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Thirsty Ears, Chicago's Only Classical Music Street Festival Returns to Ravenswood

Production company, music school and contemporary classical music advocate Access Contemporary Music (ACM) presents its 4th annual Thirsty Ears Festival, Chicago’s only classical music street festival, Saturday, August 10 from 1:00 – 10:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 11 from 1:00 – 8:00 p.m. (rain or shine). Thirsty Ears Festival is held in the Ravenswood neighborhood on Wilson Ave. from Hermitage Ave. to Ravenswood Ave.

​Across three stages, Thirsty Ears Festival presents classical music performances, from Baroque to Contemporary, in an unexpected setting. The annual street festival attracts an audience of thousands, most of whom are new to classical music. Highlights of this year’s Thirsty Ears Festival include a performance of “1,001 Afternoons in Chicago” in collaboration with director Anderson Lawfer featuring stories by Ben Hecht adapted into this ‘radio play’ for live musicians and voices, a 1-hour presentation of modern silent films from ACM’s Sound of Silent Film Festival projected on a giant inflatable screen while ACM’s ensemble performs each film score live in the street, and an interactive ‘type along’ performance of Terry Riley's avant-garde 1964 composition "In C" with laptop computers led by the Loyola University Technology Ensemble (LUTE). Families will enjoy games all day and special performances from the Dinder Brothers Family Circus, plus a visit from WTTW’s Big Ideas Van. 

The ACM School of Music in embedded in four different Chicago communities through its storefront locations. The school encourages its students to incorporate musical creativity in their everyday life and teaches this creativity alongside traditional note reading.

As a production company, ACM creates innovative performances designed to foster creativity, allow for collaboration, and bring contemporary music to new audiences. Productions include the “Live at the Davis Theater” concert series, Discovery Series, Thirsty Ears Festival, Sound of Silent Film Festival – now performed in Chicago, New York, Austin, and Mexico City, an international collaboration with Open House projects, and commissioning initiative Composer Alive.

​For more information about ACM, visit www.acmusic.org.


Musicians perform for guests of the Thirsty Ears Classical Music Festival held in Ravenswood (photo by Elliot Mandel).