When the season of free concerts presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) kicks off at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, music fans will want to return more than “Once” including on June 10 when Irish singer/songwriter/guitarist Glen Hansard headlines that evening for Downtown Sound, the ten-week Monday evening series that runs from May 27 to July 29. All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m.
The performance, An Evening with Glen Hansard, features the Irish singer-songwriter, Lisa Hannigan and members of Hansard’s former band, The Frames. Hansard’s original song, “Falling Slowly”, for the movie “Once” earned him an Oscar®.
The Grammy® Award winning Carolina Chocolate Drops certainly demonstrates the influence of its regional Piedmont background with fiddle and banjo-based music, but to merely call the group bluegrass would ignore the band’s constant evolution as members seek to highlight the central role African-Americans have played in shaping our nation’s popular music. Their performance is June 24.
The Los Angeles-based band, Dawes, performing on July 8, features singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith, his brother Griffin on drums, keyboardists Tay Strathairn and bassist Wylie Gelber. While the band recorded its latest release Stories Don’t End in North Carolina, their Laurel Canyon sound is still distinctive.
Downtown Sound is sponsored in part by Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat Ale and 93XRT.
Returning this summer season is Loops & Variations, a music series launched in 2012 that features new music mixed with electronica. On opening night, June 13, Falty DL will turn the Pritzker Pavilion’s Great Lawn into a dance floor with his unique style of abstractions and abrupt changes. His work encompasses intelligent dance music, drum’n’bass, hardcore techno, house, garage and dubstep, but he presents that combination in his own style.
Other performers include Matmos on June 27, a duo creating music from the most unusual sources, and crowd favorite and electronic musician Dan Deacon on July 11.
Loops & Variations is held on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. beginning June 13, June 27, July 4, July 11 (at a special time: 8 p.m.) and July 18. (Thursday, June 20 will be the opening night of the 28th Chicago Gospel Music Festival.)
A special Wednesday night of Loops & Variations will be August 28 featuring eighth blackbird with Glenn Kotche. Concert begins at 6:30 p.m. with Leslie Flanigan.
Then on July 25, jazz music takes center stages with Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz for six consecutive Thursday evenings culminating in the August 29 performance which simultaneously kicks off the 35th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival. The music series is programmed in partnership with Jazz Institute of Chicago and with the support of the Chicago Community Trust.
This summer’s season of Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz will be dedicated to the late Helen Doria, the first Executive Director at Millennium Park, who conceived and launched the series in the summer of 2005.
Back to the scene of her triumphant success of last year’s Made in Chicago finale, “A Songbook Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald,” is vocalist/songwriter and Chicagoan Dee Alexander. She has earned worldwide notoriety for her vocal tributes to artists such as Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Dinah Washington, but this evening, she switches gears and genders. Paying tribute to two of the biggest influences in American Music, Alexander’s performance is titled, Dee Alexander’s Funkin’ with Acoustic Soul: Tribute to James Brown and Jimi Hendrix.”
The tribute performances continue on August 15 when drummer, composer and bandleader Dana Hall celebrates the work of one of Chicago’s jazz piano innovators, Andrew Hill, in an evening titled, The Andrew Hill Project with Black Fire.
The Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz finale on August 29 will also open the Chicago Jazz Festival in style with a celebration of Jack DeJohnette’s 70th birthday. DeJohnette leads a Special Edition Chicago band featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, Larry Gray, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill for a once-in-a-lifetime reunion.
“Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s most extraordinary venues, a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design and art,” said Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “This summer, the Park provides an amazing backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs including concerts, exhibitions, tours and family activities.”
Other free events in Millennium Park this summer include:
Legends, Myths and Truths: Jun Kaneko, Boeing Galleries, April 12 - November 3
As a pioneer in the field of monumental ceramic sculpture, Jun Kaneko has played with scale and proportion. This installation represents the artist’s past and present artistic practices. Works in the South Boeing Galleries feature Kaneko’s signature Dangos (meaning “rounded form” or “dumpling” in Japanese).
The North Boeing Gallery features a new body of work by Kaneko, drawing upon the myths and legends of the Tanuki figure. From ancient times, the Japanese have expressed the Tanuki in a variety of ways, for it is considered to be a trickster who causes trouble and mayhem in both the human and supernatural worlds. The exhibit is co-presented by DCASE and Millennium Park, Inc., and is sponsored by The Boeing Company, with support from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
Tours of the Lurie Garden, May 5 - September 22 (No tours on May 12)
Guided walks in the Lurie Garden take place on Fridays and Sundays. Learn about the Garden’s design, its plant life and how this applies to your home garden.
Dinosaur Petting Zoo, [Location TBD], May 25 - 27
Dinosaurs come to life in a fun, educational and imaginative performance. Dinosaur Petting Zoo™ encourages interaction for kids and adults. Audiences can feed, water and care for these puppet-like, prehistoric marvels. This event is suitable for children 5+.
30th Annual Chicago Blues Festival Opening Night Concert, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, June 6
A special Thursday evening concert will kick off this milestone Chicago Blues Festival with Shemekia Copeland (crowned the “new” Queen of the Blues in 2011) headlining the evening joined by special guest, blues guitar prodigy and Buddy Guy collaborator, Quinn Sullivan. The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with openers Blues Kids of America followed by Jamiah on Fire & The Red Machine.
Millennium Park Workouts, Great Lawn, June 8 - August 31
Participate in energizing workouts on the Great Lawn. Supported by McDonald’s® and presented by the DCASE, these free workout sessions will be held from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Workouts are 45 minutes long with classes in Tai Chi at 7 a.m., Yoga at 8 a.m., Pilates at 9 a.m. and Zumba®, a Latin-inspired calorie-burning dance fitness party, beginning at 10 a.m.
Family Fun Festival, Chase Promenade North, June 10 - August 18
The Family Fun Festival presented by Target returns offering interactive activities, arts and crafts and games for kids of all ages. Every day includes Wiggleworms® at 10 a.m., when instructors from the Old Town School of Folk Music lead young children in a fun-filled sing-along and a reading circle at 11 a.m.
Bike Chicago Week, Cloud Gate, June 10-14
Celebrate Chicago’s commitment to being the best big city for bicycling. Bike Week includes spin classes at Cloud Gate and a bike-related movie night at the Pritzker Pavilion.
The 79th Season of the Grant Park Music Festival, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, June 12 - August 17
Highlights of the season are the Chicago premiere of Qigang Chen’s evocative Iris dévoilée, a work that blends Eastern and Western musical traditions, showcasing Chinese singers Xiaoduo Chen and Meng Meng, and featuring the Chinese instruments erhu, pipa and zheng along with the Grant Park Orchestra.
The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus will commemorate the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten with two performances of his powerful masterwork, “War Requiem”, and the Festival will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s seminal piece, “The Rite of Spring” with two performances on closing weekend. For the complete schedule, visit grantparkmusicfestival.com.
Chicago Gospel Music Festival opening night, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, June 20
This year’s festival begins with a Chicago Gospel Choir Competition! Choirs from across the City will compete to win a prime performance slot on the main stage Saturday night at the Festival’s new home in Ellis Park. Choirs interested in participating will find more information on the festival website, chicagogospelmusicfestival.us
Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue, bordered by Randolph St. to the north, Columbus Dr. to the east and Monroe St. to the south. Convenient parking is located in the Millennium Park Garage (entrance on Columbus at Monroe or Randolph), Millennium Lakeside and Grant Park North.
For the latest Millennium Park news and events, visit millenniumpark.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, @Millennium_Park.
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