Music for a summer night


In the sea of concertgoers packing Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion lawn Wednesday evening, a small maroon-colored banner dots the landscape, marking the spot where more than 30 University of Chicago alumni have gathered for an evening at the Grant Park Music Festival.

“I come to many of these [events] to mingle and meet different alumni,” says Sandra Roth, X’52, joined by two friends around a folding picnic table. Before the concert begins, the trio pops open a bottle of Pinot Grigio over a Mediterranean assortment of baba ghanouj, grapes, and hummus.

“This tablecloth is from Provence, France,” says one of the friends, who supplied the picnic arrangement. Though not University alumni, the other two women accompany Roth to most Alumni Association programs, which are open to guests. “All of this folds and packs up very nicely,” she says. “I took it on the bus this morning when I left home.”

Entitled “Sagrado y Profano” (Sacred and Profane), the program gets under way and the crowd quiets down. Roth’s guests ease back in their folding chairs and take in the music. “Let’s just listen now,” one says, putting the conversation on indefinite hold.

Conductor Carlos Kalmar, music director of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, leads the Grant Park Orchestra’s performances of works by South American composers Heiter Villa-Lobos, Ariel Ramirez, and Antonio Estévez. Meanwhile, Roth points to an Alumni Association flyer promoting its next event, an August 27 polo match in suburban Oakbrook. She whispers to her companions, “Are you going to be there?”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photo: A sea of concertgoers at the Pritzker Pavilion (top); Roth, her friends, and their spread (bottom).

August 11, 2006