What are the arts for?

New Yorkers may be welcoming the return of Broadway, but residents of Oak Park and River Forest have good reason to celebrate the return of the performing arts here. Whether your heart is beating for Beethoven, your ears aching for the opera, or your craving for drama, a live performance will deliver.

The Symphony of Oak Park & ​​River Forest has scheduled a full season, which will open on October 24, returning to their pre-pandemic location, the Concordia University Chapel in Chicago in River Forest, with “Celebrate Beethoven “. Concert lovers also have a virtual option. The Symphony has found the pandemic protocols they adopted to be beneficial to the orchestra. The board, led by president and symphonic pianist David Leehey, who is also a doctor at Hines VA and Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, decided to require proof of vaccination for all orchestra members and the public.

“Loyola was the first major Chicago-area hospital to mandate vaccination as a condition of employment,” Leehey said. “The VA subsequently became the first government agency to do this as well. … Our Symphony Board of Directors thought it was right that we go with the flow.

Many musicians “were relieved that we made vaccination mandatory,” Leehey said. “I think we attracted our eight new string players, at least in part, because of this policy.” Wind instrumentalists also applied, but their applications are on file due to lack of space in the orchestra at this time.

In addition to building the orchestra, the Symphony has more to celebrate as it launches its season, including a new logo chosen through a design competition; Music director Jay Friedman is celebrating his 25th birthday and this is the orchestra’s 90th season.

The lineup for this season includes music and several soloists originally planned “as part of our 2019-2020 season shortened by COVID or were planned for our 2020-2021 season which did not take place at all,” said Leehey . Concerts continue in December, February and March.

A choral and orchestral concert and biennial fundraiser held at the Symphony Center, which were canceled in 2020, are still pending.

“We had initially hoped to reschedule our COVID-canceled Symphony Center concert originally scheduled for April 2020 for next spring, but we had to abandon those plans as many conductors were understandably unable to engage in a choral program with so much. uncertainty on the horizon, ”Leehey said. “We still keep open the possibility of a choral concert performed locally next spring. We hope that will happen, but no one knows at this point. “

Singing on a smaller scale, with soloists or small groups, is however possible.

19th century club

Baritone Bill McMurray at the Nineteenth Century Club on October 4th | Provided

The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association (NCCA) returns to in-person programming this fall after providing a full range of virtual programming during the pandemic. Kicking off, “Lullaby of Broadway,” brings baritones Evan Bravos and Bill McMurray to the Nineteenth Century Club stage in their Grand Ballroom on October 4th.

Diane Moses, NCCA board member and music president, said Bravos, who had just returned from performing in Europe, “could sing anything.” The NCCA offers cultural and educational programs every Monday afternoon from October to mid-May, and among these are six other musical performances in person, including jazz, the three tenors (all from the choir lyrical opera) and Gershwin- and Sinatra- inspired performances. October and March dates will be available virtually.

“It will be wonderful to have an audience again,” said Moses. “Music keeps us human.”

Baritone Evan Bravos at the Nineteenth Century Club on October 4th | Provided

NCCA is also bringing back Henry Fogel Presents as an in-person evening program that includes music discussions and chat time with artists. On October 20, soprano Jonita Lattimore and tenor Alan Glassman perform live at the Nineteenth. Pianist Ann Chang is presented in March.

COVID-19 protocols for all NCCA programs include social distancing seats and masks. The NCCA plans to announce and follow Oak Park guidelines throughout the season.

Sundays with Beethoven

Beethoven’s Church returned to monthly in-person performances. While some recent concerts have been given in individual outdoor spaces in River Forest, a more permanent location is being sought, ideally by February, according to Bradley Schuller, artistic director. On October 17, violinist Cara Schlecker and pianist Paul Dykstra will perform, and on November 21, soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg will perform with lutenist Joel Spears. Schuller said these concerts will take place in a “church or indoor space large enough to allow our audience to be socially distant.” Regardless of location, Beethoven’s Church follows CDC and Oak Park Health Department guidelines regarding COVID security measures.

On October 17, violinist Cara Schlecker and pianist Paul Dykstra, pictured here (left to right), will perform with Beethoven’s Church, Oak Park. | Supplied by Beethoven’s Church.

