The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Center Presents offer audiences many opportunities to experience the CSO’s renowned musicians and visiting guest artists, conductors and ensembles during the upcoming season at Symphony Center. How do we count the ways? Well, here comes 2020-21: By the Numbers.
1. One year before Edward Gardner is set to become the principal conductor of the London Philharmonic (a post once held by Georg Solti), the fast-rising English maestro returns (Nov. 12-14) to conduct the CSO in a program that includes Walton’s Symphony No. 1.
2. On its main subscription series, the CSO will present two world premieres of commissioned works by American composer Gabriela Lena Frank (Nov. 5-8) and Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg (May 20, 21, 22 and 25, 2021).
3. The Symphony Center Presents Orchestras Series will showcase three esteemed visiting orchestras: Kirill Petrenko and the Berlin Philharmonic (Nov. 15), Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra (Feb. 14) and Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (March 13). (Please note: As of June 26, the Berlin Philharmonic appearance has been canceled. Refunds available at point of purchase.)
4. On the CSO’s podium next season, four guest conductors will be women. Three have led the CSO in the past – Marin Alsop, Simone Young and Xian Zhang – and Jane Glover, the internationally acclaimed British conductor, known to local audiences as music director of Music of the Baroque, makes her CSO debut.
5. Five years after the much-anticipated Metropolitan Opera debut of her celebrated opera, L’amour de loin (Love from afar), the CSO will present Winter Sky from the Finnish-born Kaija Saariaho’s 2002 orchestral work, Orion (Feb. 4, 5, 6 and 9).
6. Maurizio Pollini, the revered Italian keyboardist whose career stretches more than a half-century, returns for a Symphony Center Presents recital (May 9, 2021) that includes Schoenberg’s Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19, and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106 (Hammerklavier).
7. Seven instruments will be featured (April 25, 2021) when Amanda Forsyth and Pinchas Zukerman, performing on both violin and viola, join the Jerusalem Quartet for an SCP Chamber Music Series program.
8. The 1945 orchestral suite from Aaron Copland’s ballet Appalachian Spring has eight movements, and they will all be heard as part of an all-American program with guest conductor Bramwell Tovey (Nov. 5-8).
9. Since 1977, John Williams has written the music for the nine central films in the Stars Wars trilogies — an extraordinary achievement. His Academy Award-nominated score for the 2015 film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will be featured (Nov. 27-29) as a CSO at the Movies concert
10. The Symphony Center Presents Piano Series will showcase 10 internationally recognized keyboardists, including two making their SCP debuts: Seong-Jin Cho (March 28, 2021) and Anna Vinnitskaya (Nov. 1).
11. Returning for his 11th season as music director, Riccardo Muti will lead the orchestra in 10 weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall and travel with the ensemble on domestic tours to Missouri, California and Florida.
12. Tugan Sokhiev, music director and chief conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre, oversees an all-Russian program (April 22-24, 2021) featuring Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12 (The Year 1917). The programmatic work commemorates the Russian Revolution.
13. Thomas Adès’ 2018 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra will receive its 13th, 14th and 15th performances by the CSO (March 25-26 and 30, 2021). The British composer, who doubles as a conductor, will lead the performances in his debut with the orchestra.
14. An array of critters are represented in the 14 movements of Camille Saint-Saëns’ witty musical suite, The Carnival of the Animals, which the CSO will perform in a Family Matinee program (11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Feb. 20).
15. Fifteen years after earning her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University, Gurnee native and Ryan Opera Center alumna Amanda Majeski will make her CSO debut (April 8 and 10) as soloist in Wagner’s song cycle Wesendonck Lieder.
16. Next season, the CSO will perform 16 works for the first time, including Luigi Cherubini’s Mass for the Coronation of Charles X, which was first performed in Reims, France, in 1825 (March 4-6).
17. Lalo Schifrin’s Concerto for Tuba was composed in 2017 and received its premiere the following year by the Redlands (Calif.) Symphony and Gene Pokorny, the CSO’s principal tuba. He will serve as soloist for the CSO’s first performances of the work (Jan. 14-16).
18. The 2020-21 season marks Glover’s 18th year as music director of Music of the Baroque, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In her CSO guest conducting debut, she will lead works by Handel, Haydn and Mozart (Dec. 3-5 and 8).
19. To celebrate the 19th Amendment, which granted U.S. women the right to vote, the CSO will present (Feb. 26-27) its first performances of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe’s Her Story. The work was co-commissioned by the CSO and the Boston, Nashville, National and San Francisco symphonies.
20. Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have designated 2020 as the Year of Chicago Music. The CSO’s free Concert for Chicago (Sept. 17) at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is part of that citywide celebration.