Great futuristic design and a summer-long lineup of modern music make Millennium Park one of the most happening places for music fans living in or visiting Chicago. This downtown park features free live music every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from May through September.
“The Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is an amphitheater designed and built by Frank Gehry,” said Matt Nielson, deputy commissioner of cultural programming and operations for the city of Chicago. “It holds 1,000 people and was designed with a state-of-the-art sound system. The materials were all used to make it the best-possible-sounding venue for outdoor music. It was built for both music festivals and orchestras.”
The heart of the musical offerings during the summer is the Grant Park Music Festival, a two-month series of concerts performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. The series originally began in nearby Grant Park 79 years ago and moved to Millennium Park after the new amphitheater was constructed in 2004.
To complement the classical music series, the city brings in a series of indie pop and rock performers, jazz ensembles and world music acts to play in the park throughout the week.
“All of our programming starts at 6:30, and there are usually two bands that perform each night,” said Angel Ysaguirre, the city’s deputy commissioner for arts programming. “We pair electronic music and DJs with contemporary classical music. There’s also contemporary jazz that focuses on Chicago jazz composers.”
— www.millenniumpark.org —
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Just outside of Washington D.C., Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is the only national park dedicated to presenting the performing arts. The park service partners with the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts to put on a variety of musical and theatrical performances throughout the year, including outdoor concerts at the Filene Center.
“The venue is a beautiful oasis of green in an otherwise urban environment,” said Casey Schmidt, assistant director of group sales for the Wolf Trap Foundation. “You can see musical theater, symphony and pops, opera, dance, comedy and a wide variety of popular music styles such as rock, pop, indie, folk, blues, jazz, Motown and more.”
This summer’s lineup is already in place and will feature a number of top musical and theatrical acts. Highlights include an appearance by Bill Cosby; concerts by the Temptations, the Four Tops and a cappella group Straight No Chaser; and a live broadcast of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” Broadway hits “The Mikado” and “Rock of Ages” are on the docket, as are fine-arts performances by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Groups attending events at Wolf Trap will find plenty of amenities in addition to shows.
“We have an onsite restaurant called Ovations, where groups are happily accommodated,” Schmidt said. “You can also preorder picnics to pick up upon arrival, and we have private rental spaces available for preshow events.”
— www.wolftrap.org —