Music in Chicago
The blues has been Chicago's claim to fame since Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy made it famous. But the city has an ecclectic mix of international, popular, and classical music to choose from and venues to showcase them all.
Featured Chicago Festivals
Select any of the following events for more information, schedule of performances and location…
Chicago Opera Theater reopened its doors in 2004 in a new downtown location, at the northern edge of Millennium Park. Situated at 205 East Randolph Street, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance is now the home of Chicago Opera Theater (COT). Its specially designed auditorium is the ultimate place to enjoy the magnificent sounds (and sights) of the Opera.
The Chicago Opera Theater was founded in 1974. Since then, it has brought flawless arias and world-famous classics to hundreds of thousands. COT produces first-class performances with an impressive roster of top directors, conductors, set designers and casts. In addition to a regular season of operatic concerts, COT hosts education and outreach programs, special recitals for young artists, and donor events.
House of Blues
329 N. Dearborn
The House of Blues is a Chicago institution that has welcomed music legends from every genre to its stage since opening in 1996. The famed music venue is easily recognized by its unusual exterior façade that boosts a very organic quality – as if you’re looking up at the underbelly of a great blue whale. Tucked in the shadows of the Marina City complex (better known as the Corncobs Towers), the House of Blues is a sought-after attraction, not only for its outstanding schedule of performers, but because of its excellent menu of southern-style cuisine.
There are two separate dining areas that accommodate 300 diners. One restaurant section is combined with the Back Porch Stage to create an intimate venue filled with an eclectic vibe unlike any you’ve ever experienced. The main hall spreads guests out between four elaborately decorated levels. An open floor lies before the elevated stage and that timeless House of Blues symbol of a heart on fire is prominently placed behind the spotlight drenched performers.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra Hall-Symphony Center
220 South Michigan Avenue
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of world’s leading musical organizations. The group puts on over 150 concerts and events every year, headed up by a pair of internationally acclaimed conductors and two composers-in-residence with their own notable accolades.
The Symphony Center is an incredible six-story building located directly across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago in the downtown Loop. The Center has several levels of seating, a restaurant, a grand ballroom, a remarkable rotunda and other elegant spaces used for special events and activities.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances are enhanced by the acoustic design of the hall, which rises up dramatically from the stage to ensure every seat also has a great view. Whether you come to hear the playful melodies of Peter and the Wolf or would rather catch the erratic tunes of a jazz band, the Symphony Center is an amazing Chicago music venue that should not be missed.
10550 Lunt Ave, Rosemont
When it’s not being used for Chicago Wolves hockey matches or DePaul University basketball games, Allstate Arena plays host to a broad range of entertainment options, including big-time bands and super popular musical acts.
Allstate Arena is located out by O’Hare International Airport in Rosemont, Illinois. Despite the fact that it is a hike from downtown Chicago, the caliber of performers at this 18,500-seat venue ensures every show is in demand and every seat is sold out. Roughly 150 events are scheduled for Allstate Arena each year, which draws around 1.5 million visitors annually. Internationally-renowned artists that have spent decades making albums and touring the world will most certainly make a stop at Allstate during their stint in the Midwest. Bands such as the Cure, the Police and Van Halen are time-honored rock groups taking the stage in 2008, playing to thousands of lighter-waving fans.
Lyric Opera of Chicago was founded in the mid-1950s (then called the Lyric Theatre). The company performs at The Civic Opera House, built in 1929. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the auditorium was bought by the Lyric Opera, at which point the theater underwent $100-million worth of improvements and renovations. Now, the Opera House is a sophisticated, state-of-the-art music hall that indulges both patrons and performers. In addition to modernizing the backstage features, updates were made to the front of the house with remodeled restrooms, revamped mezzanine lobby, and better accommodations for guests with disabilities. The original architecture and interior ornamentation was also carefully restored to preserve the precious vintage character of the historic Opera House.
Most people come to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to be swept up in the romance and fantasy of classic opera. Timeless tales, such as Madama Butterfly and Tristan und Isolde, never fail to pull at the heart strings and bring audience members to tears. Captivating set design, elaborate costumes and exquisite singers bring these age-old stories to life through song and imagination.
Many patrons of the arts are intrigued by the behind the scenes aspect of theater. The Backstage Tour of the Civic Opera House is a great way to see what happens beyond the curtain and to understand the importance of the crew in a production of such magnitude.
First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (formerly known as the Tweeter Center)
19100 Ridgeland, Tinley Park
Still known to many as the Tweeter Center, this suburban Chicago venue is the largest outdoor theater in the region. Between the pavilion seats and lawn areas, the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre holds 400,000 at a time. A great place to enjoy music during the warm weather months, people come from all over the city and suburbs to catch a concert in the open air theater.
First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre has a packed summer schedule with several shows per week that range from country singers to rap to classic rock. The season of operation is generally from May through mid-September. Every year fans gear up for the amazing line-up of musical acts that includes ‘80s pop-stars Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick and Generation X favorites A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Snoop Dogg. There are plenty of parking lots on the grounds and for most events parking is included in the price of the ticket.