Beyond formal reviews lauding Riccardo Muti’s stellar conducting and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s unparalleled technique and artistry, expressions of esteem also flooded articles highlighting the CSO’s recent U.S. tour, which took place from Oct. 27 to 30. One reviewer even quoted the lament of an envious friend unable to attend the Oct. 30 concert in Chapel Hill: “I’d have paid anything to have been there.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s tour kicked off on Oct. 27 in Kansas City, Mo., to a packed hall. On Oct. 29, the orchestra traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to play a sold-out concert at Hill Auditorium. The tour concluded on Oct. 30 in Chapel Hill, N.C., with another capacity crowd at the Carolina Performing Arts Memorial Hall. Each concert presented a combination of grand repertoire chosen to feature the orchestra’s brilliant technique and sensitive interpretational skills: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.

Between traveling, rehearsing and sampling local barbecue (if their schedules allowed), CSO musicians also made time to teach master classes and lead panel discussions presented by the CSO’s Negaunee Music Institute. On Oct. 28, CSO brass, woodwind, string and percussion players worked with students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, CSO brass section members led additional master classes and a panel discussion with students on Oct. 31.

Just as each concert hall filled to the brim with eager fans, each educational activity, inspired by Muti’s desire to connect the CSO with communities outside the concert hall, overflowed with students excited to interact with the musicians.

In an interview with the Kansas City Star, Muti spoke fondly of the CSO: “It is the most European of the American orchestras,” he declared. “It has the precision and the strong attack of sound that is typical of the American orchestras, but also a flexibility that makes this orchestra very versatile.”

While the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is “Chicago’s Own,” the recent U.S. tour solidified another fortunate fact: It is indeed the “World’s Best.”

Laura Sauer is a CSO marketing associate.

TOP: Riccardo Muti slashes the air with his baton as the CSO performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 at Helzberg Hall in Kansas City. | © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015