Chicago Symphony Orchestra All Ages Critic's Choice Free Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Sept. 27, 2 p.m. 2008

Conducted by Charles Dutoit in a terrific, accessible program, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra kicks off the annual Macy’s Day of Music at Symphony Center—eight hours of first-class performances, all for free. (Or ten hours, if you count the musicians who’ll start playing on the sidewalk at noon for the benefit of those waiting in line.) The orchestra’s theme this season is “Echoes of Nations,” and its selections today are all by composers who honored the music of their country or their people: Sibelius’s brief, brooding Finlandia, Lalo’s unabashedly romantic Symphonie Espagnole (a violin concerto with CSO concertmaster Robert Chen as soloist), Debussy’s elegant Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (which will showcase principal flutist Mathieu Dufour), and Ravel’s magnificent orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures From an Exhibition. Following the CSO on the Symphony Center’s main stage will be the Chicago Civic Orchestra, conducted by Cliff Colnot in a program of Dvorak (5 PM), and the Sea and Cake (8 PM); elsewhere in the building the day’s performers include Ella Jenkins, the Von Freeman Quintet, Reginald R. Robinson, and the Lonesome Organist. And across the street the Art Institute hosts its own free day of music, lectures, readings, gallery walks, and more. Visit cso.org/dayofmusic and artic.edu for detailed schedules. —Barbara Yaross

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