Bringing The Sexy

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I’m a classical music dabbler.  I don’t profess to have the ability to be conversant about Mahler’s “Symphony No.5” or Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” in the same way I am about August: Osage County or Macbeth or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but I like my classical music fix here and there, either in the hallowed halls of Symphony Center or under the bucolic greenery of Millennium Park or Ravinia during the summer.  I mean, come on, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been ranked as one of the top five orchestras in the world, and it is acclaimed everywhere it goes during its extensive world tours. But I do think classical music performances among my demographic and younger continue to have that air (some would call stigma) of inaccessibility, more so than the rest of the performing arts – unlike theater or film, there aren’t clear-cut narratives and dialogue to follow; unlike pop or rock music concerts, there isn’t as much of a visceral impact.  But Chicago is packed with young, talented, boundary-pushing classical musicians and ensembles, and if you keep yourself in the loop, great opportunities to hear them in places other than Symphony Center, Ravinia, Millennium Park, or the myriad of concert halls that dot the city.  A couple of weekends ago, I managed to have a double dose of classical music performance in between the non-stop theatergoing I do- one night I was at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNow event called Mercury Soul at, of all places, The Metro, in the last-remaining tiny patch of grunge in the outer edges of frat-jock central Wrigleyville.  The next night I attended the End-of-Season concert (and party) of the fantastic, fast-emerging Spektral Quartet in a clandestine performance arts space on the outer edges of nowheresville Chicago (actually an industrial stretch of Elston that is literally a dump – there was a garbage truck parking lot on it). Both were essential experiences for any Chicago cultural adventurer, and both proved that classical music was indeed sexy and relevant. On both evenings, I kinda had to pinch myself on how lucky I was to live in this vibrant arts city.

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