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Ravinia Festival in Highland Park Returns in 2021

Ravinia is a staple of Lake County. Since 1905, the Highland Park fest has featured the top musicians in various genres, making it the oldest outdoor festival in U.S. history.

As the COVID-19 crisis halted the land of lakes summer marquee music festival last year, the Highland Park mainstay makes its triumphant return in 2021.

 

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Like every year, Ravinia showcases a slew of star-studded names. In the 2019 edition, we were blessed with a cast of legendary performers like Ramsey Lewis, Little Big Town, Chaka Khan, John Prine, T.I., Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson, Ringo Star, Nickelback, Jennifer Hudson and so many more.

Continue to scroll to view the exceptional lineup as Ravinia Festival in Highland Park returns in 2021!

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (July 9-10, 16, 18, 22-23, 27, 29, Aug. 6-8,12-13, 15)


Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s home away from home. Founded originally in 1891, CSO is consistently dubbed as one of the globe’s upper echelon orchestras. Each year, CSO performs hundreds of concerts every year, and we’re glad to see them back bowing their violas and cellos, tooting their horns and tubas, strumming their harps and banging their timpanis. Watch these extremely talented instrumentalists perform their craft, led by conductor Marin Alsop and special guest baton downbeat guide Jonathan Rush, James Conlon, Yue Bao, and Michael Stern. Mark your calendars for their closing performance on August 15 as they play their annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular. Yes, the “1812 Overture” will have its booming canons per yoush.

Cynthia Erivo and CSO (July 18)

 

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“I may be poor. I may be black. I may be ugly. But I’m here!”Since Cynthia Erivo dampened our tissues and received barrages of standing Os during her Broadway coming out party “The Color Purple,” she continues to dazzle on the big screen and via mini-series. The Emmy, Grammy and Tony-award-winning songstress (also received two Oscar nominations for her portrayal of Harriett Tubman) is just one away from achieving the ever-coveted EGOT title. Erivo also wrote and performed the song “Stand Up.” The British singer’s program at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is called Legendary Women’s voices, which will include some of the greatest female voices of all times, with all orchestral works by female composers. Erivo could channel her inner Aretha, as she did on the National Geographic miniseries “The Outsider” and “Genius.”

Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro (July 20)

 

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What do you get when you an emcee of  “Cabaret” and an emcee of NPR’s “All Things Considered?” There’s no punchline to that joke, but we’re in for something special. Take a trip through the eyes of multi-talented actor Alan Cumming and broadcast journalist Ari Shapiro as they transport audiences to other worlds through their stories. It’s not just the allegories; there will be plenty of tunes and laughs along the way.

Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (July 25)

 

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Jazz maestro, composer, art director, educator and do-it-all music man Wynton Marsalis continues to raise awareness of the truest American art form and bring phenomenal improv to our ears. Marsalis is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and nine-time Grammy winner. He is the only musician to win Grammy’s for Classical and Jazz in one night. Marsalis has worked in a genre stew in his career – from Yo-Yo Ma to Eric Clapton, to Herbie Hancock and others.

Brian McKnight (July 30)

 

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Brian McKnight needs no introduction as the sultry-voiced R&B singer has been oozing hits out for over three decades. With 25 million records sold, a ton of music awards and 16 Grammy nominations, McKnight is one of the pinnacle names in soul music. The perfect date night show, with a bottle of vino and McKnight’s voice over the P.A., sets a romantic atmosphere for you and your significant other.

Willie Nelson & Family (August 14)

 

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There’s nothing Willie can’t do. Musician, actor, activist and martial arts guru, the catalyst of outlaw country music, makes his triumphant return to Ravinia Festival. The Texan has a legacy that has made him into an American icon. A 1993 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Kennedy Center Honor, 10-time Grammy winner and a plethora of other honors and awards, Nelson has quite a library, with over 70 albums to his name. “After the Fire is Gone,” and the show is through, there will be “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

Gladys Knight (August 18)

 

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Hear the sounds of Motown as Gladys Knight performs. Known as the Empress of Soul, Knight recorded legendary hits (as lead songstress of Gladys Knight and the Pips) including ‘Midnight Train to Georgia,’ ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ and ‘Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).’ The seven-time Grammy Award-winning (three more as a member of Gladys Knight and the Pips) and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame diva has blessed our eardrums for over seven decades.

