Alisa Weilerstein, left in gold gown, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are conducted by Joshua Weilerstein on Aug. 17, 2023, at the Ravinia Festival. (Emily Waler / Ravinia Festival)

For the second half of its Ravinia Festival concert this past Thursday the Chicago Symphony Orchestra delivered a bravura performance of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s extraordinary “Symphony No. 5” and it couldn’t have been more timely in subtle way.

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.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performs under the direction of Marin Alsop, Ravinia’s chief conductor, on July 30, 2022. (Courtesy of Ravinia)

Performed to breathtaking effect by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, along with the Chicago Children’s Choir, and a brilliant assemblage of instrumental and vocal soloists, the concert was superbly led by Marin Alsop, Ravinia’s chief conductor.

(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.

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.

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. 

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.”

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.

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. 

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.

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.

(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.

(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. 

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

A roundup of recent concerts from the 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.

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.