Ravinia Festival considers options for post-Conlon era

Posted on: July 23, 2015

“The Ravinia Festival isn’t rushing to name a successor to James Conlon, who begins his final concerts as Ravinia’s music director Wednesday night,” writes Wynne Delacoma in Sunday’s (7/19) Chicago Classical Review. “Ravinia chief Welz Kauffman is floating the idea that the venerable summer music festival may elect to go without a music director at all, for the first time in fifty years.” In 2007, “Conlon conducted 12 of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 17 concerts; this year he conducts just five of 16. Six of this summer’s CSO’s concerts feature movie music, Broadway or jazz. (Conlon was also closely involved in Ravinia’s increased emphasis on reaching audiences beyond its Highland Park campus and in music education, which the festival CEO wants to continue.)…. Said Kauffman, ‘Newbies coming to classical music … read about [conductors] like Susanna Mälkki or Mei-Ann Chen. There’s all this excitement around them. It’s not that audiences don’t want to see the same person on the podium, but they know that at Ravinia our time is short.’ … The Ojai Music Festival in California offers an alternative to consider for Ravinia, where a different music director oversees the festival’s offerings each season.… ‘I think we should explore that model,’ Kauffman said.”

Posted July 23, 2015