Philip Glass performs at Ravinia
Lake-Cook and Green Bay roads, Highland Park
All Martin Theatre concerts are at 8 p.m.
Tickets can be ordered at www.ravinia.org or (847) 266-5100
Updated: June 19, 2012 6:28PM
At Ravinia classical headliners are not always on the pavilion stage. Nestled in the comfortable confines of the Martin Theatre are numerous big musical talents who shine best in small spaces.
So until the Chicago Symphony Orchestra settles in July 4 for its summer residency, and just beyond, are chamber ensembles and soloists to enrich the entertainment of the festival’s classical fans.
This summer the 850-seat theater opens with pianist Leon Fleischer and friends Thursday June 21 and Saturday June 23 composer Philip Glass will celebrate his 75th birthday with a concert on the Martin stage.
Fleischer has plenty of friends, including the husband and wife team violinist Miriam Fried and violist Paul Biss, both members of Ravinia’s Steans Institute faculty, violinist Pamela Frank, violist Kim Kashkashian, and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum.
They will play Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Viola in G , as well as the composer’s String Quintet in C. Concluding the program is the Suite for Two Violins, Cello and Left-hand Piano, composed the early 1930s by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, before he took up permanent residency in the United States to compose Hollywood film scores.
Fleisher was a child prodigy whose successful career almost ended when he suffered the devastating loss of the use of his right hand in 1965. He turned to conducting and teaching, which he especially enjoyed, Eventually he returned to the keyboard playing some of the 1,000 piano works written exclusively for the left hand.
By 1995 newly discovered treatments restored him to the two-hand repertoire, though he continues to play left-hand works, as in the Ravinia program.
Philip Glass, himself a powerful pianist, will play his own works Saturday June 23 at the Martin with violinist Timothy Fain. The two met in 2007 when Glass assembled an ensemble to play his “Book of Longing,” a song cycle based on the poetry and artwork of Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen.
Glass admired the young man’s talent and Fain found himself deeply touched by the shifting moods in the composer’s music, so their association continued.
Their Ravinia program includes the 30-minute Partita for Solo Violin in Seven Movements, written for Fain, as well as Two Etudes, Metamorphosis (2,3,4), and arrangements of music from the screen, including “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.”
Virtuoso violinist Pinchas Zukerman and the Zukerman Chamber Players give a concert Tuesday June 26 in the Martin. The ensemble will play the Brahms Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor and the Shostakovich Piano Quintet in G Minor.
Zukerman, who plays both violin and viola is joined by his wife Amanda Forsyth, cello: Jessica Linnebach, violin: Jethro Marks, viola and Andrew Cheng, piano.
Internationally known violinist Midori plays two nights of unaccompanied Bach, though not back to back. On Tuesday July 3 she presents the composer’s Sonata No. 1 in G and No. 3 in C, as well as his Partita No. 2 in D Minor. Her program Thursday July 5 will be Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, plus Partita No. 1 in B Minor and Partita No. 3 in E.
July 6 the Grammy-winning Emerson String Quartet, now in its 37th season, will present Mozart’s Quartet in D, Beethoven’s Quartet in B-flat, including the “Grosse Fuge” finale, with “Four Quarters” by Ades in its Ravinia premiere, is placed between the two quartets.
Emerson members are violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, who alternate in the first chair position, cellist David Finckel and violist Lawrence Dutton. When they premiered “Four Quarters” by British composer Thomas Ades in Carnegie Hall in March, the New York Times proclaimed it a “dazzling new work.”
Angel Romero, a member of the Royal Family of the Guitar of Spain, will play music by Vivaldi, Sanz, Albeniz, Boccherini, and Granados in the Martin at 8 p.m. July 8. Also on the program is “Suite Andaluza” by Angel’s father Celedonio Romero, founder of the internationally popular Romero Guitar Quartet.
All Martin Theatre concerts are at 8 p.m.
The Prairie-style stucco theater just inside the festival’s west gate is the only building remaining from 1904, when the park opened as a summer haven for classical music.
Initially known as the Ravinia Theatre, it was renamed the Murray Theatre in 1963 to honor Howell W. Murray, Ravinia chairman from 1951 to 1958. In 1957 Murray supervised the opening of the theater, which had been dark since 1931. In 1994 Ravinia’s board and then executive director, Zarin Mehta, restored the building’s original name.
Eloise Martin of Kenilworth was a generous patron of the Ravinia Festival, endowing the position of music director for more than 20 years She was also a major supporter of the renovation of the Ravinia Theatre, which in 1995 was renamed in her honor.
The Martin, with its Tiffany-style art glass windows and painted timbers, now serves as a jewel of a space for recitals, chamber music programs, cabaret nights and James Conlon’s intimately staged Mozart operas. which will come later in this season.
And it has a special importance as it fills out the classical calendar surrounding the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts each summer.