Last week at Rush Hour, we heard a few of Benjamin Britten’s Folksong Arrangements from the British Isles. In preparing the concert, I was reminded of Britten’s lifelong belief that great classical music should be shared with as many types of audiences as possible – in the great cultural centers of the world’s large cities as well as gathering places in smaller communities. As a composer and performer, he lived out this belief throughout his life. I think Ben Britten would have liked Rush Hour and the role its community plays in presenting Great Music for Busy Lives.

The thought, care and time of a great many people go into producing these weekly concert events. As we enter our second month of this season, I would like to introduce you to some of them. Hannah, a student at the University of Chicago, is our concert manager. She oversees the first half of each week’s event – the reception, its food, its thematic presentation and its core of volunteers. She shops for, delivers and prepares all the reception food and coordinates a roster of generous weekly volunteers. She also manages the distribution of Rush Hour’s 20,000 season brochures across the city throughout the summer.

Hannah greeting Rush Hour guest Yao Chen, who happened to be her professor at the University of Chicago.

Jules, a Northwestern University graduate, is our webmaster, making sure our website and blog are updated weekly with all the audience enhancement information for which Rush Hour has become well-known. The website and blog introduce people to Rush Hour, provide pre-concert notes for those who want to arrive “informed,” and offer the chance to extend participation in each week’s events for those who want to further broaden their weekly Rush Hour experience. Jules makes a point of providing wonderful links to subjects of interest referred to in the writings of myself and other contributors to our website.

Tara, a recent University of Chicago graduate, produces the weekly concert programs, masterfully finding a way to include all the information you have come to expect in a four-page format. Tara and Jules also do support work on our database and in our development efforts – that all-important, “behind the scenes” work so directly linked to our ability to bring you these concerts free of charge.

In addition, we have a impressive group of weekly volunteers without whom Rush Hour would simply not be possible. By the end of today’s concert, our food prep and host team will have served 100 pounds of fruit. Jackie Lee King and his drink table team will have poured 50 bottles of wine and juices. Our ushers, headed by Chuck Hamilton, Robert Friedli and Marion Faldet, will have helped more than 1,500 people to their seats, handing out just as many programs. Our artists will have transformed tens of thousands of “notes” into music, and, 134 of you will have made financial contributions to keep these weekly musical gatherings free and open to all.

This is the work of a great many people who understand the magic of a community working together. I thank all of you who are part of Rush Hour’s “behind the scenes” support and I encourage any of you who would like to join this great group of people to talk to any of us about how to do so. You can speak to any staff member after the concert, or contact us via phone or email.

Lucile, dedicated and long-time Rush Hour usher!

Two final points for this week: first, our program change today is due to an unexpected change in violinist Bernard Zinck’s schedule. We are delighted to welcome the brilliant saxophonist, Ashu, who joins pianist Kuang-Hao Huang in our Global Rhythms program.

Second, St. James’ Director of Cathedral Music, Bruce Barber, has graciously offered to give any interested or curious folk a “tour” of the mighty St. James organ (with all its bells and whistles!) after today’s program. The organ has a fascinating history in the already fascinating history of this cathedral. If you are interested, please meet Bruce in the choir loft after today’s concert.

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