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And they’re off! Under the cover of night, musicians and staff of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra departed from O’Hare International Airport for their 2019 Asia Tour, with stops in Taiwan, China and Japan.

The tour, the 61st international trip for the CSO and the second to Asia for the orchestra under Music Director Riccardo Muti, consists of 11 concerts from Jan. 19 to Feb. 4. While on tour, the orchestra will perform a diverse set of works including symphonies of Brahms and Tchaikovsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral showpiece Sheherazade, as well as Verdi’s Requiem. Between concerts, CSO musicians will participate in educational and community-engagement activities, including master classes and goodwill visits.

Of course, there will be time for sightseeing and meeting colleagues and friends. After the orchestra landed in Taiwan, CSO oboe Lora Schaefer happened to run into an old friend at the baggage carousels. The friend was returning to Taipei just as the orchestra arrived. Life doesn’t get any more serendipitous than that.

For more coverage, go to the tour page on and be sure to check for updates on Sounds & Stories, the CSO’s Facebook page and other social media outlets, including Twitter and Instagram.