Chicago is well known for its arts and entertainment—summer music festivals, grand museum events, theatre performances, and so much more. A good deal of the entertainment you crave can be found for free, and while free concerts are happening every weekend in this bustling city, sometimes you still need to know where to look. Classical music lovers need look no further—these events are all local, all entertaining, and all free.
Grant Park Music Festival
Visit Grant Park east of the Loop for three free concerts a week through August 18th. Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., hear the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, led by Conductor Carlos Kalmar and Chorus Director Christopher Bell, play your favorite pieces of classical music, covering centuries of symphonies and operas. Upcoming performances include Brahm’s Double Concerto, Haydn: The Seasons, and The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, an Argentinean twist on Vivaldi’s famous work.
Rush Hour Concerts
On Tuesday evenings through the end of August, St. James Cathedral is hosting both local and nationally known classical musicians for free concerts. Concerts begin at 5:45 p.m., with a reception beginning at 5:15 p.m. in which visitors can meet and talk to the musicians. This summer, hear performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra brass quintet, the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Men’s Choir of Basel, and more. These concerts are free and accessible to the public.
Midwest Young Artists + Yang Yang Foundation
Head to Millennium Park on August 16th for a special concert featuring the Midwest Young Artists (MYA) Symphony Orchestra and students from the Yang Yang Young Scholars Program. The MYA is critically acclaimed as one of the top youth orchestras in the country, and the Yang Yang Foundation supports gifted young pianists. This special performance allows young musicians to give back to their community and foster an appreciation for classical music among the city’s youth. The free concert begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center is home to several musical performance series. Classical Mondays, every Monday of the year at 12:15 p.m. in Preston Bradley Hall, features a variety of chamber music selections performed by Chicago’s top instrumentalists and vocalists. On Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m., also in Preston Bradley Hall, see the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, which feature classical music performances that specifically showcase the talent of young musicians. Can’t make it to the Cultural Center on Wednesdays? The Dame Myra Hess concerts also broadcast live on WFMT 98.7 FM.