Chicago's Park District enjoys its prime time in the summer months and a little world class entertainment never hurt to highlight all our parks have to offer. Sprawling Grant Park is most commonly known as the home to Buckingham Fountain, Lollapalooza and a scenic lakeside view but this year it also welcomes back the Grant Park Music Festival for its 80th season.
Thirty free concerts featuring international talent, including the Grammy Award-nominated Grant Park Orchestra and the Grant Park Chorus, will hit the stage at the Jay Prizker Pavilion on Wednesday and Friday evenings this summer from June 11 to August 16.
The 2014 season's highlights include:
- A Tchaikovsky Extravaganza to celebrate the season's opening on Wednesday, June 11. The Grant Park Orchestra led by principal conductor Carlos Kalmar joined by pianist Natasha Paremski will perform famed Russian conductor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Francesca da Rimini. The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m.
- Viva Mexico!, a celebration of the Latin American country's mariachi music. The GPO will be joined on stage by Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. You'll definitely be feeling the rhythm at this one. This concert begins at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25.
- Kick off the 4th of July weekend surrounded by beautiful downtown Chicago and world class music at the festival's Independence Day Salute on Friday, July 4, at 6:30 p.m. The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus will perform and evening of patriot music.
- Chicago is built on a history of jazz music and everyone knows that Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are two of the biggest names the genre has ever produced. On Wednesday, July 9, the Grant Park Music Festival pays tribute to Fitzgerald, Armstrong and "all that jazz" with performances from the Grant Park Orchestra with guest conduction Jeff Tyzik, vocalist Marva Hicks and trumpet player Bryon Stripling. Musical selections include the work of Gershwin, Berlin, Waller and more. The concert will begin at 8 p.m.
- George Fenton has made waves around the world with his symphonic scores of acclaimed BBC/Discovery Channel documentaries Planet Earth and Frozen Planet and now he's bringing the live compositions to Grant Park on Wednesday, July 16. Fenton will guest conduct the Grant Park Orchestra amidst a live screening of the films. It al begins at 6:30 p.m.
- The Grant Park Music Festival celebrates Musical Thrills! on Friday, August 8. A look at some of the more dynamic musical compositions performances will include everything from Mozart to the theme to Mission Impossible led by guest conductor Andrew Grams and narrator Damon Gupton. The concert begins at 6:30 p.m.
- Perhaps the most visually stunning performance of the entire festival, this year the world premiere of The Legend of the Northern Lights comes to Grant Park. Inspired by a children's book about the aurora borealis, the film by Jose Francisco Salgado is paired with a score by Christopher Theofanidis. Theofanidis will join the GPO as guest conductor to bring the music to life. Back-to-back performances will be held on Friday, August 8, and Saturday, August 9. Both shows will start at 7:30 p.m.
All Grant Park Music Festival performances are free and open to the public. Seating is first come, first serve. Season membership passes are available for $157 guaranteeing premium seating, parking and restaurant discounts.