Ravinia Festival's 2011 Gala Benefit Evening will celebrate legendary American composer George Gershwin with a program including his most beloved music at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. This performance commemorates the 75th anniversary of Gershwin's Ravinia performance by recreating the concert, which in 1936 had audiences climbing into the trees to catch a glimpse of the musical genius. Ravinia Festival Music Director James Conlon will lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the 75-minute concert, which features renowned Gershwin interpreters vocalists Kelli O'Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sylvia McNair and pianist Kevin Cole.
The program features Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and Cuban Overture, replicating
Gershwin's 1936 Ravinia concert. Hosted by the Ravinia Women's Board, the annual Gala is the
only performance fundraiser benefiting the not-for-profit festival's mission, especially its efforts to
bring music back to the schools through its REACH*TEACH*PLAY education programs.
Concert-only tickets are available, and pavilion and lawn audiences who do not purchase
tickets to the Gala dinner are welcome to enjoy the evening on the lawn following the concert.
"It seemed almost kismet in a year when Ravinia celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's summer residency, that it is also the 75th anniversary of the George
Gershwin concert that has been legendary in the festival's history," said Ravinia President and CEO
Welz Kauffman. "I cannot think of a better way to celebrate this American icon, than to have one of America's greatest orchestras perform his works alongside Gershwin interpreters Kevin Cole, Sylvia McNair, Kelli O'Hara and Brian Stokes Mitchell."
Tickets for the black-tie Women's Board Gala dinner, including priority seating for the
concert, are available to individual benefactors for $750. Tables of 10 are sold at tiered prices from $7,500 to $50,000. For more information or to purchase tickets to the benefit dinner, please call 847-266-5045 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org. Concert-only tickets, priced at $70-$100 for pavilion and $15 for lawn, are available for purchase exclusively at ravinia.org.
Additionally, the festival's 2011 lineup has been announced and includes combining a roster of Ravinia favorites with a "who's who" of chart-toppers making festival debuts. The season, running June 9 through Sept. 11, features the debuts of Jennifer Hudson, Maroon 5, Five For Fighting and Deep Purple and the return of Robert Plant, Carrie Underwood, Wynton Marsalis and Pink Martini, sharing an evening with Ramsey Lewis, artistic director of Jazz at Ravinia. Broadway names to grace the fest in addition to Brian Stokes Mitchell and Kelli O'Hara include Mandy Patinkin and Laura Benanti. Tickets are available now with a Ravinia donation; see Ravinia.org for more details. Public ticket online sales begin on April 27.
"What makes Ravinia so unique is that it truly is a festival in every sense of the word," Kauffman said. "I love that, in the span of one week, music-lovers can experience Chicago Children's Choir, The Judds, The Moody Blues, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, Robert Plant and a showcase of the jazz musicians from our own summer conservatory, the Steans Music Institute, and still have more than 100 events of the season left. It truly is a something-for-everyone venue, and as they say about Chicago weather, stick around because tomorrow will be different."