About the Town in September



By Philip Vidal




The cornucopia of fall events in Chicago typically overflows in September.   Wow, have things changed, and they’re still in flux.  Although most events have gone virtual, or a hybrid of virtual and live, there are still live events available this fall. 


The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center’s Women’s Leadership Committee will hose a virtual Soirée on September 2. Photo by Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.


Many benefits have gone virtual.  The Women’s Leadership Committee of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center hosts a virtual Soirée on September 2 emceed by social columnist Candace Jordan.  Katie Kadan, a finalist from “The Voice,” performs with other surprise guests. 


The Lyric Opera of Chicago hosts “For the Love of Lyric,” a virtual concert on September 12 for special sponsor broadcast and September 13 for free broadcast. Photo by Lyric Opera of Chicago.


The Women’s Board of the Lyric had planned to open the Lyric Opera’s 66th season a bit differently this year, with live performances by Renée Fleming and others, instead of the Opera Ball as in the past.  Plans have changed again, but Renée Fleming will still get top billing at “For the Love of Lyric,” a virtual concert direct from the stage.  The special sponsor broadcast is September 12, and the free virtual broadcast is September 13


Hershey Felder has performed “George Gershwin Alone” around the world, including at our own Royal George Theatre, but I’ve never had a chance to see it.  He’ll portray the great American composer in a virtual performance, “George Gershwin Alone,” live from Florence, Italy, on September 13, to benefit  Chicago’s Porchlight Music Theatre, as well as other theaters.  


The Chicago Children’s Choir’s “Red Jacket Optional” 63rd-anniversary gala will now become a virtual fundraiser, “Reverberation: A Celebration of Enduring Voices,“ on September 26. 


The Chicago Humanities Festival, now in its 31st year, always has a terrific line-up of speakers.   Maybe too terrific, as tickets sometimes sell out far in advance.   This year access should be easier, as their Fall Festival goes digital and is free of charge, September 8 through November 22. 


Alliance Française de Chicago hosts “La Côte d’Azur – Le Grand Style de la Riviera,” virtual lectures during the month of September. Photo  by Alliance Française de Chicago.


I’m on a weekly Zoom call with friends, and a question is provided to all of the participants in advance of the call.  On a recent call, the question was what three talents would you like to have (you couldn’t say things like ESP or clairvoyance).   Almost everyone mentioned being able to play a musical instrument or being fluent in a foreign language.  Why not make one of these a reality?  The Alliance Française de Chicago makes learning French easy.   Join them on September 8 for their Fall 2020 virtual Open House.  On September 9-10, they’ll have trial classes, before live classes on Zoom start on September 14.  The theme for this year’s Alliance Symposium on the Arts of France is “La Côte d’Azur – Le Grand Style de la Riviera.” It’s a series of virtual lectures on September 10, 18, and 25 that explores this fabled region in the South of France. 


The Chicago Latino Film Festival will be a virtual event from September 18-27. Photo by Chicago Latino Film Festival.


Reeling 2020: The 38th annual Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival also goes virtual this year, from September 24 to October 4.   Celebrate Latino Heritage Month, September 15-October 15, by watching a film at the 36th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival, which is also virtual, from September 18-27.


Destinos al Aire” at ChiTown Movies drive-in, 2343 S. Throop in Pilsen, offering both live, in-person and a simulcast on September 17, is another way to celebrate Latino Heritage Month. 


Just down the street, at 2233 S. Throop, is the limited-capacity, in-person venue High Capacity Labs at Mana Contemporary Chicago, where you can explore the poetry of Persian poet Rumi in a new multi-media performance, “With Rumi,”  by Mandala South Asian Performing Arts on September 26.  It will also be streamed from September 26 through October 4.


The 14th annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival offers a hybrid of virtual performances on September 26, and live performances on mobile stages on September 27.


The Chicago Architecture Center continues to offer CAC Live series of virtual events through September 9 as part of their CAC@Home program.  They’ve also resumed live “L” tours and their famous river cruises.


Enjoy Chicago Park District’s Chicago Onscreen film festival through outdoor, limited capacity screenings, drive-in movie events and virtually, now through September 19. Photo by Chicago Park District.


The Chicago Park District’s Chicago Onscreen film festival offers three ways to safely enjoy its programming through September 19: a virtual film festival; outdoor, limited-capacity screenings; and drive-in movie events.


If you’re looking for the real thing you can enjoy viewing art in-person at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” featuring artworks from Chicago’s public and private collections curated by Nigerian-born, British designer Duro Olowu, continues at the Museum of Contemporary Art through September 27.  


The Art Institute of Chicago’s “Monet and Chicago” open to members September 3-4 and to the public on September 5. Photo by Art Institute of Chicago.


Gloria Groom, the Art Institute of Chicago’s Chair of European Painting and Sculpture, has curated another blockbuster with a local twist that I can’t wait to see. “Monet and Chicago,” featuring more than 65 paintings from the Art Institute’s and Chicago-based collections, opens to members September 3-4, and to the public on September 5. 


Renaissance armor from the Art Institute and astronomical instruments from the Adler Planetarium are displayed alongside materials from the Newberry Library in the new exhibition “Renaissance Invention: Stradanus’s ‘Nova Reperta” through November 28.  The Renaissance was an age of technological wonders chronicled in the 16th-century prints of “Nova Reperta” (New Discoveries), which will be on view.


Wrightwood 659 reopens on September 9 with “Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People,” presented by Alphawood Exhibitions in partnership with the Vitra Design Museum of Weil am Rhein, Germany.  You can also tour the exhibition virtually.  I’m not familiar with this Pritzker Prize laureate; I intend to reserve a spot to see this retrospective of his work. 


Take a guided bicycle tour through Oak Park, “Pedal Oak Park,” and view a collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo by Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.


Frank Lloyd Wright is a familiar name here in his native Midwest. “Wright before the “Lloyd” is an intriguing name for an exhibition about the famed architect.  The show, curated by Chicago’s cultural historian Tim Samuelson, runs September 10 through February 14 at the Elmhurst Art Museum.   In conjunction with the exhibition, you can take a self-guided Walking Tour of Elmhurst’s modern architecture through the Elmhurst Museum (it’s free with admission and includes an audio tour), so check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s work with your own eyes, as well as works by Mies van der Rohe, Walter Burley Griffin, and R. Howard Zook.   Take a “Pedal Oak Park” bicycle tour, weekends through September 27, or a “Wright Around Oak Park” walking tour through the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, weekends through October.


A chance to hear live music in-person has become a rarity, but the Fever Originals Candlelight series, which continues through September, offers live jazz and classical music concerts outdoors at venues such as the Ace Hotel’s Prairie Terrace and Salvage One Courtyard.   


Enjoy a flick from the comfort of your car at the Lincoln Yards Lot drive-in. This collaboration with Sterling Bay, Davis Theater, Facets, and the 2nd Ward continues through September.  Instead of a car, enjoy a movie from a small boat.   Floating Boat Cinema brings its concept to Chicago September 9 through 13.  


Release dates for films have changed multiple times, or films went straight to streaming.  But now you can now see a movie in-person at many Chicago movie theaters.  After at least three delays, Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated thriller “Tenet” opens September 3.   


Dates, times, locations, and availability are subject to change.  Please stay healthy and safe and keep up with the latest information about the COVID-19 pandemic.