Avalon 1The Summer Concert Series opened June 7, with Leos Janacek’s grippingly intense String Quartet #2, “Intimate Letters.” Janacek’s vivid harmonies and captivating story line set the stage for our return to his music on July 26 and August 9, in Rush Hour’s first in-depth composer mini-series.

On June 14, Axiom Brass came with a distinguished group of friends, including Christopher Martin (in one of his final Chicago concerts before his leave of absence to play Principal Trumpet with the New York Philharmonic), and filled St. James with the burnished sounds of several brass novelties, including Oskar Boehme’s brilliant Sextet and Witold Lutoslawski’s re-imagining of a familiar Paganini tune.


Make Music Chicago


Make Music Chicago (MMC), now in its sixth year, featured musical events in over thirty different Chicago neighborhoods, engaging performers young and old, professional and amateur, classical and cross-cultural, traditional and improvisatory, brought together through a shared joy of making music, and connecting Chicago to 700 cities across the globe participating in this annual summer solstice celebration. The capstone event of this sprawling party was an awe-inspiring recital by international violin superstar Augustin Hadelich, with MMC’s Artistic Director Kuang-Hao Huang at the piano (and Kuang-Hao’s young daughter Maia keeping busy with the page-turns in a devilishly complicated Stravinsky score!). The capacity crowd in St. James gave an instant standing ovation to this brilliant duo following what was arguably the most electrifying virtuoso display RHC has ever presented.


Educational Partnership


June 28 saw the return of Third Coast Percussion (TCP), one of our favorite partnering organizations, in an entire program of music composed by their members (a first for the ensemble). Earlier in the month, TCP had lead an orchestra of mostly middle school-age students in an innovative group composition project through RHC’s new community engagement partnership with the People’s Music School (TPMS), giving the kids a taste of the creative process; the pride the students felt in their work was evident to the enthusiastic crowd at “Performapaloozathon” at North Park University on June 11 as this one-of-a-kind project came to fruition. Additional projects this Spring included an Avalon String Quartet residency with TPMS’s SLAM (Service, Leadership and Mentorship) students, culminating in a side-by-side performance of Holst’s “Brook Green Suite;” and an Axiom Brass residency at Uptown Academy in which nearly 100 students got to refine their skills through Axiom’s “Art of Practicing” seminar and workshops on breathing and musicianship. All of these projects have been made possible through the tremendous generosity of the Caerus Foundation and the Robert and Isabelle Bass Family Foundation – their support has created inspiring opportunities for the students and professional ensembles alike. The People’s Music School is an exciting partner for Rush Hour Concerts thanks to its unique commitment to providing students with tuition-free access to exceptional musical experiences and instruction.


Pre-Concert Conversations


We’ve been adding more and more chairs each week for our popular pre-concert conversation series, continued from last summer. On June 7 Gerard McBurney, departing Creative Director of the CSO’s Beyond the Score made his final public appearance in Chicago with a captivating introduction to the music of Janacek. The following week, CSO archivist and RHC board member Frank Villella talked about the Chicago brass tradition, with insights from Axiom’s Dorival Puccini. On June 21, Joe Bein of the Stradivari Society talked about the rarefied world of fine string instruments, including the historic instrument played by Augustin Hadelich. And guest host Doyle Armbrust, an expert on the Chicago new music scene, gave us the lay of the land before TCP’s June 28th concert. The common audience complaint about all these conversations is that they can’t be three times longer!


Deborah Sobol Memorial Concert 


Now well into our 17th season, with beloved music for piano and strings from the heart of the chamber music repertoire, we would like to thank our audience for their continued open-mindedness and enthusiasm. Last week, one of our most devoted listeners approached me after the concert. She had flattered me last year with a donation to RHC in my honor, and, recognizing the huge team effort that goes into what we present, wanted to know who else in our organization she could honor with a gift. I told her the perfect opportunity is coming right up! On Tuesday, July 12, we celebrate the memory of Rush Hour Concerts’ founder Deborah Sobol, whose vision and passion created the curatorial framework that we carry on today. Debbie’s empathy led her to insist that cost not be a barrier to anyone who wanted to experience exceptional live chamber music. The annual Deborah Sobol Memorial Concert  presents artists whose careers Debbie nurtured, performing music that she loved. This year Spektral Quartet and pianist Daniel Schlosberg will perform Schumann’s Piano Quintet, Op. 44.

Friends of Debbie’s and devotees of Rush Hour Concerts will be recognizing her legacy through their gifts on July 12. A long-time, anonymous supporter of Rush Hour Concerts has come forward with a generous matching gift for all donations made to the Friends of Deborah Sobol fund by July 31. Individual gifts of all sizes will be matched dollar for dollar, up to a total of $10,000. We encourage you to maximize your impact by making a donation to Friends of Deborah Sobol now and look forward to celebrating Debbie’s legacy together on Tuesday, July 12 at St. James Cathedral.



Rush Hour Concerts has launched a safe, easy way to give using your cell phone.

Text the word GIVE to 312-698-307.

Punctuation and capitalization are not required. You’ll receive a quick reply, asking how much you’d like to donate. Enter an amount and send. The first time you give, you’ll need to follow series of prompts to set up a payment method. You may also choose to set up a recurring gift.  You’ll receive a text confirmation once you have successfully created your account and made a first gift. You and Rush Hour Concerts will also receive email confirmations of all gifts. Subsequent gifts may be made by simply texting GIVE and an amount in the future. Simple!

Our website also has a giving portal and our staff can accept gifts of cash, check or credit card at all concerts or in our office at St. James Cathedral: 65 E Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611.

Please contact Deirdre Harrison at 312-640-7418 x 14 or at deirdre@rushhour.org for assistance.


There is tremendous passion, dedication and teamwork behind the programs we put on, and commitment to the idea that people deserve access to the finest culture regardless of their background or circumstance. We are so grateful to all of you who recognize our efforts with your support, and allow us to continue nourishing you and your community with great music for busy lives.


Anthony Devroye, Artistic Director, Rush Hour Concerts

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