Rush Hour Concerts is offering a perfect way to end the work day with its 17th season of free chamber music concerts at St. James Cathedral. Running every Tuesday from June 6 through Aug. 30, each concert starts at 5:45 p.m. and lasts under an hour. Preceding each event will be a reception and curated conversation at 5:15 p.m.
Performers are established musicians and talented up-and-comers, including Grammy Award-winning Violinist Augustin Hadelich and local ensembles Lincoln Trio, Avalon String Quartet, Spektral Quartet, and Third Coast Percussion. Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will also perform, as will students from the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Center and Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute. Featured composers run the gamut, including Mozart, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Debussy and several modern and contemporary masters. The works of Janáček and Schumann will be performed on several occasions.
Highlight concerts include Brass Celebration on June 14, when Axiom Brass, joined by CSO Trumpeter Christopher Martin, will play Gabrieli’s Canzon Duodecimi Toni, Böhme’s Sextet and Lutosławski’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini. On July 12, the Spektral String Quartet and Pianist Daniel Schlosberg will perform Schumann’s magnificent Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44, my favorite work for this combination of instruments.
On the first day of summer Rush Hour Concerts sponsors Make Music Chicago, a one-day, free music festival taking place all over the city. Highlights include the Midwest premiere of Kevin James’ Guerrilla Fanfare, which will be performed by several local brass and percussion ensembles. This year June 21 falls on Tuesday, and that week’s concert at St. James Cathedral will showcase Violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Kuang-Hao Huang playing Stravinsky’s Divertimento and Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34.
Aficionados of contemporary music will enjoy several concerts, including two programs called “Here and Now.” On June 28, Third Coast Percussion will perform music by David Skidmore, Robert Dillon and Peter Martin. Then, on Aug. 23, there will be a preview of Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival of new music. The Ensemble Dal Niente and Fulcrum Point New Music Project will perform George Lewis’s Hexis and Mischa Zupko’s Occupy and Rising.
On Aug. 2, opera lovers will be treated to arias from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, sung by students from the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center.
Performance schedules and other information about Rush Hour Concerts and Make Music Chicago can be found at http://www.rushhour.org/programs/summer-concerts/.