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  • Terri VanValkinburgh, Assistant Principal Viola

The Grant Park Symphony Connection

Ahh, summer in Chicago! It's a beautiful city in which to live and work this time of year, despite eternal re-routing to avoid construction. On a lovely mild day it's hard to find a better place to call 'the office' than Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park. I and a number of my Lyric Opera Orchestra colleagues rehearse and perform here every summer as part of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. For ten weeks we play an intense series of concerts on Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday nights that run the gamut from well known pieces like Beethoven 7 to the not-so-well-known works of Chicago-born composer Robert Kurka. With so many programs to learn in a very short time period, it's really important to neither over- nor under-practice. We've discovered that keeping a careful eye on upcoming programs, a locker stocked with ibuprofen, and the occasional post-performance application of fermented beverages works well up through week 8. After that, it's a 2-week frenzy of running on fumes and whatever chocolate we can scrounge from the music library. As half of our members come from out of town each summer, it's wonderful to catch up with friends and colleagues we haven't seen for much of the year, and to play great and challenging works in one of the country's most beautiful venues. Some days it's way too cold, some days it's way too hot, and there are nights where the bugs won't stop launching at your face and the maestro du jour has forgotten to examine his zipper. It's all worth it, especially that last one.

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