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(Photo credit: Kyle Dunleavy)

Should you need any additional proof of the adage that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” the recent one-night-only performance by the Joffrey Ballet at the Ravinia Festival provided all the evidence required.

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Willie Nelson performs at Ravinia on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (Credit: Kyle Dunleavy)

The crowd roared and jumped to its feet the minute the 88-year-old country music legend walked onto the stage on Saturday night — and his ability to instantly connect to his audience is unwavering, with his guitar playing still seemingly effortless.

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Sheléa performs at “Unboxing Bernstein: A Live Revue” at the Ravinia Festival on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021. (Courtesy of the Ravinia Festival)

“Unboxing Bernstein: A Live Revue” served as a stirring reminder of Leonard Bernstein’s genius for mixing and matching musical genres. 

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Rachel Barton Pine performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Friday, July 16, 2021. (Courtesy of the Ravinia Festival)

It was quite a weekend at the Ravinia Festival. On Friday evening virtuoso violinist Rachel Barton Pine filled in for the indisposed Midori with just a few hours of advance notice, and aced Prokofiev’s fiendishly difficult “Violin Concerto No. 1.”

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti on the podium during the CSO’s May 9, 2019 program of works by Mozart and Stravinsky. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

In addition to the series of Maestro Riccardo Muti’s concerts, the fall season will mark the arrival of violinist Hilary Hahn, visits by many guest conductors and artists, plus a vast and varied lineup under the Symphony Center Presents banner. Here’s what else to expect.

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Marin Alsop (Credit: Patrick Gibson)

Ravinia Festival just announced a major new hire, and she comes with an amazing pedigree: conductor Marin Alsop was mentored by Leonard Bernstein. 

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Ravinia’s production of “Candide (or Optimism).” (Credit: Patrick Gipson / Ravinia Festival)

This was an exceedingly elaborate production for what was a one-night-only event, and it brought together performers fully at ease with the show’s demonically difficult score and wildly witty lyrics.

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Sting performs at the Ravinia Festival Pavilion as part of his “My Songs Tour.” (Ravinia Festival / Patrick Gipson)

An impeccable set of iconic songs by the 17-time Grammy Award winner before a crowd of 16,000 at the Ravinia Festival suggested why he has remained such an enduring musical artist for more than four decades.

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(Credit: Ravinia Festival / Justin Piotrowski)

In addition to the beauty of the music, there was the enduring thought that the very best way to ease the current East-West tensions would be to send the politicians on both sides packing and let the musicians take over the job.

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(Ravinia Festival / Russel Jenkins)

Rachmanioff’s “Piano Concerto No. 3” is awash in ravishing melodies and virtuosic thrills, and Denis Matsuev brought such volcanic power, exquisite lyricism and absolute fluidity to the fiendishly demanding work that it felt as if he himself were writing the demonic piece on the spot. 

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(Credit: Ravinia Festival / Patrick Gipson)

The widely celebrated 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein is now in the midst of a grand-scale finale as the Ravinia Festival moves through its second summer of programs devoted to all aspects of his legacy.

A roundup of recent concerts from the Ravinia Festival

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A scene from “Mass” (Russell Jenkins / Ravinia Festival)

As visitors to the Ravinia Festival well know, the picnics on the grass staged there tend to be legendary feasts. But it is the musical feasts that are the real food for thought.

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James Levine in 2013 (Ralph Daily / Flickr)

An extensive investigation found evidence the revered conductor, who was for years associated with the Ravinia Festival and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, committed sexual abuse and harassment, the New York Times reports.

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An event combining rousing orchestral music with high-definition NASA footage of the cosmos is coming to Ravinia Festival in Highland Park this week.

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Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman joins us with a sneak peek at the 2014 season. Read more about the concert season.

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Seth Goldberg

When he was a baby, doctors said he might never speak or even sit up. But Seth Goldberg, who has profound hearing loss and is developmentally disabled, performed with Josh Groban this summer at Ravinia.