RH, Starbucks - Both are a complete experienceMore than a just a reception and great live music in the time frame of an hour at the end of the day, Rush Hour, like Starbucks, has now become known on the summer cultural landscape of Chicago as an “experience.”

Dictionary entry: The clever little dashboard icon on my Mac brings up a dictionary in addition to the time and the weather. (The dictionary has been more encouraging than the weather this week.) Here’s what it says about “experience”:
Noun: “Practical contact with and observation of facts or events. Knowledge or skill acquired by such means over a period of time. An event or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone.”
Verb: “To encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence); to feel (an emotion).”

It seems Rush Hour fits the bill in all descriptors.

I’m often asked by people unfamiliar with Rush Hour and with classical music, for that matter, what they will “experience” at Rush Hour. Now, in mid-May, less than three weeks away from the opening of our ninth season, I’m reflecting on how someone will feel on June 2 (the day before Rush Hour opens) and again on August 27 (the day after the last concert event of the upcoming season). What will they experience over the summer? What will they take with them? What will the arc of the ‘08 Rush Hour experience feel like for them?

There are clearly many components to this “arc,” but if pressed to name one, I would choose the role of the audience. The audience’s role in the Rush Hour experience is central – and, to the surprise of many, active and participatory. Engaged listeningAs a Rush Hour listener, you will learn that role, revel in it and experience it weekly. You will experience the difference between “hearing” and “listening.” You will enter the dynamic triangle of composer/performer/listener and experience the energy unique to this activity. Each week you will be given what you need to be able to listen in an engaged manner, with as much additional follow-up enhancement material available online at rushhour.org.

I refer you to my column in the April newsletter for a programmatic overview of our ‘08 season. As to the question of how you will feel at the beginning of June and then again at the end of August– you will have “experienced” 13 weeks of culture and community working together. I invite you to make our regular, user-friendly format of concert events – each Tuesday different than the next – part of your routine. These weekly trips to (as I like to call it) “the 35,000 foot level” will enhance the other six days of your week.

If you (or friends and associates) are unfamiliar with classical music or Rush Hour, please know that all you need to bring to our weekly “summer city salon/cultural happy hour” are two things: your ears and your humanity.

We look forward to seeing you in just a few short weeks for our opener on June 3. But before our ninth season starts, I’d like to make two recommendations:

Handel's Coronation AnthemsSt. James Cathedral concludes its concert season this Sunday, May 18 with Handel’s “Coronation Anthems.” Trumpets, oboes, drums, strings, organ and choir—all the makings of a royal feast for the ears! Based on biblical texts and composed for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1727, these four anthems were Handel’s first composition as a British subject. The concert begins at 4:00 p.m. Click here for more details.Larry Combs & Mathieu Dufour

The final event in CCM’s Freshly Scored series, “Music of Light and Shadow,” explores new worlds through sound. Kyle Werner’s “Blueprints,” inspired by the Great Lakes and the winning composition of CCM’s first ever young composer competition, joins Stoeger Prize recipient Pierre Jalbert’s delightful meditation on Louis Tiffany’s stained glass windows and Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Stucky’s gentle and dark quartet and Debussy-inspired trio. The concert will take place Monday, June 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Merit School of Music’s Gottlieb Hall. For more information, click here.

Best wishes,

Deborah Sobol

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