The Grant Park Orchestra opens the 2021 Grant Park Music Festival at Millennium Park, Chicago, July 2. Photo: Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“The Grant Park Music Festival returned with outdoor, live classical music concerts—at full seating capacity without social distancing—Friday night in Millennium Park,” writes Nicole Shaw in Friday’s (6/2) Chicago Sun-Times. “Droves of concertgoers entered the festival for the ‘Independence Day Salute’ program, with artistic director and principal conductor Carlos Kalmar returning to lead the Grant Park Orchestra at the Pritzker Pavilion…. The festival was established in 1935 to lift people’s spirits and bring people together through cultural arts during the Great Depression. Eighty-six years later, that same feeling of hope and togetherness reemerged as music fans returned to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all large-scale gatherings, indoors or out, more than a year ago. ‘On many levels, this is a really symbolic moment, both for the city and for the performing arts here in Chicago,’ Paul Winberg, president and CEO of the Grant Park Music Festival, said.” The program included works by Scott Joplin, Florence Price, John Philip Sousa, Tchaikovsky, George Walker, and John Williams. The Grant Park Music Festival runs for eight weeks, with free concerts on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.