A regular guest on the podium of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Manfred Honeck does double duty this season at Symphony Center.
Known for his attempts at reinvigorating well-known repertoire, the Austrian-born Honeck will lead the CSO in two residencies, the first in November and the second in January. He made his CSO debut in 1995 at the Ravinia Festival, where he substituted on short notice for James Conlon. His first CSO subscription concerts came in February 2002, and he has returned regularly since, most recently in June for an all-Mozart program.
In January, he returns for a program of works by fellow Austrians: Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25, with guest soloist Till Felner, for performances Jan. 25, 27 and 30. Earlier this season, for concerts Nov. 9-11, he stepped in for Christoph von Dohnányi, who had to withdraw to due to illness. Both residencies include concerts in the CSO’s Wheaton College series.
Now the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Honeck enjoys guest-conducting in the United States because he finds the musicians here to be “extremely professional.” They show up at rehearsals fully prepared and ready to make music, he observes. Such preparation means he can quickly get beyond just getting the notes right and focus on building a meaningful interpretation. “I’m not the type of conductor who wants to see a performance where everything is together and just go home,” he said. “This is not my style, because I distinguish between technical perfection and musical perfection. And to get 100 people in front of you to a musical perfection, that’s actually what I always want to gain.”