Director James Conlon will mark the Shostakovich centennial with the composer's final three symphonies, and the Mozart anniversary with performances of Mozart's piano concertos. He will also conduct Mahler's Third and Fourth Symphonies, Verdi's Requiem and the music of Erwin Schulhoff, who died in a Nazi concentration camp.
Ravinia will present the Chicago premieres of two pieces by Osvaldo Golijov, including a new work for cello and orchestra featuring Yo-Yo Ma and the opera Ainandamar ("Fountain of Tears"), the story of the martyred Spanish poet Lorca.
Other contemporary works premiered will be inspired by Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the composer's death, Ravinia commissioned 10 composers, including Ramsey Lewis, Ned Rorem, Jake Heggie, and Augusta Read Thomas, to create their own "scenes from childhood." Pianists including Jeffrey Kahane and Jonathan Biss will perform Schumann works throughout the summer.
The Emerson String Quartet will bring part of its Shostakovich quartet cycle, performing quartets Nos. 13-15. Garrick Ohlsson will play all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in eight concerts.
Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and conductor/pianist Andrew Litton will headline "Gershwin at Ravinia: Who Could Ask for Anything More?" The gala benefit commemorates the 70th anniversary of Gershwin's only Ravinia performance, which took place in 1936, a year before his death.
Guest soloists performing with the CSO include Ren_e Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman.
Ravinia Festival will fly in 70 artists from South Africa for the American premiere of the oratorio uShaka. Sung in Zulu, it tells the story of the controversial king and ruthless militarist who united the Zulu people in the early 19th century.