle and relax while enjoying what the concert organizers call “great music for busy lives.” The come-as-you-are concerts are designed to be accessible to all, while fostering a sense of community. The August 21st concert will include the works of Mozart and Schubert, as performed by the Avalon String Quartet, and the August 28th concert will feature “Hansel and Gretel,” as performed by members of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Concert-goers can also purchase a flash drive featuring the recording of that evening’s concert.


Juilliard String Quartet
Martin Theatre at Ravinia Festival
201 Saint Johns Ave
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 266-5100

Date: September 6

If you’re looking for some Beethoven, then the Juilliard String Quartet’s performance at Ravinia Festival is sure to please. The quartet was established in 1946 with the goal to “play new works as if they were established masterpieces, and established masterpieces as if they were new.” The group has performed internationally at such venues as the International Beethoven Festival in Bonn, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. At Ravinia, the Quartet will perform Beethoven’s quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131 and quartet in A minor, Op. 132.


“The Magic Flute”
Harris Theater at Millennium Park
205 E Randolph Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 334-7777

Dates: September 15, 19, 21 and 23

Considered one of Mozart’s most famous operas, “The Magic Flute” is a harmonious medley of myth and magic featuring strange characters and, of course, love. Mozart wrote this opera in 1791; you can’t get more classic than that. Don’t speak German? Don’t worry. The Harris Theater production will be sung in English with English supertitles. This performance is also billed as family-friendly.

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“Bravo Brazil!”
Pick-Staiger Hall at Northwestern University
50 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
(847) 491-5441

Date: September 30

The Chicago Philharmonic presents “Bravo Brazil!” at the Pick-Staiger Hall on Northwestern University’s campus. Featuring Arnaldo Cohen on piano and Alex Klein as conductor, the event includes performances of Antônio Carlos Gomes’ “Overture to the Opera ‘Il Guarany,'” Osvaldo Lacerda’s “Oboe Concerto,” Liduino Pitombeira’s “Seresta No. 7” and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto.”

Elektra (credit:

Lyric Opera of Chicago
20 N Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 332-2244

Dates: October 6, 10, 13, 19, 22, 26 and 30

Revenge is not just a dish best served cold; in the opera “Elektra,” it’s an all-consuming passion. Clocking in at just under two hours, “Elektra” is conducted by Sir Andrew Davis and features Christine Goerke as the titular character. Emily Magee, Jill Grove and Alan Held also star. Here’s an incentive to arrive early: The Lyric Opera of Chicago offers free pre-opera lectures that begin one hour before the performance.

Related: Best Places To See Ballet In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at