Heather Headley performs at the Ravinia Pavilion on July 16, 2023. (Patrick Gipson / Ravinia Festival)

Whether she is performing songs from a Broadway musical, a familiar hymn or a gospel classic, Heather Headley possesses a voice and personality that can easily mesmerize an audience. And so she did with a grand-scale performance at Ravinia Pavilion.

Music director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program including music by Florence Price and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony at the free Concert for Chicago in Millennium Park. (Todd Rosenberg)

With an audience approaching about 8,500 people, Maestro Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the “Concert for Chicago” in Millennium Park. He ended his 13-year tenure as CSO music director but will continue to conduct some performances.

Riccardo Muti and guest chorus director Donald Palumbo onstage following performance of Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis.” (Todd Rosenberg)

Maestro Riccardo Muti chose Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis” as the work he wished to conduct to mark “the official end” of his glorious 13-year tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has been named music director emeritus for life and will continue to lead occasional CSO performances.

CSO principal tuba Gene Pokorny and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Lalo Schifrin’s “Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra.” (Todd Rosenberg)

The tuba may be one of the largest instruments in a symphony orchestra and an important source of the brass sound, but it is rarely celebrated in a work that puts it front and center by way of a masterful composer and musician.

The South Chicago Dance Theatre performs “Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley.” (Andy Argyrakis)

Chicago’s dance scene is in high gear these days with formidable performances by ballet, modern, jazz, tap, Spanish and classical Indian companies on stages in and around the city. A case in point was this past Saturday’s one-night-only world premiere performance of “Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley” by South Chicago Dance Theatre.

Guest conductor Jakub Hrůša leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. (Todd Rosenberg)

If one needs any proof that calamity, whether personal and/or political, also has the power to inspire great works of art, Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 9 in D Major” can easily serve as a prime example. 

The company of “West Side Story” at the Lyric Opera. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Two very different musicals now on stage in Chicago — a revival of “West Side Story” at Lyric Opera, and a new work, “Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon,” at Lookingglass Theatre — are in many ways driven by the issue of immigration. 

Violinist Vadim Gluzman joins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor David Afkhamin for a performance of Shostakovich’s “Violin Concerto No. 1.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

GluzmanGuest conductor David Afkham led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Vadim Gluzman, the extraordinary guest violinist, in a riveting performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s fiendishly difficult, emotionally intense “Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor.” Perfomances of works by Ravel and Debussy rounded out the program. 

Principal timpani David Herbert makes his CSO solo debut performing Kraft’s “Timpani Concerto No. 1.” (Todd Rosenberg)

A recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra program juxtaposed works by three masterful yet radically different composers of classical music: Wolfgang Mozart, William Kraft and Ottorino Respighi.

Concertmaster Robert Chen in a performance of Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The latest program by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra honors Robert Chen, the orchestra’s invaluable concertmaster and masterful violinist. It also features a glimpse of a rarely revived opera. 

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs at Orchestra Hall. (Todd Rosenberg)

Something magical happens when Maestro Riccardo Muti arrives on the podium at Orchestra Hall to lead the invariably superb musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Eric Amundson and Curtis Bannister in “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin.” (Liz Lauren)

The Mercury Theater production of this show, with its tragi-comic book by William Hauptman drawn straight from the Mark Twain classic and a wonderfully varied score by country music master Roger Miller, is ideally realized on every front.

Victoria Jaiani in Joffrey Ballet production of “The Little Mermaid.” (Credit: Cheryl Mann)

The ballet, now receiving its Chicago premiere in a grand-scale production by the Joffrey Ballet on the Lyric Opera House stage, is a strange but compelling work inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s enduring classic and features impeccible dancing. 

 From left, Raven Whitley, Alejandra Escalante, Christopher Donahue, Felipe Carrasco,Kate Fry, Kareem Bandealy, Will Allan and Amanda Drinkall in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” at Goodman Theatre. (Credit: Liz Lauren)

“The Cherry Orchard,” Anton Chekhov’s masterful play, is about change — social, historical, financial and emotional. And change is of the essence at the Goodman Theatre too, with this production marking the retirement of artistic director Robert Falls.

Pianist Daniil Trifonov (left) and violinist Joshua Bell (right) performed at Orchestra Hall on March 29, 2023. (Provided)

Violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Daniil Trifonov dazzled an Orchestra Hall audience Wednesday night, writes WTTW News theater critic Hedy Weiss. The musicians, in top form, even treated the enthusiastic crowd to two encores.

Jonathan Michie and Taylor Raven in “The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing.” (Michael Brosilow)

Alan Turing was a genius — a brilliant English mathematician and logician who is renowned for his invaluable work as a codebreaker during World War II. But he also was a tragic figure, driven to an early death by chemical castration (and possibly by suicide) because of his homosexuality, which during his lifetime, was treated as a crime.