By Ken Trainor
The Symphony of Oak Park-River Forest will be in a decidedly French mood at this Sunday's first concert of the 2013-14 season. And that's not the only reason behind their current joie de vivre.
The board has been working hard to meet a 2-for-1 challenge grant from the Audrey Love Foundation, received at their September 2011 Symphony Gala at the Carleton Hotel. The grant, issued by John Giura of Oak Park, stipulated that if the symphony could raise $50,000 in the coming year, the foundation would double that amount, totaling $150K.
And the symphony is thrilled to announce that it raised over $74,000 so the match is being, well, granted.
The Symphony of Oak Park-River Forest (SOPRF), which bills itself as "the oldest continuing community orchestra in the nation" is now in its 82nd season. Thanks to some pretty close ties with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Musical Director/Conductor Jay Friedman has been principal trombonist for over half a century), they are able to present a concert at Symphony Center every other season. This is one of those seasons, and on April 28, they will perform Mozart's Requiem and Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem. The Symphony of OP-RF also has presented outreach concerts to underserved areas such as Our Lady of Angels and Morton East High School.
Meanhile, CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti will, in the wake of his own outreach concert at Morton East, will pay a visit to River Forest next Wednesday, where he will conduct an open rehearsal with the Symphony of OP-RF at the Dominican University Performing Arts Center (DUPAC) on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. All current subscribers and ticket holders are invited to this special free event. Show your SOPRF ticket stub from this Sunday's concert or a ticket for one of the upcoming concerts to gain admission. Students with IDs will be also admitted.
Quite a coup landing Muti for a rehearsal.
"He heard our CD of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and liked it," Friedman explained. "I asked him to do a rehearsal and he said yes. A miracle!"
So it's probably no coincidence that the title of the Sept. 29 concert is "Ecstasy." And the lineup certainly sounds ecstatic:
Debussy's Prélude à L'Après-midi d'un faune, with Maurice Boyer, assistant conductor
Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto No. 2, with Naomi Kudo, soloist
Liszt's Les Préludes
Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy
All in the Lund Auditorium at Dominican University's Performing Arts Center, 7900 W. Division Street, River Forest.
And after the French concert, you can join the French dinner at Autre Monde Cafe%u0301 in Berwyn ($45 per person). Contact Beth at 708-218-2648 or theSymphonyOPRF@gmail.com.
After the Czech concert in January, dinner will be held at Klas Restaurant in Cicero. Those tickets are $25 a person.