Ravinia, an internationally renowned music festival, has been attracting music lovers to its open-air pavilion (and indoor recital halls) for over 100 years. The oldest outdoor music festival in North America is a mere 20 minutes north of downtown but forget the traffic to and from the site and use Metra which stops right at Ravinia’s main entrance. Parking is nightmarish around the Highland Park neighborhood, too, another reason to use the train. Locals love to pack a picnic, and many elaborate with candles and chi-chi food, and enjoy music by classical, jazz and popular music performers in a pastoral setting. New this year is an aquatic sculpture by the designers of the Bellagio’s dancing fountains, and 2016 is the 80th-anniversary summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The very first tune ever played at Ravinia was a steam calliope rendition of “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home.” We trust the 2016 season offers more panache and punch for your buck.
(Photo Credit: Ravinia Festival's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Ravinia Festival’s Facebook)


Ravinia
418 Sheridan Road
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 266-5000
www.ravinia.org

Popular Music Concerts

Ravinia generally hosts performances that go rather nicely with a bottle of red from individual artists like  Seal (Aug. 28); Bonnie Raitt (Sept. 3); Don Henley (Aug. 14/15); Indigo Girls (July 1); and Lyle Lovett & His Large Band and Emmylou Harris (July 18). The energy meter is kicked up a notch with War and Los Lonely Boys on Aug. 11 and perennial favorites such as Tony Bennett (Aug. 15) and a live broadcast of Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion return. In fact, this will mark the final live national broadcast from Ravinia with host Garrison Keillor on June 1,1 but fans will get to know his replacement,  Chris Thile, who was a member of Nickel Creek and The Punch Brothers. Others on the summer roster include Patti LaBelle (June 23); O.A.R.(Sept. 4); Steve Miller Band (July 2); Chick Corea with his trio and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and World Music faves Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Sweet Honey in the Rock (July 11). Bob Dylan returns to the venue for the first time since 1964, (then he was billed as “Robert Dylan”). Mavis Staples joins Dylan on the June 24 bill.

Tribute Concerts

A handful of notable events at the historic venue will salute some of the art form’s most enduring works. Jazz fans will be in heaven on Father’s Day (June 19) for a Tribute to Jazz Greats. Ramsey Lewisand John Pizzarelli celebrate Nat “King” Cole while pianist Monty Alexander pays homage to Tony Bennett.  Parents will wonder what they’re doing wrong while watching 12-year-old piano prodigy Joey Alexander. Deadheads can do a hippie spin to the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and guitarist of the Allman Brothers Band Warren Haynes tribute to Jerry Garcia on June 26. Other tribute nights include Bowie — The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (Sept. 9) and You’re the Top: Cole Porter’s 125th Birthday Celebration (Aug. 17); among others.

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Film With Orchestra

Among the more than 140 events taking place from June to Sept., Film with Orchestra will tickle movie fans. Expect five film nights complete with video screens in the Pavilion and on the lawn screening films like Titanic, The Wizard of Oz and Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, while world-renowned musicians (including the Chicago Symphony) play the score live.

Premieres And Debuts

Ravinia will present 50 classical and orchestral works never before performed at the festival, including some world premieres. Non-classical artists making their Ravinia debuts include Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons (June 12), Paul Simon (June 18), and Diana Ross (July 27). Duran Duran and CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers play the stage for the first time (July 8/9); Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmastersa nd Marty Stuart (Sept. 2); Barenaked Ladies bring back the ’90’s  and OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) with Howard Jones mine the ’80’s on June 9. The suburbs will finally rock with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog (July 3) and Jeff Beck shares the stage with Buddy Guy on July 3. From the sublime Bryan Ferry on Aug. 6 to the questionable Katharine McPhee and  Seth MacFarlane on June 22, Ravinia offers a truly diverse season.

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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.