Chicago’s premier presenter of international artists and ensembles, Symphony Center Presents offers programs highlighting the exceptional artistry of the world’s most distinguished musicians in four series — Piano, Chamber Music, Orchestras and Jazz — as well as Special Concerts.
The Symphony Center Presents Piano series celebrates keyboard artistry at the highest level in 10 Sunday afternoon concerts each season. Legendary keyboard masters and the next generation of virtuosos perform repertoire from eras ranging from Baroque to contemporary. Highlights include the SCP Piano Series debuts of French pianist Lucas Debargue and German pianist Martin Helmchen, and return appearances by Evgeny Kissin, Maurizio Pollini, Piotr Anderszewski and Mitsuko Uchida.
● Louis Lortie, Oct. 8: The Canadian pianist returns with a program of music by Franz Liszt, with selections from the composer’s musical travel guides, including the Années de pèlerinage (“Years of Pilgrimage”), works he has recorded to great acclaim.
● Piotr Anderszewski, Oct. 22: The Polish pianist offers a diverse program that demonstrates his immaculate control of touch and color, including works by Mozart and Chopin, and selections from Janáček’s set of folk-inspired miniatures, On the Overgrown Path.
● Lucas Debargue, Nov. 19: Making his SCP Piano Series debut, the French pianist (and Tchaikovsky Competition laureate) draws inspiration from many disciplines, including literature, painting, film and jazz.
● Mitsuko Uchida, Feb. 18: The Symphony Center favorite returns with an all-Schubert program, featuring three of the composer’s great piano sonatas.
● Boris Berezovsky, March 25: In a rare U.S. appearance, the acclaimed Russian pianist makes his long-anticipated SCP Piano debut.
● Emanuel Ax, April 8: The Symphony Center mainstay offers two Beethoven sonatas in a program that also features Bach’s Partita No. 5 and Liszt’s Tre sonetti del Petrarca.
● Maurizio Pollini, April 22: The legendary Italian pianist is one of the most respected performers on the international stage, renowned for noble, aristocratic interpretations of a broad repertoire, most notably the music of Chopin and Beethoven.
● Evgeny Kissin, May 13: Making a much-anticipated return in his first recital appearance at Symphony Center since the 2015-16 season, the pianist offers Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata and Rachmaninov preludes from Op. 23 and 32 and the Prelude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 3, No. 2.
● Yefim Bronfman, May 20: Two whimsical collections of humoresques by Schumann and contemporary German composer Jörg Widmann set the stage for a performance of Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka.
● Martin Helmchen, June 10: The German pianist, who performed as a soloist with the CSO in 2016, makes his SCP Piano debut with a celebration of the variation form, featuring examples by Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn, as well as the German contemporary composer Helmut Lachenmann.
SCP Chamber Music
The 2017-18 Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music series is a true blockbuster. Highlights of the series include the Chicago debut of a trio consisting of CSO Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Emanuel Ax, and a special collaboration between Itzhak Perlman and Martha Argerich.
● Joshua Bell, Nov. 10: The American violinist has captivated Chicago audiences for many years with his thrillingly energetic virtuosity.
● Ma, Kavakos and Ax, Feb. 25: A trio of classical music masters—cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Emanuel Ax—perform Brahms’ complete piano trios.
● Perlman and Argerich, March 18: Violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Martha Argerich appear in Orchestra Hall together as a duo for the first time. These two legendary musicians have played together on only a handful of occasions during their long careers. The program includes Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 4 and Franck’s Violin Sonata.
● Kissin and Emerson String Quartet, April 15: A pianist of phenomenal eloquence and technique, Evgeny Kissin appears alongside the superb Emerson String Quartet in works by Mozart, Fauré and Dvořák.
The Symphony Center Presents Orchestras series honors a long-standing tradition of welcoming the world’s finest orchestras to Orchestra Hall. In 2017-18, the series features appearances by the Mariinsky Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra.
● The Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev, Nov. 8: Russia’s venerable ensemble performs music from its homeland, Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony and Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto with Denis Matsuev as soloist, along with Strauss’ dramatic Ein Heldenleben.
● The Minnesota Orchestra, Jan. 28: Led by its music director Osmo Vänskä, the ensemble brings a program of Sibelius and Beethoven, signature composers for this renewed ensemble. Tchaikovsky’s popular First Piano Concerto, with soloist Inon Barnatan, rounds out the bill.
During the 2017/18 season, the CSO and Symphony Center Presents offer non-subscription special concerts that showcase today’s internationally renowned soloists and ensembles in a range of genres — classical, world, folk and jazz—as well as unique holiday programs.
● Bill Murray, Oct. 10: Chicago native and award-winning actor-comedian joins internationally acclaimed cellist Jan Vogler and musicians Mira Wang (violin) and Vanessa Perez (piano) for an evening of music by Bach, Beethoven and Shostakovich, and great literature by Walt Whitman and Ernest Hemingway.
● The China NCPA Orchestra, Oct. 28: Led by Chief Conductor Lü Jia, the ensemble performs a program of American composer Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto, which spotlights a traditional Chinese instrument, played by pipa virtuoso and Silk Road Ensemble member Wu Man. Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and a work by Qigang Chen round out the program.
● CSO Brass, Dec. 20: Aclaimed for its incredible power, matchless brilliance and dazzling virtuosity, the CSO Brass performs a concert of symphonic masterworks and traditional favorites.
● Lang Lang, March 4: Named by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” the musical phenomenon returns to Symphony Center for an afternoon recital.
● The Vienna Boys Choir, Nov. 25: Returning for its annual Symphony Center appearance, the vocal ensemble performs its festive Christmas in Vienna program of traditional and contemporary vocal selections.
● Chanticleer, Dec. 5-6: The Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble makes it annual visit to Chicago with a program of familiar and new seasonal pieces in a cappella arrangements. (Note location: Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut, Chicago.)
● “Home Alone,” Dec. 9-10: The holiday favorite returns to Symphony Center for three family-friendly performances. Composer John Williams’ charming and delightful score will be performed by Members of the CSO, led by conductor Richard Kaufman and featuring Anima-Young Singers of Greater Chicago, led by Emily Ellsworth.
Merry, Merry Chicago!, Dec. 15-17 and 22-23: This festive program, led by guest conductor Emil de Cou, features members of the CSO and the Chicago Children’s Choir in treasured carols and holiday favorites, as well as a visit by a special guest from the North Pole.
CSO at the Movies
CSO at the Movies offers live performances of great film scores played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Performances include feature films or film excerpts projected above the stage. The program dates for this popular Friday-night series are Nov. 24, Jan. 28 and April 27. The April 27 program is a special evening of music by the legendary film composer led by Williams from the podium. Additional programs will be announced at a later date.
Details of the 10-concert series will be announced in April.
TOP: The Mariinsky Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, returns to Chicago as part of the SCP Orchestra Series next season. | Todd Rosenberg Photography