By Philip Vidal
Poet T.S. Eliot called April the cruelest month, but I disagree. April is a transitional time, with a focus on renewal. And this year, Chicago’s cultural scene has been reborn.
Kicking off April! Daryl Hall and the Daryl’s House Band, with special guest Todd Rundgren, perform at the Auditorium Theatre. Photo by Live Nation.
An incredibly wide variety of music genres are scheduled this month. April opens with a blast from the past. Daryl Hall and the Daryl’s House Band, with special guest Todd Rundgren, perform at the Auditorium Theatre on April 1. The following evening, April 2, is a celebration of classical music. The Women’s Board of the Chicago Symphony Association and Northern Trust present the Symphony Ball — a concert at Orchestra Hall featuring mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, with Carlo Muti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is followed by a gala at the Four Seasons Chicago.
A night under the stars! The Spektral Quartet perform “Enigma” at the Adler Planetarium 360-defree theater, April 7-8. Photo by Spektral Quartet.
Chicago-based Spektral Quartet performs “Enigma” on April 7-8 in the Adler Planetarium’s terrific 360-degree theater in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO. The multi-media event combines Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s music and Sigurður Guðjónsson’s videos.
The songs from Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Chicago native Benny Goodman are some of the Big Band tunes on the program for Chicago a cappella’s “Swing, Swing, Swing: Music of the Big Band Era” concerts on April 8 (Oak Park), 9 (Evanston), 22 (Naperville) and 24 (Chicago). The concert can also be enjoyed as a live virtual event on May 12.
Making her Chicago debut at the Auditorium Theatre, Renée Elise Goldsberry performs at one-night only special event, April 9. Photo by Auditorium Theatre.
Pop, soul and Broadway classics are just a few of the musical genres the Grammy® and Tony® award-winning star of “Hamilton” Renée Elise Goldsberry performs in her Chicago debut at the Auditorium Theatre on April 9.
Billy Prine & The Prine Time Band celebrate the work of Chicago legend John Prine at City Winery Chicago, April 13. Photo by City Winery Chicago.
Composer Arooj Aftab is nominated for two Grammys®: Best New Artist and Best Global Music Performance. Her work defies musical categorization. She makes her Chicago debut April 11 at Constellation. If you enjoy folk music, celebrate the work of Chicago legend John Prine at the “Billy Prine & The Prine Time Band – Songs of John Prine” concert at City Winery Chicago on April 13. Former Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist and singer Lindsey Buckingham performs at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts on April 21. Then AXPONA, Audio Expo North America, runs April 22-24 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, and not only has the latest audio equipment, but includes live music. There is a Friday Night Blues Night on April 22.
Wilco starts their “Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 2022: We are Breaking Your Heart” tour in their hometown at the Auditorium Theatre April 22-24. The Newberry Concert’s final presentation of their 35th season is “Four Queens and a Joker,” featuring two 17th and 18th century works for four sopranos, on April 23 in Hyde Park, and April 24 in Evanston. Chicago Opera Theatre presents the world premiere of Errollyn Wallen’s “Quamino’s Map” about a freed slave in 18th century London on April 23, 29 and May 1 at the Studebaker Theater. Apropos of the season, Porchlight Music Theatre presents “Spring Awakening” from April 23-May 29 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.
Welcoming a new era of theatre-making at Steppenwolf Theatre is “Seagull,” April 28-June 12. Photo by Steppenwolf Theatre.
Watching the film “Drive My Car” renewed appreciation for the works of Anton Chekov. Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” plays an important part in this film that won the Best Motion Picture Non-English Language prize at the Golden Globe Awards®. Steppenwolf Theatre presents “Seagull,” an adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” in their new Ensemble Theater April 28-June 12. Chicago Shakespeare Theatre returns to in-person shows with William Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well” April 22-May 29. Shattered Globe Theatre presents Chicago playwright Joel Drake Johnson’s “Rasheeda Speaking” about workplace racism at Theater Wit April 22-June 4. The Chicago premiere of Alesha Harris’ “What to Send Up When it Goes Down,” jointly presented by Congo Square Theatre Company, GRAY Chicago and the Theaster Gates Rebuild Foundation, will be performed at two locations: GRAY Chicago March 31-April 16, and Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Art Bank April 21-May 1.
Back in person! EXPO CHICAGO returns to bring 140 exhibitors from 25 countries at Navy Pier. Photo by EXPO CHICAGO.
Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates’ “Serpentine Pavilion 2022: Black Chapel” is on view in London from June 10-October 16. A conversation on April 8 with Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director at the Serpentine Galleries of London and founding members of AFRICOBRA is just one of the many programs during EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, at Navy Pier, April 7-10, which brings 140 exhibitors from 25 countries to Chicago. I look forward to attending the EXPO this year in-person. Chicago and Berlin-based artist Julia Phillips is one of the participants at the Venice Biennale, described as the world’s largest art exhibition, April 23-November 27. The “Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art” exhibition opened March 24 at the at 21c Museum Hotel Chicago.
