It is gratifying to look back on a full summer of music, as the 17th season of Rush Hour Concerts comes to a close. Highlights of the season include Augustin Hadelich and Kuang-Hao Huang’s Make Music Chicago recital, Schumann’s breathtaking Piano Quintet in memory of Deborah Sobol, and Fifth House Ensemble’s lively interpretation of Janacek alongside poet Richie Hoffman. Every program this summer brought something unique, including the exceptional virtuosity and artistry of the Chicago performers we are so proud to present.
Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes for a truly successful concert experience, and three distinct factors come to mind.
First, we want to elicit some reaction from our listeners, to move you. Sometimes this has to do with the beauty of the experience, but prettiness is by no means the only goal. Some music is meant to disrupt or disturb, or reach us through sadness or pain. Other times it can be exuberant, playful, or intriguing. We want you to feel like something has happened to you, not just that another half-hour of your life has idly passed by.
Second, we feel that the music should be presented in context. This can happen through spoken or written commentary focusing on the life and times of the composer, basic analysis of musical forms and features, or a tracing of the historical arc of the genre at hand. Every piece of music has a story or context that can deepen our understanding of a performance.
Finally, we hope that the impact of the performance and contextualizing of the experience create a hunger in the listener for more. This is the factor that ultimately leads to the sustenance of the art form itself, by captivating people new to the experience and continually enriching the relationship to music of even the most seasoned concertgoers.
These three factors have been the driving force behind our curation of the Rush Hour Concerts experience. Your response – in your continued presence at our concerts, your enthusiastic support of our great performers, and your financial investment in this ongoing experiment – tells us that you are still hungry for more, and we are privileged to keep bringing it to you.
Thank you for being a part of our season!
Anthony Devroye, Artistic Director