The Rush Hour staff and I have been hard at work amidst the snow and cold of last winter putting together our most exciting season yet. I am excited to share some of the details of our 07 roster and programs with you… but first, humor me for a few moments as I join the multitude of Chicagoans who muse about the approaching summer months in our fair city:

Mid-May: Folks of all ages are planting their container gardens, washing down the patio/balcony furniture, cheering the Cubs or White Sox in the Cross-Town rivalry, and are reveling in the longer days and gentler breezes off Lake Michigan. Forgotten are the woes of winter in Chicago. And just ahead – on Tuesday, June 5 – Rush Hour Concerts at St. James Cathedral joins other unique-to-Chicago rituals that transform our great city into a Monte Carlo for three wonderful months of the year.

Chicago becomes a resort town with the added bonus of magnificent cultural offerings. Rush Hour Concerts is right there in the middle of it: a weekly open “salon” – a gathering place for the culturally curious, the seasoned veterans to classical music, and the newcomers alike. They come from all backgrounds and many places, but have this in common: the satisfaction of taking an hour at the end of a work day or beginning of a summer evening downtown to experience live the musical pillars of the Western canon presented by some of the best artists in their fields, in a format that is up-close and personal, engaging, and refreshing.

The setting – St. James Episcopal Cathedral – is two blocks west of N. Michigan Avenue at Wabash and Huron. It is a historical landmark: Abe Lincoln worshipped there after his nomination to the Presidency in 1860; its bell tower was the only structure north of the Chicago River to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This magnificent building welcomes Rush Hour audiences weekly with a quiet and aesthetic beauty that is the antidote to the hubbub of our daily lives. The space, the 30-minute pre-concert reception with the artists and the half-hour of music-making are a wonderful island of calm.

I often hear this comment about Rush Hour: “I love the format – so accessible, so user-friendly, so relevant to people’s busy lifestyles… I can count on the same reception and concert routine every Tuesday throughout the summer… yet, each Tuesday is completely different from the next!” Our 07 season reflects this comment in spades!

A quick glance through the schedule reveals Schubert, Brahms, Bach, Debussy, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughn Williams, music of today, music of 300+ years ago, an exploration of the wonders of the pipa – the ancient Chinese stringed instrument that makes the cello look like the new kid on the block. Did I say cello… ah yes… the “cello-fest” of June 19 – not the Three Tenors, but the Six Cellists! Poets writing to Bach’s Three-Part Inventions, a dynamic percussion quartet, and… let’s not forget the annual Rush Hour honoring of the whimsical: this year, music of P.D.Q. Bach, with vocal quartet and piano 5 hands!

More variety: multi-culturalism abounds in partnerships with the Consulates General of Brazil, China, France, Germany, and Great Britain … receptions highlighting their wonderful cuisine, programs highlighting their music. And, perhaps the most distinctive thing about Rush Hour: the wide diversity of our weekly audiences: all ages, all backgrounds, all levels of exposure to great classical music, all busy, all culturally curious, all engaged listeners. This engagement, this curiosity is palpable to the 40 distinguished artists who grace our 07 roster. It makes for very high-energy performances and memorable Tuesdays throughout the summer.

Speaking of high energy: the Rush Hour staff is now notorious for it. They can’t wait until the doors of St. James Cathedral open at 5:15 on Tuesday, June 5th. We all look forward to greeting you.

Cheers,

Deborah Sobol
Artistic Director

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