Fall concerts by symphony orchestras on or around the North Shore begin in September and go well into December. Make a note of the ones that appeal to you and buy some tickets. Nothing beats a live performance.
LAKE FOREST SYMPHONY welcomes its new music director Vladimir Kulenovic, who will conduct a pair of concerts at 8 p.m. Saturday Sept. 6 and 2 p.m. Sunday Sept. 7. The program features Haydn’s Symphony No. 1, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Fantasy on Serbian Themes,” Glazunov’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, with soloist Stefan Milenkovich, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Guest conductor David Cho will lead the second pair of concerts at 8 p.m. Saturday Nov. 1 and 2 p.m. Nov. 2, featuring Beethoven’s Overture to “The Creatures of Prometheus,” James Stephenson’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (Tributes) with Jennifer Frautschi as soloist and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathetique). All concerts are held in the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts on the College of Lake County campus in Grayslake. Tickets are $59 to $35. For information visit lakeforestsymphony.org or call (847) 295-2135.
CHICAGO PHILHARMONIC opens its 25th season with “Nordic Sounds” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21 in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, with Tchaikovsky’s “Hamlet” Overture, Gade’s Violin Concerto with Christina Åstrand as soloist, Arvo Pärt’s “If Bach Had been a Beekeeper,” and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 1. Music director Scott Speck conducts. It is followed by “Power of Touch” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 in Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston. The opera-inspired program includes Rossini’s Overture to “La scala di seta,” Mozart’s arias “Batti, batti, o bel Masetto” and “Vedrai, carino,” both from “Don Giovanni,” Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, plus Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 (“Drumroll”) with soprano Asako Tamura and guest conductor Joel Smirnoff. Tickets are $75 to $25. For information, visit chicagophilharmonic.org or call (847) 866-6888 or (312) 957-0000.
LAKE FOREST CIVIC ORCHESTRA, formerly North Suburban Symphony, opens its 26th season at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28. Christopher Ramaekers, director of Orchestras at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, conducts Symphony No. 100 (Military) by Haydn. Rossini’s Overture to “La Gazza Ladra” and Carmen Suite No. 1 by Bizet at Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest. The next concert is at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 with Lawrence Eckerling, music director of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, conducting Brahms “Academic Festival Overture, Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 by Grieg and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 at Vernon Hills High School, 145 Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills. Concert tickets are $20/$10 students and seniors, children 12 and under free with paid adult. For information, visit lakeforestcivicorchestra.org.
ARS VIVA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA opens its 19th season at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28 with Dvorak’s “Carnival Overture,” Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” with concertmaster David Taylor as violin soloist, and Symphony No. 4 by Brahms. An all-Beethoven program next on Dec. 7: “Coriolan Overture,” Piano Concerto No. 4 with Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein, and Symphony No. 4. Concerts conducted by founder and music director Alan Heatherington at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Tickets are $75 to $36. For information, visit arsviva.org or call (847) 673-6300.
SKOKIE VALLEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA opens its 53rd season with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 as well as music featuring the winners of the orchestra’s Young Artist Competition at 3 p.m. Sunday Oct. 12, Its second concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday Nov. 16 “Music of the Chosen People” including Bruch’s “Kol Nidrei” and works by Bloch, Goldmark, Mahler and Korngold. All programs are conducted by music director Francesco Milioto in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Single tickets are $44 to $35/seniors $41 to $27. Special pricing for 25 and under. For information, call (847) 679-0501, ext. 3014, email email@example.com or visit svso.org.
CAMERATA CHICAGO CHAMBER ORCHESTRA presents the Dvorak Cello Concerto with Joshua Roman as soloist at 4:30 p.m. Sunday Oct. 12, Lutheran Church of the Ascension, 460 Sunset Ridge Road, Northfield. The program, conducted by Droston Hall, opens with Rossini’s overture to the “The Barber of Seville” and includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Tickets are $30/20 for seniors, $10 for students, 16 and younger free. Visit www.cameratachicago.org.
NORTHBROOK SYMPHONY opens its 35th season at 4 p.m. Sunday Oct. 19 with “The Four Seasons,” including Roussel’s “For a Spring Festival,” Honegger’s “Summer Pastoral,” Glazunov’s “Autumn Bacchanale” from “The Seasons,” and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 (Winter Dreams). The second concert, “The Spirituality of Music’’ is at 4 p.m. Sunday Nov. 16 with a program of Arne’s Symphony No. 3, Haydn’s “Te Deum,” Handel’s “What Passion Cannot Music Raise,” Boyce’s Symphony No. 4, Rameau’s Dances and Chorus from “Les Fetes D’Hebe,” Purcell’s “Te Deum,” and Handel’s three choruses from “Messiah,” including “Hallelujah!” Guests include the Conservatory of Roosevelt University, Cheryl Frazes Hill, director, soprano Sharon Quattrin Campagna, and Patricia Lee, playing harpsichord and organ. All programs are conducted by music director Lawrence Rapchak at the Sheely Center for the Performing Arts, 2300 Shermer Road, Northbrook. For tickets call (847) 272-0755 or visit northbrooksymphony.org.
EVANSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. The first concert of the orchestra’s 68th season is a program of all Russian music, including Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini,” with piano soloist Kate Liu, 20, an international prize winner now studying at the Curtis Institute of Music. She previously studied with Alan Chow, Micah Yui and the late master teacher Emilio del Rosario at the Music Institute of Chicago. “It is such a complex and difficult piece,” said music director and conductor Lawrence Eckerling, “Everyone knows the beautiful 18th variation, which by the way, is an inversion of the opening theme.”
The program opens with another rhapsody, this one on Moldavian themes, by Mieczslaw Weinberg. He is composer of the opera “The Passenger,” which will be presented at Lyric Opera of Chicago this season. “Weinberg is the composer nobody knew,” Eckerling continued. “He wrote 22 symphonies, 17 string quartets, and only now is he getting any recognition. Our performance of this work will be its Midwest premiere.”
The concert concludes with Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony. “This was his reconciliation with his home country,” the maestro explained. “Others left and so did he, but he went back. It is an electric work.”
“Russian Rhapsodies” will be performed at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston. Advance tickets are $30/$25 seniors/$5 full-time student. Children 12 and under are free. For information, visit evanstonsymphony.org.
HIGHLAND PARK STRINGS opens its 36th season at 3 p.m. Sunday Oct. 26 with Schumann’s Piano Concerto, Susan Merdinger soloist, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral). The second concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday Dec. 7 includes Grieg’s Holberg Suit, Atterberg’s Suite for Violin, Cello and Strings, with Desiree Ruhstrat, violin, and David Cunliffe, cello, Herbert’s Serenade for Strings and Martinu’s Concertino for Piano Trio and Strings with the Lincoln Trio. Both programs are conducted by music director Francesco Milioto and performed at Highland Park High School, 433 Vine Av., Highland Park. Admission is free. For information, call (847) 831-3622 or visit hpstrings.org.