Rush Hour concerts a 'free' way to enjoy music

2014-06-17T16:00:00Z 2014-06-18T15:38:46Z Rush Hour concerts a 'free' way to enjoy musicEloise Marie Valadez, (219) 933-3365

Music fans who work in downtown Chicago can enjoy a variety of genres during the annual summer season of "Rush Hour Concerts."

The live music series, now in its 15th year, is held at 5:45 p.m. every Tuesday at St. James Cathedral in Chicago. A pre-concert reception with featured artists starts at 5:15 p.m. in the foyer of the cathedral.

"It's obviously a wonderful thing for any organization to last this long," said Brant Taylor, interim artistic director for Rush Hour Concerts. "Rush Hour has a unique place in the Chicago cultural landscape."

Taylor said the free concert series draws a good crowd every week. Featured on the agenda are various classical musical acts who'll perform assorted compositions.

"We put a great deal of thought into every season," said Taylor, who stepped in as interim director after the sudden death in January of the series founder and director Deborah Sobol.

He said this monumental 15th anniversary of the Rush Hour Concerts will be held in honor of Sobol.

"Our July 15 concert will be a special concert honoring her based around the music of Bach, which was one of Deborah's favorites," he said.

In addition, a concert on Aug. 19 will be a 15th anniversary commissioned World Premiere featuring the Jason Seed Stringtet.

Interim director Taylor has been a longtime performer for Rush Hour Concerts and he's also a cellist with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

He said audiences for the music shows have grown through the years and include various ages as well as the after-work crowd, tourists and others.

"We have a devoted audience," he said.

The shows run 30 to 45 minutes, which Taylor said is a good amount of time for people who are popping in after work before they have to catch a train. Concerts attract anywhere from 400 to 600 people.

"When Deborah started the series, she said she had 17 people in the audience," Taylor said.

Upcoming shows include:

June 21: Make Music Chicago, which is a special program presented by Rush Hour Concerts, that will also include more than 100 free events at more than 60 locations across the city. The grand finale of the day takes place at St. James Cathedral followed by an outdoor party at the St. James Commons.

June 24: Aaron Copeland: "Appalachian Spring" featuring members of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestras

July 1: Emo Dohnanyi: String Trio

July 15: "All-Bach Double-Header" in honor of Deborah Sobol and featuring Sones de Mexico Ensemble and Bruce Barber

July 22: Beethoven featuring Brant Taylor and Kuang-Hao Huang

For a list of other concerts, visit

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