Counting Crows (August 19)

 

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This author can’t help himself and request that The Counting Crows perform “Mr. Jones and me.” The alternative band has rocked our socks off for a quarter of a century. Their album “August and Everything After” went seven times Platinum according to the Recording Industry Association and six of their albums have charted on the Billboard 200 Chart.  The band from Berkley, CA, was also nominated for an Academy Award for their song “Accidentally in Love,” which was in the movie “Shrek 2.”

The Beach Boys (August 21-22)

 

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The Beach Boys are the real deal. The astounding yet true saga of The Beach Boys is well chronicled, and by any standard, it’s one of the greatest and most musical stories ever told. This unique West Coast story continues with a global celebration befitting the remarkable and enduring legacy of these Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. The storied band will perform for two nights.

Lake Street Dive (August 26)


“Obviously” music lovers are excited to see Lake Street Dive on their second visit to Ravinia Festival. As a band, Lake Street Dive epitomizes democracy in action: the group, expanded into a quintet since touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss officially joined in 2017, share writing and arrangement duties. Their personalities, skills, and wide-ranging taste in pop, rock, R&B and jazz have long blended together to make an impressively cohesive sound, both sophisticated and playful, combining retro influences with a contemporary attitude.

Train (August 27-28)

 

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“Hey Soul Sister,” the heralded band Train performs on a two-night stint at the Highland Park staple. The Bay-area, Grammy-winning band has been rocking out stages and dropping albums like little “Drops of Jupiter” (which actually is celebrating its 20th anniversary for that specific record) for nearly three decades. Besides the obvious success of the music, lead singer Pat Monahan makes a wine called Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. that’s garnered 100 awards and has sold over 10 million bottles.

Lady A (September 3)

 

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This country band rose to quick fame and is a powerhouse in its genre since its inception in 2006. They’ve won seven Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Album of the Year. The trio has sold over 18 million units, notched nine no.1 singles on the country chart. The trio tandem has made it known that they’re here to stay for a long, long time.

The Roots (September 4)


The legendary Roots crew is heralded for their live performances. The three-time Grammy-winning, 14-nominated hip hop band hails from Philadelphia. Led by Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer Questlove (Ahmir Thompson), the band has worked with a ton of different acts. The electric rap collective serves as the house band on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” The Roots have worked with Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Toots and the Maytal, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews Band, Queen Latifah, Prince, Beyoncé and a ton of other musicians. Some of their big hits include “You Got Me (Ft. Erykah Badu),” “The Seed 2.0 (Ft. Cody ChestNUTT),”  “Wake Up (with John Legend)” and a slew of other hits over the span of nearly 30 years.

John Legend (September 5-6)

 

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John Legend is heading to Lake County to perform for “All of You.” Ravinia Festival in Highland Park gives you the “Green Light” to “Get Lifted” and excited as Legend graces the Highland Park stage. The Ivy League grad (University of Pennsylvania) will be on his Bigger Love Tour. Legend is not just “Ordinary People,” as he has earned 12 Grammy Awards in his career.

Ana Bárbara and Las Cafeteras: Fiesta Ravinia – Celebration of Mexican Culture (September 12)

 

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Born Altagracia Ugalde Mota, Bárbara is a Jill of all trades as she is a singer, actress, TV personality and model. She has become a prominent figure with Latin entertainment since her professional debut in 1994, and she is one of the leading female figures in regional Mexican music.  Bárbara will be joined by folk/spoken word band Las Cafeteras for the Highland Park staple’s annual Fiesta Ravinia.

Joffrey Ballet (September 17)

 

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Cutting a rug in the ballet sense is quite graceful. Twinkle toe your way to the Highland Park venue. Trained at the highest of standards, the Chicago-based ballet company has staged 65 years of artistic excellence. The premier “bust a move” program includes “Beyond the Shore,” “Swing Low” (accompanied by members of the Chicago Philarmonic, “The Sofa” and “The Times Are Racing.”

Ben Folds (September 18)


Revive college in the best way. Ben Folds has some hits that bend the very fabric of music genres. Besides his solo career, the pianist, singer/songwriter, composer, author, photographer and podcast host has also played in many different bands, including Ben Folds Five, and accompanied some of the most prestigious orchestra companies. The Grammy-winning artist is inspiring to many.

Ms. Lauryn Hill (September 25)


Lake County, “you know you better watch out!” Ms. Lauryn Hill is making her return to Ravinia Festival. The New Jersey native is one of the most influential singers/rappers of her era. Her career began with the Fugees alongside Wyclef Jean and Pras. Hill’s solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is highly regarded as one of the best records in modern music.  She is the owner of eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year (two as a member of the Fugees). The living legend continues to “sing your life with her words. (two times, two times).”

