To mark the centennial of the 1918 Armistice, which ended World War I, then regarded as “the war to end all wars,” the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association all season will present programming that offers timeless messages of hope and peace for the modern world.
The centerpiece of this programming is “A Time for Reflection — A Message of Peace,” a seven-week series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. These programs are presented with leadership support from Colonel (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), president and founder, Pritzker Military Foundation and the president/CEO of TAWANI Enterprises, Inc. “A Time for Reflection” is anchored by the world premiere of Threnos by composer Bruno Mantovani on CSO subscription concerts Oct. 15-17, conducted by guest conductor Marin Alsop.
Other concerts and events in “A Time for Reflection” consist of s ong recitals at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on Oct. 15 and at Mayne Stage on Oct. 23 with vocalists from the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center in World War I-era songs, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in a free SCP Presents Special Concert on Oct. 24, and a companion exhibit curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the CSO with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on display at Symphony Center.
Details of the “Time for Reflection” programming:
Song recitals: “In Flanders Fields: Songs from the Great War to Commemorate the Centennial of the Armistice” is a free vocal recital featuring tenor Mario Rojas and baritone Christopher Kenney of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center in works written during World War I (1914-1918) at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, 104 S. Michigan. The program features Ives’ In Flanders Fields and The Circus Band, as well as Gurney’s Ludlow and Teme, and Butterworth’s Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad. Seating is limited. Reservations are required for this free concert and will be accepted beginning Sept. 24. The Oct. 15 program also features remarks by World War I scholar William Brooks, an expert on wartime songs. On Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m., the same program is offered at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse, with a special cabaret-style, food and drink package ticket available for $100 per person.
World premiere of Mantovani’s Threnos: The focal point of “A Time for Reflection — A Message of Peace” will be three CSO subscription concerts Oct. 18-20 led by guest conductor Marin Alsop featuring the world premiere of Threnos by French composer Bruno Mantovani, 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,” said Mantovani, whose use of four snare drums adds to the work’s martial character. “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, virtuosic and extroverted.”
Other works on this program were composed in the years after World War I and World War II. Pianist Daniil Trifonov is the featured soloist in Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, which received its world premiere in 1921 by the CSO with the composer as soloist. English composer Frank Bridge’s Lament was written as an elegy to a young victim of the sinking of the Lusitania during WWI and Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3, which premiered in 1946, includes the poignant use of one of the composer’s most famous themes, also found in the Fanfare for the Common Man.
In free pre-concert conversations, CSO program annotator Phillip Huscher will join University of Michigan professor Mark Clague, an expert on the history of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” to discuss the issues of patriotism in WWI-era music and the creation of an American national anthem. There also will be free, pre-concert performances of World War I-era works by musicians from the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, founded during the 1919-20 season by Frederick Stock, the CSO’s second music director.
“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.: One of the nation’s leading military musical ensembles, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band performs in a free concert at Symphony Center. The only musical unit with the title “The President’s Own,” the band provides music for the president of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps. Its varied repertoire features new works for wind ensemble, traditional concert band literature, orchestral transcriptions and patriotic marches. Free tickets become available for this program on September 24, 2018.
Special exhibit : A companion exhibit to “A Time for Reflection — A Message of Peace,” curated by the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, will be on display in the first-floor Rotunda of Symphony Center. Using imagery from the Rosenthal Archives and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library collections, the exhibit examines how events before, during and after World War I affected the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago area in general. The free exhibit is open to the public during business hours and before and after concerts at Symphony Center from Oct. 2 through Nov. 18.
Related events: The CSO’s 2018-19 season programming explores a larger theme of “A Time for Reflection — A Message of Peace” through additional CSO and Symphony Center Presents concerts and related events. These events feature performances that anticipate the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice, including music director Riccardo Muti leading the CSO and the Chicago Symphony Chorus and distinguished soloists in Verdi’s Requiem on Nov. 8-10. Other CSO programs in the Season of Peace theme consist of concerts Dec. 6-8 and 11, Jan. 10-12, Feb. 21-23 and May 16-18 and 21.
On the SCP Piano Series on Oct. 28, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich will perform works by Bartók, Ravel, Birtwistle and Messiaen. On Dec. 2, pianist Cedric Tiberghein performs a program of works written between 1914 and 1919 by Scriabin, Szymanowski, Debussy, Bridge and Hindemith.
On the SCP Jazz series Nov. 2, contemporary ragtime pianist Reginald R. Robinson performs an SCP-commissioned tribute to James Reese Europe, whose 369th Regiment “Hellfighters” first brought black American music to France during World War I. The concert is a double bill also featuring the Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Roy Hargrove. In an SCP Special Concert on Nov. 5, Daniel Barenboim will lead his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. In addition, the Soweto Gospel Choir will appear in “Songs of the Free” at an SCP Special Concert on Nov. 16.
For more information about programs and events presented Oct. to Nov. 18, as well as related concerts and events during the 2018-19 season, go to cso.org/armistice.
TOP: In 1919, a parade of American soldiers marches down Michigan Avenue in a post-war celebration. | Photo: Kaufmann and Fabry, courtesy of Pritzker Military Museum & Library