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The 5 classical concerts to see at Ravinia this summer

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The Ravinia Festival is now in its 103rd year as Chicago's premier summertime classical music destination and its 78th year as the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Ravinia will kick off its 2014 season, "Summer of Love, Season of Stars," on June 5 with some of the best-known musicians in the world and repertoire that explores the theme of great love in its various manifestations.

The schedule will include more than 50 classical music concerts featuring artists such as violinist Joshua Bell performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, cellist Yo-Yo Ma performing two different versions of "Don Quixote" with The Knights, and the CSO playing the score of "The Return of the King" while the movie is shown on giant screens all across the park. Tickets to all events go on sale to the general public on April 24, exclusively at Ravinia.org.

Here are five of the must-see classical performances at Ravinia this summer.

Joshua Bell performs on June 26
Joshua Bell performs on June 26 Ravinia Festival

Joshua Bell performs on June 26

Violinist Joshua Bell will headline Ravinia's annual Gala, which benefits the not-for-profit festival and its REACH*TEACH*PLAY* educational program. Bell will join the conductor James Conlon and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to perform the lushly romantic Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1. The performance takes place in the Pavilion on Saturday, July 26 at 7:00 p.m.. Pavilion tickets range from $25-$100, and lawn seats cost $10.

Kiri Te Kanawa performs on August 12
Kiri Te Kanawa performs on August 12 Ravinia Festival

Kiri Te Kanawa performs on August 12

Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, known to many from her appearance on "Downton Abbey", will celebrate her 70th birthday with a program that includes a world premiere piece commissioned from composer Jake Heggie for this performance. Ms. Te Kanawa will be accompanied by pianist Kevin Murphy. The recital takes place on Tuesday, August 12 at 8:30 p.m. In the Martin Theatre. Theater tickets cost $125 or $95, and lawn tickets are $10.

Yo-Yo Ma performs with The Knights on August 21
Yo-Yo Ma performs with The Knights on August 21 Ravinia Festival

Yo-Yo Ma performs with The Knights on August 21

Yo-Yo Ma, one of the world's most renowned cellists, will join The Knights chamber orchestra on August 21 to perform Ravel's and Richard Strauss's versions of "Don Quixote". The concert will also include works by glass, Stockhausen, and Milhaud. This concert takes place on Thursday, August 21 at 8:00 p.m. in the Pavilion. Tickets range from $95-$80. Lawn seats are $20.

Denis Matsuev and the CSO present a "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" on July 27
Denis Matsuev and the CSO present a "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" on July 27 Ravinia Festival

Denis Matsuev and the CSO present a "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" on July 27

Those who love to celebrate classical music with a bang will want to attend Ravinia's "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" with the CSO. This program features live cannons during its performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Pianist Denis Matsuev will perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. This concert is on Sunday, July 27 at 5:00 p.m. Pavilion tickets range from $80-$25. Lawn tickets are $10.

The CSO plays the film score to "The Return of the King" on August 7.
The CSO plays the film score to "The Return of the King" on August 7. henrysheehan.com

The CSO plays the film score to "The Return of the King" on August 7.

Movie music fans will want to check out the CSO's concert featuring the score of "The Return of the King". This performance concludes the orchestra's popular presentations of music from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The orchestra will play the music live while the movie is shown on giant LED video screens in the Pavilion and on the lawn. "The Return of the King" happens to be Ravinia's One Score, One Chicago selection this year. Additional resources will be available at Ravinia.org.  Performances take place on Thursday, August 7 and Friday, August 8 at 7:00 p.m.. Pavilion tickets are $50 or $25, and lawn tickets are $25.

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