James Levine leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2” Saturday evening at the Ravinia Festival. (Photo: Russell Jenkins/Ravinia Festival)
WFMT will air the Ravinia Festival Women’s Board’s 50th Anniversary Gala Concert, which marked the long-awaited return to the Ravinia podium of renowned conductor James Levine, leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This one-time-only broadcast will take place on Monday, August 15 at 7:00 pmon 98.7 WFMT and can also be heard via live streaming at wfmt.com and via the WFMT mobile app.
Maestro Levine, who served as Ravinia Festival’s Music Director from 1973 to 1993, returned on July 23 to the Ravinia stage for the first time since he completed that directorship, to lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Duain Wolfe, director) in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony #2,Resurrection, the same work he conducted at his Ravinia debut when he stepped in as a last-minute replacement at the 1971 Gala. Featured soloists are soprano Ying Fang and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill.
In honor of this special broadcast, WFMT has proclaimed August 15 James Levine Day; the station will share recordings by the Maestro throughout the day leading up to the historic broadcast, and pay tribute to the Ravinia Festival Gala’s milestone anniversary. This is the first time in more than a decade that WFMT has aired a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance recorded at Ravinia.
Considered one of the most important American conductors ever, Levine, 72, has just stepped down from an unprecedented four-decade run as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera and has been named Music Director Emeritus.
About his return to Ravinia for this performance, Maestro Levine said, “Little did I know when I first came to Ravinia how important my time there would turn out to be, and the significant development it would stimulate in my artistic growth. With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, I felt as though we were an ideal match, each provoking the other to strive for the best. For more than 20 years it was my summer home, and I’ve looked forward to returning for a long time. This summer I conduct Mahler’s Second Symphony, the masterpiece of my debut at Ravinia 45 years ago.”
“We’re thrilled and proud to be able to bring what will surely be an historic broadcast to our audience, and thankful to Maestro Levine and the Ravinia Festival for this gift to Chicago’s entire classical music community,” said David Polk, WFMT’s Program Director.
“James Levine’s homecoming was such a significant triumph that we not only wanted a historical record of the profound performance of the Mahler Resurrection Symphony, but we also wanted as many people as possible to experience it. We thank our partners at WFMT for helping to make that possible,” said Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman.
This concert and broadcast were produced and underwritten by Ravinia Festival—Welz Kauffman, President and CEO—with special thanks to James Levine, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Karen Cargill, and Ying Fang. WFMT’s broadcast will be produced and hosted by Kerry Frumkin and engineered by Hudson Fair.