The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

This Week's Picks: We Hope You Still Like Shostakovich

By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 26, 2010 7:20PM

Measha Brueggergosman sings with the CSO on Thursday and Friday (Photo by Alex Gardner)
With concert season in full swing, busy weeks are expected, but even with that in mind this week is a little hectic. Here's the short list of concerts we're trying to get to.

Wednesday - Fulcrum Point's "Motown Metal"
For the adventurous out there, new-music group Fulcrum Point will put on a program of pieces based more or less on cars, both the metal of their composition and the Motor City's musical heritage. Works will include David Lang’s solo percussion piece "The Anvil Chorus" (1991), Yan Maresz's "Metallics" for trumpet & surround-sound electronics (1995), Stefan Freund's "Metal" (2000), Michael Daugherty's "Motown Metal" (1994), and "Out of Black Dust" (2007), a piece by former Chicago Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence Mark Anthony Turnage based on the rhythm and chords of Led Zeppelin’s "Black Dog."
7:00 p.m. at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, $20, $15 students

Thursday and Friday - The CSO Concert We've Been Waiting For

Despite all the hoopla surrounding the inaugural year of the CSO’s new music director Riccardo Muti, the concerts we were looking most forward to were the ones happening this week. Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8, the infrequently played and supremely violent work composed during WWII, would be enough to get us excited (click here to sample the badassery), but then they also threw in four songs from Gustav Mahler’s "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (including "Urlicht," which later became the fourth movement of his Second Symphony), to be sung by Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, and "Dark Waves" by contemporary composer John Luther Adams (not to be confused with contemporary composer John Adams). There's no connection between the works - although there are echoes of the slowly building first movement of Shostakovich's Eighth in Adams's flowing work for orchestra and electronics - but that's fine. Sometimes putting together great and novel music is enough.

In addition, the concert is a part of the CSO's Classical Tapestry. Participating in the program gets you into two other events (the others are a chamber performance with Yo-Yo Ma and a jazz show with Branford Marsalis and Terrence Blanchard), as well as food- and drink-laden pre-concert talks.
8:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, $28-$133

Saturday - Chicago Sinfonietta Celebrates the Day of the Dead
The Sinfonietta’s Day of the Dead celebration centers on Latin culture, although it includes a couple outliers, Maurice Ravel’s "Pavane for a Dead Princess" (1899) and Modest Mussorgsky’s "Night on Bald Mountain" (1867). To be fair, though, Ravel was inspired by dances at a Spanish court, and you really shouldn’t let Halloween pass by without listening to "Bald Mountain." The rest of the program sticks to the Latin theme, with conductor Hector Guzman leading the Sinfonietta and pianist Joaquín Achúcarro in a tour of Spain and Latin America with works by Manuel de Falla, Eugenio Toussaint, Arturo Márquez, Astor Piazzolla, and José Pablo Moncayo. In addition, the National Museum of Mexican Art will display installations in the Harris Theater lobby.
7:30 p.m. at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, $26-$50

Sunday - Shostakovich, then Shostakovich, and then Shostakovich
More Soviet Arts Experience means more Shostakovich! The festival marches on with the next leg of the Pacifica Quartet's Shostakovich string quartet cycle. This pair of concerts (2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) only includes two quartets, Shostakovich's Fourth (1949) and Fifth (1952), but pianist Orion Weiss will also join Pacifica for a performance of the Piano Quintet (1940).

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the CSO's training orchestra, jumps in on the hot Soviet action with a free performance of Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony, the string orchestra version of the composer's famous String Quartet No. 8 (1960). Headlining the program will be Peter Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony (1888). Arrive early for the pre-concert conversation led by William White.
Pacifica performs at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at Ganz Hall, 430 S. Michigan, $35
Civic Orchestra performs at 6:30 p.m. at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, FREE (although you still need to get a ticket)