Monday, July 17, 2017

Make Music Chicago - 2017


Make Music Chicago is an annual one day music festival held on June 21. It fosters diverse musical performances throughout the City of Chicago.

The Make Music Chicago organization describes it as:
"Make Music Chicago is a day-long, citywide, DIY music festival that celebrates the musician in us all. Every June 21st, Make Music Chicago helps Chicagoans celebrate their ability to make music, regardless of age, ability or preferred musical style. Completely different from a typical music festival, Make Music Chicago is open to anyone who wants to take part. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion — pours onto streets, parks, plazas and porches to share their music with friends, neighbors, and strangers. All of it is free and open to the public."

My wife and I are both music fans. We see Make Music Chicago as a fun way to experience some of the incredible diversity of music made in Chicago. Price: FREE!

Make Music Chicago provides exciting and unique opportunities each year. My favorite performances this year were:

1. The Civic Orchestra of Chicago String Quartet at St. James Cathedral.
2. The organ recitals (unofficially dubbed "organ crawl 2017") at both Chicago's St. James Cathedral and The Fourth Presbyterian Church.

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago String Quartet | St. James Cathedral, Chicago | Make Music Chicago | Photo by Tom Bowser

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago String Quartet performed 2 pieces of music at St. James Cathedral. The first piece was one of my long time favorites, Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. It's a piece of music that evokes a powerful emotional response in me each time I hear it. The second piece and my favorite of their performances that day was Lyric for Strings by George Walker. This was the first time I had ever heard this piece of music. I loved every moment of the performance. Lyric for Strings is an emotional piece and The Civic Orchestra of Chicago String Quartet's performance was beautifully executed.

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago String Quartet for this performance was:
Tara Lynn Ramsey - violin
Janis Sakai - violin
Kip Riecken - viola
Alex Ellsworth - cello

Stephen Buzard the director of music for St. James Cathedral began his organ recital shortly after the Civic Orchestra of Chicago String Quartet concluded their performance. His playing was wonderful, but occasional hampered by some technical deficiencies in the organ itself. After his performance he explained that the organ was improperly renovated many years ago. In fact. the organ was currently missing some of the pipes that would normally be utilized during a performance.

The church is looking for financial support to help them finance the costly repairs that are desperately needed to bring the organ back to it's original beauty. To become a benefactor and support the restoration of the organ for this beautiful church contact Stephen Buzard, Director of Music at St. James Cathedral, 65 E Huron St, Chicago, IL 60611. Visit the churches web site at Saint James Cathedral

Following Stephen Buzards organ recital we walked the few blocks over to Chicago's Magnificent mile and the The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. We were invited to the organ loft by Fourth Presbyterian's organist and director of music John Sherer. We carefully made our way up the narrow stairs to the organ loft high above the church alter where the Andrew Pipe Organ is located. Planning and fundraising for the $3,000,000 required for restoration of this organ began in 2012. Restoration work was completed in 2015. It sounds fantastic!

John W. W. Sherer - Organist and Director of Music for Fourth Presbyterian Church playing the Andrew Pipe Organ | horizontal image | Photo by Tom Bowser

You could not ask for a more engaging, thrilling place to watch a performance. The power of this great organ is impressive and compelling. The organ has 8,343 pipes making it the largest in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. My whole body vibrated when John Sherer played some of the organs lowest notes, some of which were so low in pitch that human hearing can barely perceive them. The best seats in the house! Add Make Music Chicago to your schedule for next year. You will find something you enjoy!

John W. W. Sherer - Organist and Director of Music for Fourth Presbyterian Church playing the 1971 Aeolian-Skinner Organ | vertical image | Photo by Heather Bowser