Although Mayor Anton Cermak had presented a one-time-only series of summer concerts in 1931, it was Chicago Federation of Musicians president James C. Petrillo who inaugurated a regular series in 1935, the year following the World’s Fair. This special gala concert recreates the very first program ever presented back on July 1, 1935, the first concert of the Grant Park Music Festival, showing how much music tastes have changed across nearly three-quarters of a century. Wagner is represented by the “Arrival of the Guests at the Wartburg” from “Tannhäuser,” an excerpt rarely heard today, and there are a couple of pieces still popular, such as Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and Johann Strauss II’s “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.” But most of this repertoire is long forgotten, including music by Thomas, Alfven, Glazunov, Powell, German and Meacham. Principal conductor Carlos Kalmar conducts. (Dennis Polkow)
July 1, Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, (312)742-7638, 8pm. Free.
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org