If you love music, you’ve definitely come to the right place! Chicago is full of musical offerings all year long from the genres it’s traditionally famous for, such as jazz and blues, to rock, pop and classical, Chicago’s got it all. Because there is certainly a lot on offer and I can just touch on what is available to you, I will be providing links to the websites that may be of interest to you.
No account of what you have to expect musically would be complete without first mentioning what Northwestern itself has on offer. What’s so fantastic about this campus is that while a lot of good schools around the country host events, what you’ll be hearing here is music that is not just played, but created by your fellow students – we are an incredibly innovative place musically. This goes well beyond a few concerts, there are daily performances and you will often have to choose between four or five scheduled performances on any given day. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the highlights of what will be playing fall quarter as most events are scheduled closer to the start of the new academic year.
Nonetheless, I encourage you to visit www.pickstaiger.org as your one stop shop for almost all formal music venues on campus. Take the time to browse some of the offerings and I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking. Admission to all campus events is either free or comes at a very low cost for students. If you’d like to save some money on tickets, I highly recommend attending some of the recitals on campus, be it undergraduate recitals, masters recitals or even doctoral recitals. These are always free and you will hear some very talented soloists in a more intimate setting. If all that is still not enough, our more informal performance groups usually advertise directly on campus.
Such performances include many a cappella groups or our percussion ensembles such as boomshaka. To find out more, perhaps visit wildcatconnection and look for these specific groups directly. Last, but certainly not least, there is Dillo Day of course, when Northwestern enjoys a day of music and partying. You can read all about it here: http://groups.northwestern.edu/mayfest/home.html
Now, even though you can hear a lot of music on campus, why not head into Chicago and explore. Perhaps two of the more traditional genres in Chicago, Jazz and Blues can be heard in many bars and restaurants. Although some of the south-side music clubs are famous for their selection, if you are not 21 (and let’s face it, who is?), blues and jazz can be heard in many restaurants as well. Why not start exploring here in Evanston when you arrive with your parents for ISO. Pete Miller’s Steakhouse has live jazz playing every day of the week and your parents will certainly enjoy the venue as well (http://www.petemillers.com/music-evanston/index.html). Of course Chicago is also home to the jazz and a blues festivals, which are hosted over the summer (feel free to just google these).
If you enjoy listening to classical music, there is certainly a lot on offer here as well. Perhaps most famously, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Michigan Ave. under music director Riccardo Muti is one of the top US ensembles. Student tickets are available on their website at www.cso.org for 10 dollars and their quality may vary according to availability. (If you don’t particularly like your seat, try finding a better spot during the intermission.) Another one of Chicago’s great classical venues is the Lyric Opera house, a must see if you have any interest in opera whatsoever. Next year’s lineup is available here: http://www.lyricopera.org/. Tickets are 20 dollars for students and you must register at https://www.lyricopera.org/next/index.aspx. The way this works is that the opera house sends you an email with a promotion code when they have tickets left over, which is usually one or two weeks before a performance. Many other classical music venues can be found around the city such as the Chicago Cultural Center with its beautiful Tiffany glass dome that regularly hosts chamber music events.
Then there are the “regular” concert venues from the rock and pop world that every major city attracts – Chicago being no exception. In Semptember alone, Kelly Clarkson, The Fray, Toby Keith, Mötley Crüe, KISS, Bruce Springsteen, Rush, Buddy Guy, Jason Mraz, Dropkick Murphys, Jonny Lang, Madonna and The Avett Brothers will be stopping by in Chicago (http://concertful.com/ although there are a lot of other websites out there). Perhaps check concert listings once you arrive, but you can be sure that all of the big name bands hit Chicago on their US tours.
To round it all off, some of Chicago’s other music festivals ought to be mentioned. For our classic music lovers, the Grant Park Music Festival (in Millennium Park) offers classical music in the summer from June through August http://www.grantparkmusicfestival.com. Ravinia Festival (just north of Evanston) offers some fantastic performances from various artists throughout the summer as well. The festival begins in early June and runs into September. This year’s lineup includes such artists as Train, Santana, Seal or cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Ravinia really encompasses all genres). Visit http://www.ravinia.org for more information. Lastly, there is Lollapalooza, Chicago’s famous rock festival that can be found at http://www.lollapalooza.com/.
I hope this gives you an idea of some of the things Chicago has to offer musically. No matter what your taste in music, I’m sure you’ll find more than enough to listen to here.