Concert Preview

Top classical concerts this spring by Doyle Armbrust

MARCH 25-26
The Grammy-winning ensemble presents its latest production, "Ghostlight," as part of its residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art. One element that sets these new-music dynamos apart is imaginative staging, and with the darker corners of ritual, vengeance and death explored through the lenses of such compositional VIPs as David Lang, Ted Hearne, Bryce Dessner and David T. Little, "Ghostlight" is poised to sell out.

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Top picks for the classical concerts this winter by Doyle Armbrust

Nov. 13
Those who love under-the-radar movie recommendations have their classical music equivalent this month with the obscenely skilled Arcanto Quartet. Though made up of established European heavyweights, the group hasn't yet broken through in the U.S. Bach's "Art of the Fugue," Schumann's String Quartet in A minor and Smetana's String Quartet No. 1 are on the bill for this "University of Chicago Presents" season highlight.

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Top classical music performances this fall (2015) by Doyle Armbrust

Sept. 6

Kids these days . . . are highly skilled, indomitable entrepreneurs, brewing up provocative set lists in nontraditional spaces. Chicago has exploded with such ensembles in the past decade, and the next batch has arrived, including enterprising groups such as Mocrep, which shares a bill with New York-based, hook-wrangling percussion trio Tigue in September. Mocrep is known for going deep on movement and performance art in its shows, so we're looking forward to some striking visuals in the band's dispatch of works by Jessie Marino and Carolyn Chen.

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Top classical music performances this summer (2015) by Doyle Armbrust

May 17

The preconcert announcement to “for the love of all that is holy silence your cellphone” won't apply to the four vocalists debuting iLophone, an iOS app designed by composer Levy Lorenzo for his new score, “Inside Voices.” We're chuffed that audience members will be able to download this pitch-bending instrument after the show, but the program, featuring Eliza Brown's site-specific musical theater number “Prospect and Refuge” and Monte Weber's illusory, lyrical jumbler “Cruel Anvil,” is what makes this season closer a prize ticket.

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Top classical music performances this spring (2015) by Doyle Armbrust

Through March 15

Easily the most captivating entry in Lyric Opera's 2014-15 season, Mieczyslaw Weinberg's "The Passenger" is a new opera—completed in 1968. It didn't receive its fully staged premiere until 2010, stymied as it was by an unsympathetic Soviet government during the composer's lifetime. The narrative centers on a looming encounter on a ship between a former SS overseer at Auschwitz and one of her former prisoners years after World War II's end. The jarring juxtaposition of the posh ocean liner and the concentration camp is visually arresting, and Weinberg's deft score stands to carry post-concert conversations long into the night. There are just three performances left.

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Holiday/winter 2014-15 cultural preview: Classical music by Doyle Armbrust

Nov. 15

Those lucky enough to have attended Ensemble Dal Niente's "The Party" in 2012 remember delectable edibles, succulent libations and a fluid concert format in which listeners could come or go as they pleased. Party 2014 at Jackson Junge Gallery features a program as brain-detonating as its predecessor with selections from top-shelf auditory instigators such as John Adams, Ted Hearne, Augusta Read Thomas, Beat Furrer, Franco Donatoni and George Lewis.

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