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Ravinia Announces 2015 Lineup

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 5, 2015 2:30PM

Tony Bennett brings Lady Gaga with him for his annual Ravinia appearance June 26-27. (Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Ravinia Festival is a microcosm of summer in Chicago: dripping in nostalgia; fleeting; and full of people seizing it for all it's worth. And it's with great anticipation that we wait for the announcement of the festival's lineup so we can pick through it and circle what shows we'd like to attend, the concerts that may pique our interest at a later date and the ones that feel like we'd be paying $40 (and a Metra ticket) to go to a street festival.

Ravinia's 2015 lineup was released overnight and our first impressions are that organizers are continuing their focus on growing the audience for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's summer residency. Sixty-five percent of this season's schedule is dedicated to classical music. Additionally, 2015 will mark James Conlon's final season as music director and conductor of CSO's Ravinia stay and he'll revisit some of his favorite moments from his 30-year association with the festival.

A few highlights: a recreation of his first Ravinia program at Ravinia in 1977 featuring Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Ravinia favorite Garrick Ohlsson performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 488 (July 22); an evening of music from Russian composers from his first season as Ravinia's music director, featuring selections from Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, and pianist Lise de la Salle performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (Jul. 29); a nod to his award-winning "Breaking the Silence" series focusing on composers who were silenced during the Nazi regime featuring an encore performance of Alexander Zemlinsky’s symphonic poem The Mermaid (Die Seejungfrau) and Jorge Federico Osorio performing Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Conlon will bid farewell to Ravinia Aug. 15 with a performance of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, which has never been performed in its entirety at the festival, featuring Greer Grimsley, Amber Wagner, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Simon O’Neill and the Chicago Symphony Chorus.

This year's lineup features longtime mainstays Tony Bennett and Ramsey Lewis, but with a couple wrinkles. Bennett is bringing Lady Gaga with him for a two-night stay June 26-27, while the 80-year-old Chicago jazz legend Lewis will make his debut as a CSO composer and soloist Aug. 8. Lewis will be sandwiched between milquetoast jazz crooners Harry Connick Jr. (Aug. 7) and Diana Krall (Aug. 9).

The oldies circuit is highlighted by appearances from Brian Wilson and Rodriguez (July 6), Chicago (Aug. 22-23) and Santana (Aug. 29-30). Music fans who love the '90s can get their fill with multi-act bills such as the "Under the Sun" tour featuring Better Than Ezra, Sugar Ray, Uncle Kracker and Eve 6 (Aug. 18), and Umphrey's McGee returns to Ravinia Aug. 14.

Tickets to Ravinia's 2015 season will go on sale March 20 exclusively at Ravinia's website to donors at the Friend level and above, and April 28 to the general public.