Beginning this fall, a new podcast called Intermission at the CSO will present the voices of Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians and supporters as they share their experiences behind the scenes of CSO performances. Developed by CSO trumpet John Hagstrom and media producer Scott Brewer, each episode features one or more CSO voices in conversations about working together and overcoming challenges — alone and together.

Alongside their voices are musical excerpts from CSO recordings that provide longtime CSO fans with a familiar sound or introduce new listeners to the signature sound of the Orchestra.

The creation of a great symphony orchestra requires more than virtuosically accomplished musicians sitting in every chair. Players must also develop a virtuosity for building unified musical energy together.  This commitment to excellence eventually transforms the orchestra’s sound into something greater than the sum of its parts. It requires a long-term investment from the players, their musical leaders and a network of supporters.

Intermission at the CSO helps to explain how all of this happens, providing an inside look at how players build a transformative experience with the power of music in each performance. The podcast’s first episode features seven CSO musicians sharing their thoughts about working with conductors, including stories about past and present CSO music directors. Though the CSO’s regular concert schedule will not resume until 2021, listeners can remain connected to the Orchestra through Intermission at the CSO!

The series may be accessed free of charge via the podcast platform of one’s choice, including Simplecast, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon/Audible (coming soon) and of course, cso.org. To help sustain the CSO during its “intermission” while the ensemble weathers the COVID-19 crisis, please click here.

Some more information about the podcast:

Q. How are the conversations for each episode recorded to maintain social distancing?  

A. Each interview is conducted through the video conferencing platform Zoom, but each person also records his or her voice into a separate high-fidelity recorder, to be edited together later into the conversations featured within each episode.

Q. How long does it take to produce each episode?

A. In addition to the hours spent interviewing guests, each episode requires between 10 and 20 hours of production time.

Q. Has the CSO ever before produced a regular audio program featuring CSO musicians?

A. Yes. Former CSO Orchestra Manager George Kuyper (1899-1987) spoke to selected CSO musicians as part of a weekly  program for radio station WMAQ in the early 1950s.  The program was titled “Your Symphony Scrapbook.” In addition, musicians are interviewed on occasion for the CSO’s nationally syndicated, Sunday-night radio series co-produced by the WFMT Radio Network.

Q. Which CSO musicians are featured in the first episode?

A. John Bruce Yeh (clarinet), Jennifer Gunn (flute), Esteban Batallán (trumpet), James Smelser (horn), Lawrence Neuman (viola), Patricia Dash (percussion) and John Hagstrom (trumpet).

TOP: CSO trumpet section member John Hagstrom has helped to produce a new CSO podcast: InterMISSION @ the CSO. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography