Yesterday morning I heard a woman at a crosswalk say to her friend, “Why is it that in winter, in Chicago, every day feels like a Monday?”
I could not help but cringe. It was at that moment I realised that Making Chicago Home needed to kick back into high gear. With all of the fun, amazing and unique things happening around our fair city, we have no one (and nothing!) to blame but ourselves if we are not having a great time!
When I want to kick the blues, I turn to something that always makes me feel better: music.
Yesterday I had the pleasure to shake off the chilly, rainy weather and park my tush in Symphony Center to hear the Chicago Sinfonietta present A Dream Unfolds, their annual tribute concert to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The concert opened with pieces by Ulysses Kay (Theater Set) and George Walker (Lyric for Strings), both conducted by Music Director Paul Freeman.
The real magic of the evening was kicked off by Reginald Robinson’s Concerto for a Genius, made up of four movements: Mr. Murphy’s Blues, Janet, Ansaar and The 19th Galaxy.
Robinson creates music that makes you want to flirt with someone you really love. His fusion of classical, jazz, blues and ragtime make his compositions expressive, inspired and intelligent: he had everyone in the audience tapping their feet and bobbing their heads. Even the usually restrained and composed violinists were gently swaying and had huge smiles on their faces!
My personal favourite, Mr. Murphy’s Blues, sounded like two lovers dancing playfully around the kitchen while making dinner. The beginning was classically calculated and started slowly and quietly, progressing into a fuller, richer sound. Robinson then threw in elements of ragtime and blues, creating something flirty and downright sexy. Just when you think Symphony Center had transformed into a bar, Robinson tosses you right back in the heavy classical roots, making his concerto…genius!
The night would not have been complete without George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Concert Version), where we were entertained with the gorgeous voices of Soprano Lisa Daltrius (LOVED her!!), Baritone Donnie Ray Albert, Tenor Chauncey Packer and the Chicago Community Chorus.
Maestro Freeman ended the night by leading the orchestra, singers and all of the audience members in a rousing sing-a-long of We Shall Overcome. It was beautiful to see everyone holding hands, singing and swaying with the music while celebrating the life of MLK and how far our society has come, together.
It’s little things like this that really help to shake off those winter blues and be a part of something bigger than yourself: A diverse Chicago community that comes together over local music that celebrates something great!
And while you might have to wait until the warmer months to pack a picnic lunch and once again enjoy free concerts at the Pritzker Pavillion, there are plenty of rockin’ venues around the city packing their schedules with great local bands.