About the Town in September



By Philip Vidal




In my first article for the inaugural October 2015 issue of this magazine, I said that I especially looked forward to the fall and it, not spring, seemed to me to be true season of renewal, with the start of the new school year, the opera, theater, and musical programming.  Apparently, Truman Capote felt the same way.  He said “Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”


The Music Institute of Chicago hosts Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Concertmaster Robert Chen and pianist Matthew Hagle at Nichols Concert Hall, September 29. Photo by Music Institute of Chicago.


Fall is upon us and it truly is a season of renewal.  Several music groups open their 2019/2020 seasons this month by celebrating Ludwig von Beethoven’s 250th birthday.   The Music Institute of Chicago hosts a concert at the Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston on September 29 with Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Concertmaster Robert Chen and pianist Matthew Hagle.  The Orion Ensemble’s first concert series of its 27th season starts September 29 (New England Congregational Church, Aurora), and continues October 2 (PianoForte Studios, Chicago) and October 6 (Nichols Hall, Evanston).


Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” his only opera, was the first opera I ever attended back in 1981.  When I was just out of college, friends of my parents invited me to their box at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.


The Women’s Board of Lyric Opera Chicago hosts a performance of “The Barber of Seville” for their opening night gala, September 28. Photo by Lyric Opera of Chicago.


Tis the season for galas and benefits. The Women’s Board of Lyric Opera Chicago’s opening night gala performance of “The Barber of Seville” is followed by the Opera Ball on September 28 at the Hilton Chicago.


When I am in River North I always make a detour to walk by the Driehaus Capital Management offices at 25 East Erie, formerly the 1886 Ransom Cable mansion, because cars from Richard Driehaus’s incredible collection are on display and visible from the street.  The cars change weekly. The Richard H. Driehaus Museum honors the Bulley family at its annual gala at the museum on September 12.  In addition to working on the restoration of the Nickerson Mansion, home of the Driehaus Museum, Bulley and Andrews construction team has a long and auspicious history in Chicago having been founded in 1891.


The Grant Park Music Festival Advocate for the Arts Awards Benefit honoring Robert J. Buford and William Blair & Company will be held on October 1 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The tagline for the Grant Park Music Festival is “We’re Classic Chicago,” not unlike the title of this magazine.


The Oriental Institute’s Centennial Gala takes place at University of Chicago Campus, September 14. Photo by Oriental Institute.


I love the “Father Brown” TV series based on G.K Chesterton’s novels.  In “The Curse of Amenhotep” Sir Raleigh Beresford, who has an Egyptian mummy in his English manor home, says that he’d like to donate it to the Oriental Institute (OI).  This world-famous research center and archaeology museum on the University of Chicago campus is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  I plan to attend the Oriental Institute’s Centennial Gala on September 14 at the University of Chicago Campus with David and Carlotta Maher, who have been staunch supporters of the OI.   In addition to several lectures and movie screenings, the OI will hold a free public centennial celebration at the museum on September 28.


EXPO CHICAGO runs September 19-22 at Navy Pier. Photo by EXPO CHICAGO and Cory Dewald.


EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, runs September 19-22 at Navy Pier.  The Museum of Contemporary Art’s eight annual Vernissage opening night benefit of EXPO CHICAGO is at Festival Hall, Navy Pier, on September 19.  Other exhibitions and events coincide with EXPO CHICAGO.  The first New Art Dealers Association “Chicago Invitational” contemporary art fair is at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel September 18-21.  The third Chicago Architecture Biennial with more than 80 contributors from 20 countries is at various locations throughout the city from September 19 to January 5.


In conjunction with the biennial, the Elmhurst Art Museum presents “McCormick House – Past, Present, Future,” September 14 through January 12, 2020.  It’s the first time ever the museum will show a full 1950s representation of its Mies van der Rohe 1952 McCormick House.   Concurrent with that exhibition is “What Came After: Figurative Painting in Chicago 1978-1998.


Artist Assaf Evron will install collages in the windows on the east side of the 900 N Lake Shore Drive building, one of Mies van der Rohe’s Esplanade Apartments, to coincide with the architecture biennial.  “Chicago Works: Assaf Evron,” currently at the Museum of Contemporary Art through February 16, 2020, includes works incorporating photographs of famous Chicago buildings such as the Monadnock Building.


The Renegade Craft Fair runs September 6-7 on Division between Damen and Ashland. Photo Renegade Craft.


In addition to EXPO CHICAGO, the Renegade Craft Fair is September 6-7 on Division between Damen and Ashland.  The 35th annual American Craft Exposition hosted by the North Shore Auxiliary is at the Chicago Botanic Garden on September 20-22.


