Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-13
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



MUSIC Ravinia CEO Welz Kauffman on upcoming season
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Tony Bennett, Chicago, Queen Latifah and Common, Lionel Richie, Sting, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Pentatonix, Jennifer Hudson, Steely Dan, OneRepublic, Kesha, Bobby McFerrin, Sarah McLachlan, Mary J. Biige, Fred Hersch, Matthew Polenzani and Ringo Starr are just some of the musical acts performing this summer at the Highland Park venue Ravinia.

There will be more than 50 artist debuts and 35 festival premieres, including Ravinia's co-commissioning of the last composition of the late Andre Previn, a one-act for Renee Fleming. Nine conductors take the podium for the 84th annual residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, including Marin Alsop, returning as curator of Ravinia's multi-season celebration of Leonard Bernstein. ( There will also be a Bernstein exhibit. )

Windy City Times recently talked with Ravinia CEO Welz Kauffman—who's helmed the organization since 2000—about this year's acts.

Windy City Times: When it comes to procuring artists for the next season, do you all start immediately after the previous season ends?

Welz Kauffman: That's a really great question. One of the things that makes the process practical and logical is that different artists book at different times.

Classical artists are always way ahead of the game. A great singer like Placido Domingo or Renee Fleming will be [typically] booked six or seven years in advance because they're such big stars. With summer festivals and classical music, it's not THAT far in advance, but I'm pretty much locked for 2020 with [some].

With the non-classical artists—who are about 35-40 percent of what we do—they don't typically like even begin talking with me until Thanksgiving before the coming summer; that's a little bit of a nail-biter. Why do they wait so long? Because if you're Maroon 5 or Lionel Richie or Sting, you're booking six-, eight- or 10-week tours at a time—and box office can [determine] where they go.

And I'm always thinking about who I'd like to have. Stevie Wonder can come whenever he wants to; he's been on my bucket list forever. I've been able to get through most of the bucket list I've had since 2000, which is gratifying. Stevie Nicks carne a couple years ago—and she was mad at me because I hadn't been more forceful to get her to come.

I like Joan Baez and Bonnie Raitt summed it up best: They think of Ravinia as a big Park West—which I took as a huge compliment, especially regarding the layout.

This is [perfect] for me. I'm an omnivorous enjoyer of all kinds of music.

WCT: Has the Ravinia line-up always been this diverse? For example, has rap always been there?

WK: I guess one of the questions one has to ask is "How long has rap been around?" It hasn't been around as long as jazz, for example, but you're right. Wyclef Jean and having Mary J. Blige were new to us—but they were such great shows. We want to see many audiences and many different types of people. If they want to see Mary J. Blige one night and Mozart the next, more power to them.

WCT: You're also doing something LGBT-related that's also connected with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.

WK: So we did [the show "Considering Matthew Shepard"] for the first time last year, and it was the 20th anniversary of his murder. It's a piece I've loved and known for a couple years. No one needs an anniversary to do a piece, but it just came together that way. And this year, we have jazz pianist Fred Hersch; he was out pretty early, and he's a fascinating person and consummate musician.

This year, we're also doing a Leonard Bernstein piece. It's not just that Bernstein was gay or bisexual, but it was a political piece. This was when he and Nixon were battling back and forth; J. Edgar Hoover told Nixon that Bernstein had written lyrics in a secret code to kill Nixon. Also, Leonard was very involved in the times he was living in; he entertained the Black Panthers, for example.

We're not hugely political at Ravinia—but, at the same time, we never shy away from things.

Also, we've collaborated with Center on Halsted, and I've been involved with them [for some time]. Last year, there were some guys named Well Strung, who mix things like Bach and "Call Me Maybe"; they're coming back this year for a farewell tour. We've also worked with the Center on "Considering Matthew Shepard." We were also in the Pride Parade a couple years ago; we had Lea DeLaria, who was the Pride Parade grand marshal, do a show—she's a wonderful singer.

These are wonderful artists. They just happen to be part of the LGBT community.

WCT: You mentioned a bucket list…

WK: …which includes Bruno Mars.

WCT: What musician who has retired or even passed away would you have loved to have at Ravinia?

WK: Oh, man. Most recently—partially because I used to work for him—the great composer/raconteur Andre Previn… I would've loved for him to come here, because we actually have the premiere of what we think was the last work he ever wrote. That's happening in July with Renee Fleming and the Emerson String Quartet.

And, Andre revered Bernstein; they were incredibly alike—writing for film, concert hall, Broadway, opera, as well as conducting and being great television personalities. They had charisma, and were witty and super-smart.

Who else? We had Ella [Fitzgerald], Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, but would still love to them [again]. Definitely, Tom Petty was on my bucket list; we got close but it never happened. Elvis—why not?

For more, visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

DCASE annouces new online series Millennium Park at Home 2020-05-24 - Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events today announced new virtual events for everyone missing Millennium Park's renowned cultural programming. The new ...

Gay News

Patti LuPone: A comeback in quarantine 2020-05-22 - In Ryan Murphy's Hollywood, the wife becomes the boss, the "Black screenwriter" is simply a screenwriter, and the gay leading man is just ...

Gay News

Lola Lennox lives a legacy 2020-05-19 - At the age of 29, singer Lola Lennox is finally ready to release music and show listeners what she's all about. She was ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Idol' alum, PBS series, LGBT film, concert series, Bad Bunny 2020-05-18 - Openly gay American Idol alum David Hernandez has premiered his new song—"Sorry"—and the accompanying music video, a press release noted. "Sorry" is described ...

Gay News

Melissa Etheridge's son dies at age 21 2020-05-14 - Beckett Cypher—the son of Melissa Etheridge and her former partner Julie Cypher—died, according to media reports. He was 21. Etheridge, on Twitter, said, ...

Gay News

Ravinia's production of Bernstein's 'Mass' on PBS on May 15 2020-05-13 - Ravinia's 2019 presentation of iconic conductor Leonard Bernstein's little-seen music theater masterwork Mass will be shown as an installment of the PBS series ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Lady Gaga, Quibi shows, Alexandra Billings, 'Queer Eye,' podcasts 2020-05-12 - Lady Gaga announced that her sixth studio album, Chromatica, will be released Friday, May 29, via Interscope Records, a press release noted. The ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Rock icon Little Richard dies at 87 2020-05-09 - Little Richard—a founding father of rock 'n' roll who was known for his flamboyant style and pompadour as well as hits such as ...

Gay News

COVID-19 Pitchfork Music Festival cancelled 2020-05-06 - This year's Pitchfork Music Festival has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pitchfork was slated to be held in Chicago's Union Park ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Homecoming' series, virtual concerts, Janet Jackson, Jeffree Star 2020-05-04 - The critically acclaimed series Homecoming returns for its second season Friday, May 22, on Amazon Prime Video with a new mystery and a ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.