The pop stars of 17th, 18th and 19th century France were its painters. The theme for this year’s Alliance Française de Chicago’s Symposium on the Arts of France is “Les Influenceurs: Les Peintres Française.” The Alliance has an impressive lineup of speakers. Rebecca Long, the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Associate Curator of painting and sculpture of Europe at the Art Institute of Chicago, presents “Caravaggio’s French Friends” on April 13. On May 18, Alicia Caticha, Assistant Professor of the Department of Art History at Northwestern University, presents “Les Influenceuses: The Art and Fashion of Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.” Gloria Groom, Chair and Mary and David Winton Green Curator of painting and sculpture of Europe at the Art Institute of Chicago, presents “Cézanne: Truth in Art” on June 8. Organized with the Tate Modern, London, the Art Institute of Chicago’s upcoming “Cézanne” exhibition – curated by our own Gloria Groom and Caitlin Haskell of the Art Institute of Chicago and curators from the Tate Modern — runs May 15-September 5. Sure to be a blockbuster, it’s the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States in twenty-five years, and the first Cezanne exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in more than seventy years.
Back for the 6th annual One of a Kind Spring Show+Sale Chicago, artists and designers come together for a unique shopping event. Photo by One of a Kind Show.
The Chicago Architecture Center mounts its biggest exhibition, “Energy Revolution,” April 9-October 17, which presents options to achieve a carbon-free environment. Once the biggest building in the world, the Merchandise Mart, now rebranded as theMART, plays host to the 6th annual One of a Kind Spring Show+Sale Chicago, which displays the works of more than 300 artists, artisans and designers, April 29-May 1. The huge façade of theMART is the setting for video projections: Art on theMART spring programming runs April 9-June 29. The themes this season are climate change and a celebration of 2022 – Year of Chicago Dance.
See a dance performance this month in-person. Giordano Dance Chicago returns to the Harris Theater and kicks off their 59th season spring series on April 1 and 2 with works including the world premiere of Autumn Eckman’s “Retroverse.” Mandala South Asian Performing Arts presents contemporary dance pieces at their Choreographers Showcase at the Chicago History Museum on April 17. The Joffrey Ballet Chicago presents a double-bill, “Serenade & Of Mice and Men:” the Joffrey premiere of George Balanchine’s “Serenade” and the world premiere of Cathy Marston’s “Of Mice and Men” at the Lyric Opera House, April 27-May 8.
On April 5, as part of the Midwest Film Festival, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents Michael Glover Smith’s family comedy/drama “Relative” set in a Victorian home in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. The 38th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival will be a hybrid event this year: in-person at the Landmark Century Centre, streaming and at drive-in shows at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen, April 21-May 1. The Chicago Humanities Festival presents An Evening with Molly Shannon and Tim Meadows on April 13 at the Harris Theater. Shannon, in conversation with her fellow Saturday Night Live alum Meadows talks about her memoir “Hello, Molly!”. Take the sting out of tax-day on April 15 and head to the Auditorium Theatre to hear humorist Fran Lebowitz who will be interviewed by Greta Johnsen.
The inaugural Pup Crawl and Cat Walk benefiting PAWS Chicago will take place April 1. Photo by River North Design District.
I was so sad to read about the passing of Peter Fasseas, co-founder of PAWS Chicago, one of the nation’s largest no-kill animal shelters. Honor his legacy by attending the River North Design District’s inaugural Pup Crawl & Cat Walk benefiting PAWS Chicago on April 1. Actor and author Nick Offerman is the keynote speaker at the Illinois Conservation Foundation’s Outdoor Hall of Fame Gala (virtual) on April 6. Frederick Law Olmsted was a landscape architect and an early conservationist. He designed New York City’s Central Park. His legacy in the Chicago area includes Jackson Park, Washington Park, and Riverside. Visit Olmsted200 for more information and events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Olmsted’s birth.
I’m looking forward to learning more about Chicago history by watching the new season of WTTW’s “Chicago Stories.” The episodes this month include stories about Chicago’s first female mayor, the first and oldest Mexican-American parish, Chicago as a center for advertising and meatpacking, and two Loop disasters. One of the disasters, the Great Chicago Flood, was thirty years ago this month – and I remember it as if it occurred yesterday.
April is certainly not the cruelest month as T.S. Eliot said, particularly as April 1 marks the end of Chicago’s winter overnight parking ban. And then there are the celebrations of Passover and Easter, and all they signify. And, of course, the Cubs opening day is April 7, and the White Sox open on April 8.
Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change. Please stay healthy and safe and keep up with the latest COVID-19 information, protocols, mandates and guidelines.