Review: Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Morton Arboretum

Since it is summer, I try to be outside as much as possible. I love walking and sitting in the fresh air. I love feeling the warm, sometimes muggy air around me. One of my absolutely favorite parts of summer is the outdoor entertainment in the form of music and plays. In addition to seeing Oak Park Theater Festival’s Hamlet this week, we saw the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Morton Arboretum.

I’ve only been to Morton Arboretum a few times but it’s been quite lovely. It’s 1,700 acres of plants and trees with some lakes and other waterways. I’ve been in both the summer and the fall; it’s a different experience. However, it’s in Lisle, IL so it’s a bit of a haul from Chicago. I’m not sure if public transportation is possible.

This was the second year of the CSO at the Arboretum. Last year, they played songs composed by John Williams, which was amazing. I really dug hearing the themes of “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars” live. And it was truly breathtaking to listen to the “Theme to Superman” under the stars.

This year, we went again and it was amazing. It’s worth the trip out there. The concert was a series of Hungarian Dances by Brahms, “Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26” by Max Bruch, and then the magnificent “New World Symphony” by Dvorak. The Hungarian Dances were alright; I wish they had decided to do Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances”, which I adore. Of the three works, I was rather impressed by the piece by Max Bruch. He’s not a composer I know very well but this violin concerto was incredible. The violist was simply masterful. The New World Symphony was amazing as always. I love the largo or the second part, which is rare for me. I prefer much faster paced pieces as a rule. But something about the slow melody (that builds) really resonates with me. And then the fourth part is truly the bees knees. I could listen to it forever.

Overall, it was really awe-inspiring to sit in a grassy field surrounded by trees listening to the orchestra. We got to sit and listen to magnificent music while a cool breeze blew and the clouds drifted by above us.

And another word: it’s so much nicer in terms of operations compared to Ravinia. I went a few times last summer to Ravinia and I’m taking a break. It’s so painful to get there and leave; it’s really discouraged me from going out there. But Morton Arboretum made it easy. We had to park fairly far away from the stage but there was a shuttle that took us to the concert and back with no fuss. No hour-long waits. We were in our car within 10 minutes of the concert ending. And on the trip home, I saw dark groves filled with lightning bugs. Brilliant. So yeah. It all makes me want to return next year.

That’s all!

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