Bach beats Britney


Take your family to the Grant Park Music Festival

Tchaikovsky is no Justin Timberlake and Beethoven no Britney Spears, but organizers of this year's Grant Park Music Festival aren't worried. They're betting most kids can appreciate good classical music when they hear it.

The Grant Park Music Festival, a free summer concert series, kicks off June 11 at the Petrillo Music Shell with a performance dedicated to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The concert series runs most Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays until Aug. 16.

The picnic-perfect lawn seating tends to attract families with children, says festival spokeswoman Karen Ryan. The Wednesday and Thursday "Rush Hour" concerts are long enough to include major musical works but short enough to get kids home before bedtime. The concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and last an hour and a half without intermission.

But Ryan says she is most surprised by the scores of young teens who come to the concerts on dates.

"It's so great because I think there is a scarcity of free things to do during the week," Ryan says. "It's a great date place for young people because you can always impress dates with classical music. It's classy."

But not all of the concerts focus on classical music. On June 13 and 14, soprano concert artist Elizabeth P. Norman is scheduled to join the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of selections from "West Side Story." Norman says the musical's romantic themes might appeal to adults, but its energy tends to catch the attention of younger audiences.

"‘West Side Story' is sort of a pop performance; it's very youthful and it's very this century," Norman says. "It's so contemporary that any age can enjoy it."

Norman says children take away something special from attending a concert in person.

"There is nothing like the bowing of a string, both slow and fast," Norman says. "To see [the artist] weave his magic, there is no way you can come to a concert and see all that is going on and not be hooked."

The Petrillo Music Shell is located at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Columbus Drive, in the heart of Grant Park. For more information, call (312) 742-4763 or visit the festival's Web site at



-- Kiyoski Tomono, Medill News Service


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