The Grant Park Music Festival, a cherished tradition in Chicago, is back for its 2024 season, promising a summer filled with mesmerizing performances that cater to a wide variety of musical tastes, From June 12th through August 17th, the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus will deliver a lineup rich with classical masterpieces, contemporary works, and engaging thematic concerts under the artistic direction of Carlos Kalmar. For the residents of Optima Signature® and Optima Lakeview®, the festival offers a splendid opportunity to engage with Chicago’s vibrant cultural scene.

The Grant Park Music Festival is a significant cultural event in Chicago, celebrated for its nearly 90-year tradition of making classical music accessible to all. The festival was born out of the Great Depression as a collaborative effort between Mayor Anton Cermak and James C. Petrillo, the president of the musicians’ union, to provide free, high-quality musical performances to lift the spirits of Chicagoans during tough times.

Grant Park Music Festival, Pritzker Pavilion. Credit: Farrah Malik, Silverman Group on Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Since its inception in 1935, the festival has become a beloved summer tradition. The Chicago Park District officially established the Grant Park Orchestra in 1944 under the leadership of Principal Conductor Nikolai Malko. Over the decades, the orchestra has been guided by illustrious conductors such as Irwin Hoffman, Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, and Hugh Wolff, with Carlos Kalmar taking over as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 2000.

In 1962, the Grant Park Chorus was founded, initially led by Thomas Peck. The chorus has since thrived under the direction of Christopher Bell, who has been at the helm since 2002, adding a rich vocal dimension to the festival’s offerings.

The festival’s venues have evolved alongside its artistic growth. Originally held in a temporary bandshell near the Field Museum, the festival moved to the Petrillo Bandshell in 1978, named after its founder. In 2004, it found a new home at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, a state-of-the-art facility designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. This venue offers an unparalleled auditory experience, perfectly complementing the festival’s high-caliber performances.

Today, the Grant Park Music Festival operates as a collaboration between the Grant Park Orchestral Association, the Chicago Park District, and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. It continues to offer an array of concerts, artistic development programs, radio broadcasts, and community engagement initiatives, all free to the public. This commitment to accessibility and excellence in music performance reflects the festival’s enduring legacy and its transformative impact on the city of Chicago.

The festival’s mission resonates deeply with the community-oriented culture of Optima®’s properties, including Optima Signature® and Optima Lakeview®,allowing its special blend of artistic vibrancy and communal engagement to bring people together through the universal language of music.


To learn more about the 2024 season, visit the Grant Park Music Festival website here.