Gift-wrapped seasonWell, the Cubs and White Sox celebrated their Spring Equinox for our fair city a couple of weeks ago. This tells me that Rush Hour’s own “Opening Day” is just weeks away! Our season has been put in a beautiful box and tied up with a ribbon, ready to be opened on Tuesday, June 3, at 5:15 p.m.

Lots of people comment on the excitement and diversity of each season’s programming. Many ask me how I plan the season, where the programs come from, and how it all fits together. I thought it might be fun to delve into that a bit for the curious.

Rubik's cubeIt’s actually like a Rubik’s Cube. I begin with an overall “flavor” of what I’d like the season to look (and sound!) like. Sometimes, I have program ideas left over from a year or two ago that didn’t make it on for logistical reasons. Often, over the course of the winter, I hear from artists with program ideas. I revisit old ideas, review new ones and begin to build from there, asking of each program, “Will this serve RH’s mission of promoting the experience of classical music in a welcoming, widely accessible, relevant, and culturally rich environment?” I like to think of the season as one long, extended dinner party, with thirteen parts – each part reacting chemically to the ones on either side of it: balance, diversity, all with the same level of artistic excellence, together forming an arc over the summer of weekly “happenings.” Gradually, programs begin to fall in place around each other and the programmatic ideas line up with the logistical demands of artists’ schedules.

Julie Hutchison, RH’s managing director, is an invaluable aid to me in this process and a wonderful litmus test for each program as well as the composite season. She has a wonderful rapport with all of our artists and works closely with their schedules throughout the summer.

08 brochure coverThis said, I refer you to our 2008 season and hope you will begin to make a place in your minds already for RH on Tuesdays throughout the summer. We will hear music for brass quintet, piano and woodwinds, percussion quartet, chamber choir (French Renaissance program), a recently penned string quartet by my colleague, Clancy Newman, Chinese and Western crossover music, and Bruce Barber’s “Organ 101” (music of J.S. Bach), among others. Our artists range from internationally esteemed veterans such as CSO principal clarinetist Larry Combs and principal flutist Mathieu Dufour to three seniors from Chicago area public schools who were local winners in the Poetry Out Loud Recitation Competition. We will also continue our partnerships with The Poetry Foundation and the Consulates General of China, France and Germany, highlighting the cuisines of the latter in pre-concert receptions.

Before RH starts, there are several excellent events to recommend this month:

Quintet AttaccaQuintet Attacca is presenting a showcase concert, “Q&A with QA,” on Monday, April 28 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Hall (Chicago Avenue and Grove Street in Evanston). The group will be presenting a lively and interactive concert event with refreshments, great woodwind music, and plenty of opportunities for questions. Get free tickets by mentioning “Rush Hour” when you call the Chicago Chamber Musicians’ box office at 312-225-5226. Click here for more information about the showcase concert.

Keiskamma AltarpieceSt. James Cathedral is once again host to the Keiskamma Altarpiece, an incredible work of art created by 130 women and men from the rural Eastern Cape Province of Hamburg, South Africa, as a hopeful response to the AIDS epidemic and poverty in their community. The Cathedral is open for viewing of the Altarpiece Wednesday through Sunday each week through May 11. For more details on viewing the Keiskamma Altarpiece, please click here.

Community Concerns in the Visual Arts is a four-part series being held in tandem with the Keiskamma display. As a work of community-based art and as an example of arts as a tool of economic development, the Altarpiece is a good starting point for conversation about similar issues in Chicago. Attend the last two presentations in this series on Tuesday, April 22 and Tuesday, April 29. Click here for more information on the series.

Best wishes,

Deborah Sobol

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