Ravinia festival’s new “immersive experience” aims to build audiences for classical music

Posted on: March 15, 2019

“The most buzzed-about attraction at the Ravinia Festival this summer may not be the stars performing on its Pavilion stage,” writes Howard Reich in Thursday’s (3/14) Chicago Tribune. “Instead, eyes and ears may be focused on the new RaviniaMusicBox Experience Center, a 9,500-square-foot edifice billed as an ‘immersive-experience’ theater with a museum gallery space. Scheduled to open in July, the Experience Center will usher visitors into a ‘preview space’ with interactive screens. That leads into a 65-seat, wrap-around theater offering a ‘4D experience,’ according to the festival…. Visitors will walk through a gallery show, this year focusing on the Grammy Museum’s ‘Leonard Bernstein at 100’ exhibit. Admission will be free to Ravinia visitors, though tickets will be required so the festival can regulate traffic flow. So what is Ravinia trying to accomplish here? ‘The driving motivation was the desire to take advantage of Ravinia’s attributes to try to build our classical audience,’ says Ravinia president and CEO Welz Kauffman. ‘That is, in a nutshell, what is going on—after almost a decade of studies and research.… The motivation is to have a kind of bump-into-it experience for the three-quarters of our audience that comes for something other than classical.”

Posted March 15, 2019

In photo: A rendering of the new RaviniaMusicBox Experience Center, set to open in July at the Ravinia Festival