While soprano Christine Steyer is booked for January, Schuller waits to fill other months to “get a clearer picture of the direction of the Delta variant”. For the moment, Church of Beethoven does not offer virtual versions of these live performances. “If the sound quality was good enough, we would, but it’s hard to capture the true acoustic beauty of live music in a Zoom call,” Schuller said.

Hemingway Foundation

The Oak Park Ernest Hemingway Foundation (EHFOP) follows state and local mandates and guidelines and remains flexible in its hours. Fridays @ Hemingway (F @ M) kicked off last week with an outdoor performance by American singer-songwriter, guitarist and percussionist Mike Mangione at the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum. The October event is “Haunted Hemingway, Ghost Stories,” followed by the Ethan Philion Jazz Trio in November and illusionist Jeannette Andrews in December. Executive Director Keith Strom said they were ready to change the lineup, like going from “Haunted Hemingway” to virtual or canceling a performance if he wasn’t sure to do so in person due to a COVID peak.

The NCCA, Beethoven Church and EHFOP do not plan to verify vaccination cards. “I don’t think we would go into vaccine proof or testing unless it is required and guidelines are set for implementation,” Strom said.

While the EHFOP is working on a variety of programs for 2022, they are not rolling out any announcements yet. “Our Friday @ Hemingway series will continue, the timeline is to be determined, again based on pandemic results, restrictions etc as we just don’t want to expand all of these events and then cancel so we will have to maybe cover things up lightly. We have an outdoor option for some of them, ”Strom said.

Holiday Theater

Oak Park Festival Theater, like the Symphony of OP / RF, requires proof of vaccination for their next show, The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe, with premieres starting October 13 at Pleasant Home. “Due to the immersive nature of this show, there can be no exceptions. … Due to the lack of availability of COVID vaccines for ages 12 and under, unfortunately we will not be able to allow children 12 and under at this time. »Like all indoor locations, masks are mandatory. No other production has been announced for the season at this time.

Free readers

The Free Readers Ensemble has resumed presenting monthly in-person readings of plays at the Nineteenth Century Club. A full season through May is planned, starting with The love list October 17. Masks are mandatory for members of the public, while performers will not be masked but will be away from the crowd. All performers are fully vaccinated and they “respectfully ask” members of the public to get vaccinated as well, according to Paulette Cary, founding member and director of public relations. Public seats will be socially distanced. These free performances previously included coffee and cookies, which won’t be available this season.

And others

Chicago-based bands that perform regularly in the area are also making a comeback. Music of the Baroque scheduled their Holiday Brass and Choral concert at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest in December. And Chicago a cappella will be singing three programs at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park this season.

Performances for the 2021-2022 season

Oak Park & ​​River Forest Symphony
24 october, December 12, February 6, March 7
Season tickets “Vive les 90 ans” available
Concordia University Chapel in Chicago, 7400 Augusta, River Forest
More: symphonyoprf.org/2021-2022-saison

19th century charity association
Monday enrichment musical programming: October 4, November 8, December 13, February 14, March 14, April 4, May 2
Henry Fogel presents: October 20, March 23
19th Century Club, 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park
More: XIXème siècle.org

Beethoven Church
October 17, November 21, January 16
More: churchofbeethoven-oakpark.com/2021-season.html

Fridays @ Hemingway
October 15, November 19, December 10
Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum, 339 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park
More: hemingwaybirthplace.com/programs-events

Oak Park Festival Theater
The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe
Pleasant Home, 217 Home Ave., Oak Park
Wednesday to Sunday, October 13 to November 7
Find out more: oakparkfestival.com

Free Reader Set
Oct. 17, Nov. 21, Dec. 19, Jan. 16, Feb. 20, March 20, April 10. May 15
19th Century Club, 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park
Find out more: XIXème siècle.org /

Chicago a capella
December 12, February 19, April 8 *
Pilgrim Congregational, 460 Lake St., Oak Park
Subscriptions available
More: chicagoacappella.org/tickets

Baroque music
December 16
Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St., River Forest
More: baroque.org

* also available virtually

Michelle dybal
Artistic editor

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