More July Shows at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park

 

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  • Ohlsson Plays Brahms (Part 1) (July 1) INFO»
  • Ravinia Stearns Music Institute (RSMI) Faculty Trio (July 2) INFO»
  • The Ides of March with Jim Peterik and Shemekia Copeland (July 3) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Piano & Strings (July 5) INFO»
  • Ohlsson Plays Brahms (Part 2) (July 6) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Piano & Strings (July 6) INFO»
  • Ohlsson Plays Brahms (Part 3) (July 7) INFO»
  • Vladimir Feltsman (July 8) INFO»
  • CSO: Marin Alsop and Jorge Federico Osorio (July 9) INFO»
  • CSO: Marin Alsop and Jonathan Rush (July 10) INFO»
  • Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Classical Kids Live (July 11) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Piano & Strings (July 11-12) INFO»
  • Ohlsson plays Brahms (July 12) INFO»
  • Kurt Elling (July 13) INFO»
  • RSMI Piano & Strings Chamber Masterworks (July 14) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Piano & Strings (July 15-16) INFO»
  • CSO: Marin Alsop and Midori (July 16) INFO»
  • CSO: Marin Alsop and Lukáš Vondráček (July 17) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Piano & Strings (July 20-22) INFO»
  • Alexander Malofeev (July 21) INFO»
  • CSO: Marin Alsop and Julia Bullock (July 22) (Seen in the video above) INFO»
  • CSO: Marin Alsop and Anthony McGill (July 23) INFO»
  • Classic Albums Live: Led Zeppelin IV (July 24) INFO»
  • Misha Dichter (July 25) INFO»
  • Misha & Cipa Dichter (July 26) INFO»
  • CSO: Broadway Today featuring Betsy Wolfe and Matt Doyle (July 27) INFO»
  • Zukerman Trio (July 28) INFO»
  • CSO: Pinchas Zukerman (July 29) INFO»
  • CSO: Teddy Abrams (July 30) INFO»
  • Yacht Rock Revue (July 31) INFO»

More August Shows at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park

  • Michael Feinstein and Betty Buckley (August 1) INFO»
  • Apollo’s Fire (August 3) INFO»
  • Brett Dennen (August 4) INFO»
  • Michelle DeYoung (August 5) INFO»
  • CSO: James Conlon and William Hagen (August 6) INFO»
  • Laurie Berkner (August 7) INFO»
  • CSO: Teddy Abrams “Unboxing Bernstein: A Live Revue” (August 7) INFO»
  • CSO: Yue Bao, Stella Chen and Matthew Lipman (August 8) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Voice (two shows) (August 9) INFO»
  • Judy Collins and Madeleine Peyroux (August 10) INFO»
  • Sideline (August 11) INFO»
  • CSO: Voice and the Violin featuring Joshua Bell and Larisa Martinez (August 12) INFO»
  • CSO: Michael Stern and Joshua Bell (August 13) INFO»
  • CSO: Tchaikovsky Spectacular (August 15) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Voice (two shows) (August 19) INFO»
  • The Infamous Stringdusters and Leftover Salmon (August 20) INFO»
  • RSMI Program for Voice (August 20) INFO»
  • John Hiatt and The Jerry Douglas Band (August 24) INFO»
  • Marie Osmond with special guest David Archuleta (August 24) INFO»
  • King Crimson and The Zappa Band (August 29) (Seen in the video above) INFO»
  • Davóne Tines: Recital No. 1 “Mass” (August 31) INFO»

More September Shows at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park

  • Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra and Tonic (Sept. 1) INFO»
  • Lara Downes – Rising Sun “Migration & Renaissance” (Sept. 7) INFO»
  • Chicago Sinfonietta (Sept. 8) INFO»
  • NEXUS Chamber Music: Upon Wings of Words (Sept. 9) INFO»
  • Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco (Sept. 10) INFO»
  • Black Violin and the Blind Boys of Alabama (Sept. 11) INFO»
  • Miró Quartet (Sept. 14) INFO»
  • Max Weinberg’s Jukebox (Sept. 19) INFO»
  • Lincoln Trio (Sept. 21) INFO»
  • Frank Orrall (DJ Set) (Sept. 23) INFO»
  • Andrew Bird (Sept. 24) (seen in the video above) INFO»

For more live music in the land of lakes, continue here. To learn more about Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, click here. To see the rest of the summer festivals in Lake County, continue here.

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