Neighborhood art festivals are a great way to meet artists.  The 15th annual Lakeview East Festival of the Arts is September 14-15 at Belmont and Broadway.  The 17th annual Andersonville Arts Week + Fest is September 19-22 and culminates in the  Andersonville Arts Fest on September 21-22 at Clark and Winona.


The River North Design District Fall Gallery Walk & Open House runs September 6-7. Photo by River North Design District.


Another way to meet artists is to participate in an art walk or attend an opening reception.  The fifth annual River North Design District Fall Gallery Walk & Open House is September 6-7 where you can mingle with both artists and designers.   Stop by the opening reception for “Celebrating Forty Years” at Carl Hammer Gallery in River North on September 6, or the Survey 1 and Preview 9: A Boldness to Dare and Try exhibitions opening at the Chicago Artists Coalition that same evening.   The Ravenswood Art Walk Tour of Arts & Industry is September 14-15 on Ravenswood from Irving to Leland.  The West Town Art Walk is September 27-28 on Chicago Avenue between Milwaukee and Western.


“Autumn Song” by Yang Yanping. The Art Institute of Chicago exhibition “Expressive Ink: Paintings by Yang Yanping and Zeng Shanqing” runs through November 10. Photo by Yang Yanping.


I was honored to meet artist Yang Yanping last month at a reception for the opening of the “Expressive Ink: Paintings by Yang Yanping and Zeng Shanqing” exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The exhibition is the first time the work of Yanping and her husband, two acclaimed Chinese artists, is being shown in a major U.S. museum, through November 10.


Last year I met artist Samson Young.  I am very excited to see his new multimedia exhibition curated by Orianna Cacchione at the Smart Museum. “Samson Young – Silver Moon or Golden Star, Which Will You Buy of Me?” runs September 18-December 29.  Chicago’s 1933 Century of Progress Exposition inspired Samson Young and “Samson Young: World Fair Music” will feature music from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair as well as a discussion at Symphony Center on September 18.  The event is free, but tickets are required.


“Callas in Concert: The Hologram Tour” takes place at the Lyric Opera House, September 7. Photo by Lyric Opera of Chicago.


I never met nor heard Maria Callas in person, but I have tickets in hand for “Callas in Concert: The Hologram Tour”  at the Lyric Opera House on September 7.   The Stars of Lyric Opera perform a free concert at Millennium Park on September 6.


“Los Reyes” continues to play at the Gene Siskel Film Center through September 5. Photo by Gene Siskel Film Center.


Movies, music and plays have a kingly theme this month.  Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier will present David Seidler’s “The King’s Speech” September 12-October 27 starring Harry Hadden-Paton as Bertie, aka King George VI.  Harry Hadden-Paton played another Bertie, aka the Marquess of Hexham, in the TV series “Downton Abbey.”  A 1927 visit from King George V and Queen Mary to the Crawleys is one of the events in the movie version of “Downton Abbey,” to be released September 20.  The rock band King Crimson comes to the Auditorium Theatre on September 10 as part of their 2019 tour celebrating 50 years.  Court Theater is producing all ten of August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle” works.  Their latest is his “King Hedley II” about a man returning home after serving seven years in jail, September 12-October 13.   Next on Court’s 2019/20 season is Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus Rex’ November 7-December 8.  The Chicago premiere of the Chilean film “Los Reyes” (“The Kings”) continues at the Gene Siskel Film Center through September 5. The two kings in the title refer to two stray dogs who rule over Santiago’s Park of the Kings.


Other theater this month includes “Destinos,” the third annual Chicago International Latino Theater Festival featuring works from artist based here in Chicago, the U.S., Mexico and Latin America, September 19-October 27, at various locations.  Attending one of the plays in the fest is a good way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.


One of several Chicago Humanities Festival kick-off events is “Creative Chicago: Art and the City,” a free, day-long series of panel discussions on September 14 at Venue Six10.  The fall festival runs October 26-November 10.


Another season that literally kicks into high gear is the football season.  Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper might be the headliner at the September 5 concert in Grant Park preceding the NFL’s season-opening game between the Bears and Packers at Soldier Field.  It’s both the Bears’ and the NFL’s 100th anniversary.


Morrissey makes his Ravinia debut on September 14 with special guest INTERPOL. Photo by Ravinia.


Of course, as one season begins, another ends.  Ravinia Festival’s 2019 season ends September 15, but not before Morrissey makes his Ravinia debut on September 14 with special guest INTERPOL.  In my younger days, I loved listening to Morrissey when he was frontman for the Smiths.  September 29 marks the end of the regular baseball season with the Cubs at the Cardinals and the Tigers at the Sox.  Every year I vow to check out the Randolph Street Market to hunt for treasure. The last outdoor market of their summer season is September 28-29, but not to worry, the market moves indoors in the fall and winter.


Dates, times, location and availability are subject to change.