Updated: August 12, 2013 11:45AM
The best bargain of the summer is shaping up to be Chicago Symphony Orchestra pavilion tickets for $25 at the Ravinia Festival.
Through a promotion called “2,500 at $25,” almost three-fourths of the 3,400 pavilion seats for each of 14 CSO concerts this season will be sold at a steep discount, including the annual gala benefit on July 27 with superstar pianist Lang Lang, and a concert version of Verdi’s “Aida” on Aug. 3. Pavilion seats usually cost $80 apiece for CSO programs.
The CSO’s annual residency, which runs to Aug. 16, begins with two all-Beethoven programs, conducted by Christoph von Dohnanyi, on Thursday and Friday. James Conlon, Ravinia’s music director since 2005, will conduct eight CSO pavilion concerts and two Martin Theatre programs from July 17 until Aug. 4.
Welz Kauffman, president and CEO of the Ravinia Festival, said the price reduction was inspired by this summer’s 25th anniversary celebration of the festival’s Steans Institute. “In this hectic world where so many cultural opportunities compete for audience time and money, we didn’t want price to be an obstacle to experiencing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia,” he said.
Ravinia will offer the discounts next summer, too. “Next year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ravinia Associates board, so we’ll keep the $25 price in 2014,” he said. “That means you can see and hear one of the world’s finest ensembles for less than what you might expect to pay for tickets to a local performance group.”
To sweeten the deal for groundlings on the lawn, the festival has installed giant video screens for the all-Beethoven programs.
For the first time, unsold pavilion seats will be covered this summer, so that the large hall will appear less empty.
Lawn tickets for CSO concerts are $10 and free to students with IDs at the box office the night of the program.
Dorothy Andries is a free-lance contributor.