Bryan Hears a Who! Roger Daltrey Live at Ravinia – 6/23/18

Roger Daltrey, Live at Ravinia, Highland Park, Illinois, June 23, 2018

Setlist: Tommy (whole album except for instrumental “Underture”)
Who Are You
Baba O’Riley
Always Heading Home (new solo song from Roger Daltrey)

Players: Roger Daltrey (vocals), Simon Townshend (backing vocals, guitars), Frank Simes (guitars, backing vocals), Loren Gold (keyboards), Jon Button (bass, backing vocals), Scott Devour (drums), Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Keith Levenson)

Landscape view of the Ravinia pavilion and stage from the back left of the pavilion.
Pre-show – I’ve just about given up taking photos with my phone during concerts because they always look like garbage, and it distracts both me and other audience members from the music

Roger Daltrey’s performance of Tommy was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. One of the benefits of being a younger fan of progressive rock is the thrill of seeing many of the classic prog and classic rock bands on their 40th and 50th anniversary tours playing their classic albums. I’ve seen Ian Anderson perform Thick as a Brick, The Moody Blues perform Days of Future Passed, B. B. King doing a greatest hits show, Dennis DeYoung doing greatest hits of Styx, Kansas doing greatest hits… next week I’m seeing Yes for the first time, and I’m seeing the other Yes (Anderson, Wakeman, Rabin) in September. I’m proud to add Roger Daltrey of The Who to that list. And he played the greatest rock opera of all time! It was a fantastic evening, to say the least.

Continue reading “Bryan Hears a Who! Roger Daltrey Live at Ravinia – 6/23/18”

Days of Future Passed at 50: The Moody Blues, Live at Ravinia (6/30/17)

For some reason, I’ve not delved into the Moody Blues during my relatively recent absorption of classic progressive rock. Over the past 5-10 years, I’ve come to know the music of Rush, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Kansas, Styx, ELP, Pink Floyd, and many newer bands quite well, but I haven’t ventured much past “Nights in White Satin” in the Moody Blues catalog.

I’ve long believed that seeing a band live is a great way to become acquainted with their music. Seeing Kansas live many years ago was a great introduction to their music for me, and the same proved true for the music of Styx when I saw Dennis DeYoung live for the first time. Thus, when I saw that the Moody Blues were going to play at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL, this summer, I jumped at the chance. In the meantime, I prepared by listening to Days of Future Passed, as well as many of the band’s hits.

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Itzhak Perlman and the CSO – “1812 Overture” – Live at Ravinia – 8/20/16 and 8/21/16

8/20/2016

Itzhak Perlman, violin
Bramwell Toveyconductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (without Itzhak Perlman)

8/21/2016

Itzhak Perlmanconductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 (featuring Lynn Harrell on cello)
“1812” Festival Overture, Op. 49 (with live cannons)

3191_by-STRINGS-EXCLUSIVE-Lisa-Marie-MazzuccoWithout a doubt, Itzhak Perlman is likely the greatest violinist alive today. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1945, to parents that moved from Poland to British Palestine in the 1930s, Perlman began playing the violin at a very early age. He skyrocketed to fame at the age of 13, when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Not surprisingly, he continued his studies at Juilliard. At the age of four, he contracted polio. He recovered, but he has had to walk with crutches ever since. Today, he plays the violin and conducts while seated. 

Listening to Itzhak Perlman play Beethoven on Saturday night was an honor and a privilege. After the orchestra took their places (they had the A team out both nights), Perlman drove his motorized scooter out to center stage, grabbed his crutches, and without any help from anyone else, climbed the few steps to his seat and sat down – all while the audience gave him a standing ovation. We all knew this was going to be amazing before it had even started. Once Perlman sat down, the first chair violinist handed him his violin. He took it and looked it over before nodding to the first chair. Everyone in the audience laughed, because it was obvious that Perlman was making sure that no one had made a switch with the instruments. This particular violin was a cut above everything else on that stage – it sounded absolutely beautiful. I know that an organization or donor has loaned Perlman a Stradivarius to play for the duration of his life, but I highly doubt they would bring such a priceless instrument to an outdoor venue. Plus, if it had been a Stradivarius, I’m sure they would have brought it out to him under lock and key. Regardless, this instrument sounded amazing.

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Vladimir Feltsman – Pictures at an Exhibition – Live at Ravinia

Vladimir Feltsman, Piano

August 8, 2016, Martin Theatre, Ravinia, Highland Park, IL

Brahms – Four Ballades, Op. 10
Brahms – Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79
Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition

feltsman_2

Last night, I was fortunate enough to see Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, as well as some selections from Brahms, performed live by brilliant pianist, Vladimir Feltsman. Feltsman was born in Russia in 1952, and he made his piano debut at age 11 with the Moscow Philharmonic. He continued his study at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in 1969, later studying conducting at the Moscow and Leningrad Conservatories. In 1979, after years of growing increasingly frustrated with the Soviet Union’s communist suppression of artistic freedom, Feltsman applied for an exit visa. The communists responded by banning him from giving public performances and suppressing his recordings. After eight years of this, he was allowed to leave the Soviet Union and move to America, where he soon made his debut performance at Carnegie Hall. He is now an American citizen, and he currently lives in upstate New York with his wife. All this to say, the man is a brilliant musician and a lover and defender of freedom.

Photo courtesy of Ravinia Festival
Photo courtesy of Ravinia Festival – this was not taken at last night’s concert

Ravinia is probably the finest music venue in the Chicago area, if not the entire country. Ravinia opened in northside Chicago suburb Highland Park in 1904, and it has been the summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1936. It even hosted one of George Gershwin’s final public performances of Rhapsody in Blue. It is also the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States. The venue is situated mere blocks from Lake Michigan in a lovely older suburban area. The park has a covered pavilion with seats, as well as a much larger lawn area, complete with old oak, maple, and birch trees, among many others. The site also features the Martin Theatre, which has beautiful prairie style architecture, stained glass windows, and chandeliers, as well as wonderful motifs painted on the ceiling. It is a wonderful example of early 20th century prairie style architecture. The park also includes multiple high class restaurants with excellent cuisine, with a menu that changes for each performance.

Continue reading “Vladimir Feltsman – Pictures at an Exhibition – Live at Ravinia”