I forgive Chicago many sins (except for snow on April 20) because of the summer-long Grant Park Music Festival (which actually takes place in Millennium Park). It’s free, a professional orchestra dedicated to the festival plays on a Gehry-designed stage, and a slice of one of the world’s great skylines hugs in along the park’s northern and western edges as if it were another citizen leaning in for a listen.  

The whole thing fills me with so much civic pride and so much cheese; when the arrival of summer feels like a civic accomplishment in itself, like something we battled for and nearly lost, reverent is the only approach to eating and drinking outside. I go in for the good cheese, a crisp wine and have a tipsy lie-back on the grass to soak up the music and the triumph with a thousand other people who also understand just how good this feels for having known just how bad it gets.

This season’s line up is a jackpot, and I aim to see most of it.  The Rite of Spring. A chance to hear my buddy Tchaikovsky’s Sym 4 again. A clarinet concerto! A CONCERTO FOR SAXOPHONES. I have dreamt about seeing a saxophone concerto. Man alive, it’s gonna be good. 

Photo from the Grant Park Music Festival