Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Along with three world premieres next season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will welcome 16 guest artists in their Symphony Center debuts and will present the first performances of 11 works by leading composers.


Bruno Mantovani, Threnos, Oct. 18-20: The director of the Paris Conservatory and one of Europe’s most performed contemporary composers creates his first work, Threnos, for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Threnos will be is the focal point of the CSO’s World War I Armistice commemoration program led by guest conductor Marin Alsop. The work is commissioned by the CSO and the Pritzker Military Foundation.

“The term Threnos came into existence in ancient Greece and designates a funereal lamentation — be it musical or literary,” Mantovani said. “If modern composers such as Igor Stravinsky or Krzysztof Pendericki have given this title to their works, the Renaissance constitutes the golden age for this contemplative lament. Generally, a Threnos is a slow piece, even a static one.  I have made the opposite choice. In fact, here it entails a celebration that is at once violent, virtuostic and extraverted. The military quality comes from the use of four snare drums, which create a continuum extended to the orchestra through string tremolos and woodwind bisbigliandi [unmeasured rapid tremolo]. The texture is thus very dense, even in the most ethereal sections, and leans toward white noise, even saturation.”

The Joffrey Ballet, May 30-31 and June 1, 2019: The CSO welcomes Chicago’s own Joffrey Ballet for the company’s CSO debut in performances featuring world premiere choreography (choreographer to be announced at a later date), set to the music of Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto. This program also features Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet Commedia, set to the music of Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella. Matthias Pintscher will conduct the CSO.

James M. Stephenson, Bass Trombone Concerto, June 13-15: The Chicago-based composer, one of America’s most respected brass music specialists, creates a new concerto, commissioned by the CSO, for CSO Bass Trombone Charles Vernon. Riccardo Muti will conduct the premiere of this new work in a program that also features Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3.


Nicholas Angelich, March 7, 9-10, 2019: The American-born pianist, recognized for his performances of works by Brahms, Liszt and Beethoven, bows in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor).

Piotr Beczała , Nov. 8-10: The acclaimed Polish tenor, a favorite at the Metropolitan Opera and other leading houses, makes his subscription debut in Verdi’s Requiem, under Riccardo Muti.

Nicola Benedetti, Dec. 13-15: After an acclaimed performance in Wynton Marsalis’ Concerto in D at Ravinia in 2016, the violinist returns to the CSO for her subscription debut in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

Fabien Gabel, April 18-20 and 23: The French conductor makes his CSO debut in a program featuring works by Bartók, Debussy and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, with Emanuel Ax as soloist.

Edward Gardner, Dec. 6-8 and 11: After appearing at Ravinia in 2017, the former music director of the English National Opera and chief conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic joins the CSO in works by Wagner, Strauss and Nielsen for his subscription concert debut.

Alexander Gavrylyuk, Nov. 15-18: Hailed as “one of the greatest discoveries of the past decade,” the Russian-born, Australian pianist will be the soloist under Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Benjamin Grosvenor, April 11-13: After receiving raves for his SCP Piano recital debut in 2017, the English pianist joins the CSO for his subscription series bow in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Giancarlo Guerrero, May 23-26: The music director of the Nashville Symphony and the Wrocław Philharmonic marks his CSO podium debut in a program of music by Spanish and Argentinian composers.

Matthew Halls, Dec. 20-23: A noted interpreter of Baroque music, the English conductor will lead the CSO in a yuletide engagement of Handel’s Messiah.

Joshua Hopkins, Dec. 20-23: Recently named by Opera News as one of 25 artists to watch, the Canadian baritone will join the CSO in Handel’s Messiah, after making his local bow in Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015.

Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, Nov. 29-30, Dec. 1 and 4: The CSO’s principal flute makes his solo debut in Mozart’s Flute Concerto in D Major, K. 314.

The Joffrey Ballet, May 30-31 and June 1: The Chicago-based company makes a much-anticipated debut with the CSO in a special program featuring acclaimed choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet Commedia, set to the music of Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella, and the world premiere of new choreography set to the music of Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto.

Mika Kares, Nov. 8-10: The Finnish bass makes his CSO debut in Mozart’s Requiem, under Muti.

Sara Mingardo, Nov. 8-10: The Italian contralto makes her CSO debut in Mozart’s Requiem.

Thomas Søndergård, Nov. 15-18: Music director designate for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Danish conductor will lead the CSO in works by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.

Alexey Tikhomirov, Sept. 21-22 and 25: The Russian bass, who has performed with Riccardo Muti in Rome, Salzburg and Vienna, makes his CSO debut in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar).

Benedetta Torre, Nov. 8-10: The Italian soprano makes her CSO debut in Mozart’s Requiem, under Muti.

Pablo Sáinz Villegas, May 23-26: Praised for the exuberance and passion of his playing, the Spanish-born guitarist will be the soloist in Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.

Vittoria Yeo, Nov. 8-10: Acclaimed for her performances in the operas of Verdi, Puccini and Mozart, the Korean soprano joins the CSO and Muti in Verdi’s Requiem.

Simone Young, June 6-8 and 11: Formerly artistic director of the Hamburg State Opera and music director of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra from 2005 to 2015, the Australian conductor is acclaimed for her interpretations of works by Wagner, Strauss and Bruckner. Her program consists of Liszt’s Prometheus, Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Funeral March from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and Brahms’ (orchestrated by Schoenberg) Piano Quartet No. 1.


In addition to world premieres, the CSO will perform 11 works for the first time during its 2018-19 season:
● Ken Benshoof, Concerto in Three Movements for Piccolo and Orchestra (March 14-16, 2019)
● Frank Bridge, Lament (1915) (Oct. 18-20)
● John Corligliano, One Sweet Morning from One Sweet Morning (Jan. 10-12)
● Walter Damrosch, “Danny Deever” (1897), for baritone and orchestra, based a poem by Rudyard Kipling (Jan. 10-12)
● Michael Daugherty, “Letter to Mrs. Bixby” from Letters from Lincoln (2009), for baritone and orchestra (Jan. 10-12)
● Franz Liszt, Prometheus (June 6-8, and 11)
● Astor Piazzolla, Sinfonía Buenos Aires, Op. 15 (May 23- 26, 2019)
● Sergei Prokofiev, Sinfonietta, Op. 5 (Sept. 21-22, and 25)
Einojuhani Rautavaara,A Requiem in Our Time (1953), for brass band and percussion (May 16-18 and 21, 2019)
● William Schuman, Symphony No. 9 (Le fosse Ardeatine) (Feb. 21-23, 2019)
● William Grant Still, In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy (1944) (Jan. 10-12)


TOP: The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago will make its CSO debut next season. | Photo: Cheryl Mann/Joffrey Ballet