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Grant Park Music Festival kicks off 2024 season at Pritzker Pavilion

Grant Park Music Festival opens for season at Pritzker Pavilion
Grant Park Music Festival opens for season at Pritzker Pavilion 00:56

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The sweet sounds of the orchestra filled the Pritzker Pavilion and Great Lawn at Millennium Park Wednesday evening, as the Grant Park Music Festival began for the season.

The festival also celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.

CBS 2's Irika Sargent was the narrator for the first night of the season—which featured "Masquerade" by Anna Clyne, a cello concerto by Antonin Dvořák, and "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" by Benjamin Britten.

Britten wrote "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" at the request of the British Ministry of Education for use in an educational film, and it premiered in concert in Liverpool, England in 1946, according to Brittanica. Britten's theme in the work is inspired by baroque composer Henry Purcell's rondeau from "Abdelazer," according to the encyclopedia.

Carlos Kalmar, who has been the principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival since 2000, conducted Wednesday night. Alban Gerhardt appeared on cello.

On Friday and Sunday night, violinist Christian Tetzlaff will play Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto, and a performance of Gustav Holst's "The Cloud Messenger" is also on tap.

On Wednesday, June 19, soprano Karen Slack will perform "Songs of Freedom"—including Margaret Bonds' "The Montgomery Variations," Jessie Montgomery's "Five Freedom Songs," and two Beethoven pieces. On Friday, June 21, pianist Garrick Ohlsson will perform a piano concerto by Robert Schumann.

Also among the highlights this year are an Independence Day Salute on July 4th featuring patriotic anthems and Broadway classics, and on Friday, July 19, a tribute to the music of film composer John Williams featuring guest conductor Anthony Parnther.

On Saturday, July 20, Parnther will be conducting the orchestra again—this time accompanied by vocals from Common, making a special appearance.

On Friday, July 26, and Saturday, July 27, Eric Jacobsen conducts for a performance of the circuslike bombast and majesty of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's 1888 musical interpretation of Arabian Nights, "Scheherezade."

On Wednesday, July 31, conductor Lucas Waldin is joined by vocalists LaKisha Jones, Chloe Lowery, and Dan Domenech for "Broadway Rocks." This event features not so much Broadway classics as pop classics that have appeared in famous musicals, from The Who's "Pinball Wizard" to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" to Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." 

In addition to these and several other performances at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, concerts will also be held this summer at the South Shore Cultural Center, the Columbus Park Refectory on the West Side, the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, and Lake Shore Park in Streeterville.

This year's Grant Park Music Festival features 10 weeks of performances, through Aug. 17.

This will be Kalmar's final season as conductor.

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