A little night music — under the stars, surrounded by trees and performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — is made to order for summer nights. The second annual June Summer Concert Mini-Series takes place June 26, 27 and 28 at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
Three concerts are planned, and as last year, the first one will be a movie-themed concert.
The Arboretum’s outdoor venue can hold 4,500 with lawn chairs, blankets and picnics. There’s no pavilion seating as there is at the Ravinia Festival in Lake County where the CSO also performs.
But that gives the concertgoers at the Arboretum “better access to see the symphony,” said Jennifer GoodSmith, vice-president of marketing and communications for the Arboretum.
She attended all three concerts last summer, two of which were sold out.
“People were very attentive and very quiet and very involved with the music. You walked around and people were not talking and chatting in their groups, and they heard the concert well,” she said.
The CSO has been exploring ways to connect with audiences from DuPage County for a number of years, said Kevin Giglinto, the CSO’s vice president for strategy and special initiatives.
“We really weren’t getting enough penetration from DuPage County,” likely due to the long commute getting to the city,” he said. “Ravinia Festival in Highland Park where the CSO performs all summer, has a difficult time drawing from that region. It’s a hard commute downtown and a hard commute to the North Shore as well.”
The Arboretum concert series is reaching a new audience, he said. “Seventy-five percent of people who came to our concerts [at the Arboretum last summer] we didn’t have in our data base. One of the reasons we’re doing this whole exploration in DuPage County is that there’s clearly a commitment to music education in that region. There’s one high school that has five orchestras.”
Choosing the Arboretum for concerts made good sense, Giglinto said. “The Arboretum is a fantastic organization. It’s a world-class experience when people go there, and they have an infrastructure that supports performances. They’ve had experience doing it. We agreed to give it a go.”
Many talks later, and with a $250,000 grant from the JCS Fund of the DuPage Community Foundation, a partnership was formed with the first series held last June.
“This is an opportunity to bring two world-class brands together,” said GoodSmith. “That synergy really allows us both to complement the work that we do. We have a beautiful environment and they have beautiful music.”
The Arboretum has held many large events, but, GoodSmith said “Bringing the symphony out here is a complicated process. They bring in the stage. They bring in the sound system, everything. It takes them about three days. It’s so fascinating to see. We spent a lot of time working through a lot of details, the best places to set up and provide facilities for the orchestra throughout the Arboretum as needed.”
With an outdoor concert, there’s always the fear of inclement weather, especially in an area with so many trees, GoodSmith said, adding last year the night of one of the concerts, major storms bypassed the Arboretum by three blocks.
“The Arboretum’s weather-tracking is phenomenal,” said Giglinto. “They had predictions beginning at 8 a.m. and they were able to communicate with patrons, if the concert had to be canceled.”
GoodSmith and Giglinto are hoping for good weather this season.
On Thursday, June 26, conductor Richard Kaufman leads the CSO in a program of excerpts from Academy Award-nominated films, including “The Magnificent Seven,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Godfather,” “The Natural,” “Forrest Gump,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Out of Africa” and many more.
The CSO’s performances on Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28, are led by Cristian Macelaru, and feature masterworks from familiar classical repertoire.
Tickets range in price from $40-$45. Parking is $10. Members get discounted prices and free parking. All seats are general admission lawn seats. For tickets, call 800-223-7114 or visit www.cso.org.Tags: Morton Arboretum