In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and WFMT-FM will launch a six-week series beginning April 7 of archival CSO concert performances and commercial recordings, all curated by Riccardo Muti.

“During these times of uncertainty, and with the absence of live music in our concert halls, I hope that people everywhere will remain connected to the wonderful artistry of the Chicago Symphony through these special programs,” said Muti, the CSO’s music director, referring to the closure since March 12 of Symphony Center and other concert halls worldwide due to the coronavirus crisis. The series, titled “From the CSO’s Archives: Maestro’s Choice — For All Music Lovers in These Difficult Times,” will consist of CSO concert programs conducted by Muti, CSO Resound recordings led by Muti and other maestros, as well as archival CSO concert performances and commercial recordings.

The Tuesday-night series, which will begin at 8 p.m. Central Time, will supplement the CSO’s Sunday-night nationally syndicated broadcasts on WFMT-FM (98.7). Along with the over-the-air broadcasts, the “Maestro’s Choice” series will be streamed on wfmt.com and on the WFMT app, and will be available on CSO Radio. 

“Chicago Symphony Orchestra audiences are extremely dedicated and enthusiastic about the orchestra, and the absence of live concerts represents a difficult time for all of our audiences,” said CSOA President Jeff Alexander. “We are grateful to Riccardo Muti, the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and to our cultural partner, WFMT, who have made this series possible.”

Among the performances selected for the series are Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2 with Yo-Yo Ma; Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with Kirill Gerstein, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, as well as archival recordings of Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, led by Fritz Reiner, CSO music director from 1953 to 1962.

From CSO Resound, the orchestra’s house label, the series will feature Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, led by Bernard Haitink, and  Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar), both led by Muti. A link to full program information for the series is available here.

“We know many of our listeners in Chicago and around the world are looking to us during this uncertain time for a moment of beautiful music and companionship, for connection with an art form that is timeless and enduring, and for music that raises spirits and offers refuge,” said Sandra Cordova Micek, president and CEO of WFMT and WTTW. “Providing access to the artistry of Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra not only fulfills our purpose to enrich lives, engage communities, and inspire exploration but is also an incredible gift to share with our audience.”

Maestro’s Choice” will continue through May 12, with the possibility of an extension. WFMT personality Kerry Frumkin will host the series, and supply commentary for featured selections. For more information, go to WFMT.com and cso.org.