The guest conductors returning to the Orchestra Hall podium in 2020-21 run the gamut from Marin Alsop to Xian Zhang, with repertoire ranging from established masterworks to modern fare.
In chronological order:
Marek Janowski, Oct, 15-17: Recently named chief conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic, the Polish-born German maestro will lead a program of German Romantic music, his specialty: Weber’s overture to The Ruler of the Spirits and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3. On the same program, pianist Benjamin Grosvenor makes his CSO debut in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
Xian Zhang, Oct. 29-31: Music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, she is a champion of Chinese composers. With the CSO, she will conduct L’Eloignement (2003) for string orchestra by Qigang Chen on a program that also features Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Simon Trpčeski and the suite from Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin.
Bramwell Tovey, Nov. 5-8: An award-winning conductor, composer and classical/jazz pianist, the British native will lead the CSO in American works including the full orchestral version of Copland’s Suite from Appalachian Spring, paired with the composer’s jazzy and lyrical Clarinet Concerto with CSO Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson as soloist. Also on the program are the world premiere of a CSO-commissioned work by Gabriela Lena Frank, Florence Price’s Ethiopia’s Shadow in America and Leonard Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs and Three Dance Episodes from the musical On the Town.
Edward Gardner, Nov.12-14: Chief conductor of the Bergen Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor designate of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the British maestro will direct the CSO in a diverse program of Wagner’s Prelude to Parsifal, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk and Walton’s Symphony No. 1.
Emmanuel Krivine, Nov.19-22: Music director of the Orchestre National de France, the Gallic conductor will lead the CSO in Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture and Zemlinsky’s symphonic fantasy The Mermaid. Yulianna Avdeeva, the 2010 winner of the Chopin International Competition, makes her CSO debut in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
Michael Tilson Thomas, Dec. 10-12: The American conductor and composer, who becomes music director laureate of the San Francisco Symphony this year, will present the CSO’s first performances of his Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, with text based on poems by Illinois native Carl Sandburg. Acclaimed vocalist Measha Brueggergosman, featured in the work’s premiere, joins vocalists Kristen Toedtman and Kara Dugan for these concerts. Also on the program are Ruggles’ Angels and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 (Little Russian).
Edo de Waart, Dec. 17-19: The Dutch-born conductor will lead the CSO in a program highlighting three young rising violin stars: Stella Chen, Sergei Dogadin and Timothy Chooi, all recent prize winners. Opening with Berlioz’s overture to Beatrice and Benedict, the concert also features the Traumerei am Kamin, a symphonic interlude from Richard Strauss’ opera Intermezzo and concludes with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 (Italian).
Adam Fischer, Jan. 7-9 and 12: Returning for his first CSO subscription concerts since 1985, the Hungarian-born conductor is music director of the Düsseldorf Symphony and founder of the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra. His recordings of Haydn’s complete 104 symphonies remain the gold standard, and he employs his expertise to conduct the CSO in Haydn’s Symphony No. 97, as well as Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World). The program also features Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Martin Helmchen as soloist.
David Afkham, Jan. 28-31: The German-born conductor has become an Orchestra Hall regular since his subscription series debut in 2016. After an acclaimed performance of Richard Strauss’ tone poem Death and Transfiguration in 2019, he will conduct the CSO in Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist.
Osmo Vänskä, Feb. 4-6 and 9: The Finnish-born conductor will lead a program featuring French cellist Gautier Capuçon in Elgar’s Cello Concerto, as well as Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (Scottish), and Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s evocative Winter Sky from Orion.
Herbert Blomstedt, Feb. 11-13: The dean of classical music maestros will conduct a program of Scandinavian works, including the interlude from Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar’s cantata The Song and Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 5. Pianist Igor Levit makes his CSO subscription debut in Schumann’s Piano Concerto.
Manfred Honeck, Feb. 18-20 and 23: Music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed for his insightful interpretations of Bruckner, the Austrian-born conductor will lead the CSO in the composer’s Symphony No. 7 on a program that also features Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Christian Tetzlaff as soloist.
Marin Alsop, Feb. 26-27: The American maestra will conduct the CSO’s premiere of Her Story, a new work by composer Julia Wolfe, co-commissioned by the CSO with the Nashville, Boston, National and San Francisco symphonies. The work marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed American women the right to vote, and features the CSO debut of the Lorelei Ensemble. Also on the program are American composer Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances.
Thomas Søndergård, April 1-3: Currently principal conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Søndergård made his CSO subscription concert debut in 2018. He returns to conduct a program of British and Finnish works: Walton’s Scapino, A Comedy Overture, commissioned by the CSO for its 50th season; Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, and Britten’s Violin Concerto with acclaimed virtuoso Janine Jansen.
Simone Young, April 15-17 and 20: An important interpreter of works of the late Romantic style, the Australian native is chief conductor designate of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, becoming its chief conductor in 2022. After her acclaimed CSO debut in 2019, she returns to lead the orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 7.
Tugan Sokhiev, April 22-24: A native of North Ossetia and now music director and chief conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre, he directs an all-Russian program anchored by Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12 (The Year 1917), a programmatic work commemorating the Russian Revolution. Vadim Gluzman is soloist in Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The program opens with the prelude to Mussorgsky’s opera Khovanshchina, as orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Giovanni Antonini, April 29-30 and May 1 and 4: A Baroque specialist and director of Il Giardino Armonico, he will lead a program of Vivaldi and Handel opera arias, concerti grossi and Vivaldi choral works featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with soprano soloists Amanda Forsythe and Yulia Van Doren and mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne.
Philippe Jordan, May 6-8: Music director of the Opéra National de Paris and principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Swiss-born conductor becomes general music director of the Vienna State Opera in 2020. In his first CSO appearance since 2007, he will conduct Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 5 (Egyptian) with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist and Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The concert concludes with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
Mikko Franck, May 20-22 and 25: The Finnish-born maestro will lead a program of late Romantic works, as well as the world premiere of Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg’s CSO commission. Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang performs Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Two pieces by Richard Strauss, Don Juan and the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, round out the program.
TOP: Marin Alsop returns to lead the CSO in a salute the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage.