As the countdown to the Grant Park Music Festival’s seventy-fifth season anniversary winds down (see separate listing for July 1) and Taste of Chicago heats up, principal conductor Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra head indoors to the Harris Theater for a special concert celebrating American music from the decade of the opening of the Festival, the 1930s. The centerpiece of the concert is a rare complete performance of William Grant Still’s “Afro-American” Symphony No. 1, the first symphonic work written by an African-American composer. Still incorporated the same syncopated rhythm in the piece two years before that same rhythm was made famous by George Gershwin in his song, “I Got Rhythm.” Gershwin himself will be represented by excerpts from his 1931 show “Of Thee I Sing,” considered the first Broadway political satire and the inspiration for the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup.” Also on the program are William Schuman’s “American Festival Overture,” Samuel Barber’s “School for Scandal” Overture and Chicago composer Leo Sowerby’s “Prairie.” (Dennis Polkow)
June 26 (6:30pm) and June 27 (7:30pm) at Millennium Park’s Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, (312)742-7638. 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