Visit cso.org/alert for important patron information about programming updates for the 2020/21 season.
For his 11th season as music director, Riccardo Muti will lead 10 weeks of subscription programs. In addition, he will conduct the annual Symphony Ball concert, the annual Concert for Chicago and CSO tour performances.
Muti’s programs offer wide-ranging repertoire by Beethoven, Brahms, Britten, Cherubini, Cimarosa, Elgar, Kraft, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rossini, Schubert, Schifrin, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Varèse, Verdi and Wagner.
Sept. 17: The season officially opens with what has become an annual tradition for Muti and the orchestra. This year’s Concert for Chicago features Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s tone poem Sheherazade in a free performance at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Sept. 18 and 20: Muti opens his 11th season as music director with a program of Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, with Principal Flute Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson and Principal Harp Sarah Bullen as soloists, followed by Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (The Great).
Sept. 24-26: To cap the season-spanning programs marking the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, Muti leads three performances of the composer’s greatest sacred work, Missa solemnis. The program features the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Chorus and distinguished soloists — soprano Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, contralto Gerhild Romberger, tenor Matthew Polenzani and bass Tareq Nazmi.
Oct. 1-2: Muti collaborates with celebrated pianist Yefim Bronfman in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1. The program also features the overture to Wagner’s Tannhäuser and French-American composer Edgard Varèse’s Arcana, a work of orchestral color that offers a spectrum of timbres and instrumental layers.
Oct. 3: Muti conducts the annual Symphony Ball concert, inspired by the CSO’s season-spanning programming that recognizes the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, with the composer’s iconic Fifth Symphony and Piano Concerto No. 3 with soloist Yefim Bronfman.
Oct. 22-24 and 27: Muti’s second October program presents two British views of the sea, Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes and Elgar’s Sea Pictures with internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Alice Coote. Completing the program is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.
Jan. 14-16: Muti returns for a concert highlighting CSO musicians. First, the string section is featured in Vivaldi’s Concerto in A Major for Strings and Continuo. Principal Timpani David Herbert makes his CSO solo debut in William Kraft’s Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, and Principal Tuba Gene Pokorny is featured in the CSO’s first performances of Lalo Schifrin’s Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, written for Pokorny in 2018. Schifrin’s familiar theme from Mission: Impossible also will be performed, with Respighi’s colorful tone poem Feste Romane as a festive finale.
March 4-6: Muti begins a three-week March residency, when the orchestra joins the Chicago Symphony Chorus for the CSO’s first performances of Luigi Cherubini’s Mass for the Coronation of Charles X. A life-long champion of the late Classical-era Italian composer Cherubini, Muti has performed and recorded all of his sacred works over nearly 50 years. Two other works on this program give prominence to the male voices of the Chorus: Schubert’s Song of the Spirits Over the Waters and Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili.
March 9: With Muti on the podium, Concertmaster Robert Chen is the soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4. Continuing past seasons’ explorations of Shostakovich symphonies, Muti and the CSO present Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10.
March 18-20: Muti’s third March program includes several works by Mozart, including his Symphony No. 38 (Prague) and the Serenade No. 10 (Gran Partita). The program opens with the overture to Il matrimonio segreto by Mozart’s contemporary, Domenico Cimarosa.
June 3-5: Returning for his final residency of the season, Muti conducts an all-Russian program, reuniting with pianist Daniil Trifonov in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (the work’s first CSO subscription performance was given at Orchestra Hall in 1930, with the composer as soloist). The concerto is framed by a tone poem of Anatoly Liadov, The Enchanted Lake, a “fairy-tale scene” in the guise of a mood picture, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique).
June 10 and 12-13: For the season finale, Muti conducts a program of Italian opera selections with two Orchestra Hall favorites: soprano Krassimira Stoyanova and tenor Francesco Meli.
The CSO’s music director position is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation.
TOP: Riccardo Muti returns for 10 weeks of concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography