Music

One of the most famous and revered music institutions in the city is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, located a bit south of the Art Institute on South Michigan Avenue. This is the home for classical music in Chicago, employing over 100 musicians and sponsoring more than 200 performances every year.

If you appreciate music with a tad more dramatic flair, the Lyric Opera might be the place for you. There is only one bigger opera auditorium on the North American continent. As you can imagine, the spatial layout coupled with the world-class performers both contribute to giving the place both its class, as well as, its outstanding reputation. Even more impressive are the performances themselves, which are not only extremely engaging but also international-based in program. Many productions sell out quickly, so it is best to plan your visit in advance.

For less formal performances, you might stop by the Old Town School of Folk Music, whose main headquarters is in (you guessed it) Old Town, located on Chicago near north side. Their interpretation of the folk music genre is wide enough to include almost any kind of music that is not overproduced or heavily commercial. Many interesting grassroots-style performers from around the country come here to perform. You can also sign up for instrument and dance lessons which, moderately priced, are offered throughout the year.

The jazz tradition is famously rich around Chicago, and there are many places you can visit to see quality performances. Although it’s kind of off the beaten path (it’s considered to be on Chicago’s northwest side in an area known as Uptown), the Green Mill is an extremely popular place to hear true jazz, swing, and big band performers. The space itself has a lot of style and fabulous cocktails, but you should go early in the evening to ensure you get a table. If you don’t want to venture so far, Jazz Showcase in Chicago’s River North, is another good venue that is located downtown. Generally speaking, it is a little more expensive and a little less crowded.

The Chicago Cultural Center, a project of the Mayor’s wife, Mrs. Maggie Daley, provides a taste of all different kinds of musical traditions. It offers extensive programming year-round that is absolutely free. The Cultural Center, housed within a stunning city landmark building, has a little bit of everything from classical music to modern jazz.

While these are some of the most popular music venues, there are, of course, countless others. Check local listings and websites like Metromix and Citysearch for up-to-date information regarding concerts. Also, there are a number of music festivals during the summer months. the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival are two free events that are well worth attending. Also, there are also a variety of orchestral concerts held at an array of citywide parks.