For his eighth season as music director, Riccardo Muti will lead 10 weeks of subscription programs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he will conduct the CSO’s annual Symphony Ball gala (on Sept. 22), a free community concert in November, 15 performances on tour and a return with the CSO to Wheaton College as part of the orchestra’s second annual concert series at that venue.
His subscription programs continue his exploration of Bruckner’s symphonies with the CSO, showcase masterworks from the choral repertoire, celebrate the musical legacy of Rossini, feature a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and honor a century of works by American composers. In addition, Muti leads three world premieres by contemporary American composers: a CSO-commissioned work by Mead Composer-in-Residence Elizabeth Ogonek, a low brass concerto by Jennifer Higdon and a work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra by CSO viola Max Raimi.
● Sept. 23 and 26: Muti opens the CSO’s 2017-18 season with Anne-Sophie Mutter in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, followed by Krzysztof Penderecki’s orchestral work The Awakening of Jacob.
● Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 1: In his second subscription concert, Muti continues his exploration of Bruckner’s symphonies with the majestic Fourth (Romantic). In addition, he conducts the world premiere of a CSO-commissioned work for full orchestra by Mead Composer-in-Residence Elizabeth Ogonek. Opening the program is Rossini’s William Tell overture, which launches a season-long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death.
● Nov. 16-18 and 21: Muti reunites with pianist Kirill Gerstein for Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1. The two previously joined forces in the 2015-16 season for Scriabin’s Prometheus. As contrast, the program also includes Strauss’ suite from Le bourgeois gentilhomme and Puccini’s Preludio sinfonico.
● Feb. 1-3: Muti leads the CSO’s low brass section in a new concerto by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. Completing the program are Britten’s dark and dramatic Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes and Chausson’s Poem of Love and the Sea, featuring mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine.
● Marcb 15-17: Muti returns with a program of classical poise and beauty, with works by Mozart and Haydn. Renowned violist Paul Neubauer joins CSO Concertmaster Robert Chen for Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante, and symphonies by Mozart (Linz) and Haydn (Symphony No. 89).
● March 22-24: The following week features the choral music of Schubert, as Muti leads the orchestra and chorus in the Mass No. 6. Three Lisel Müller Settings, new work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra by CSO viola and composer Max Raimi, features soloist Elizabeth DeShong in her CSO debut.
● April 12-14 and 17: Muti returns in April with a program of works that embody the American spirit. Copland’s inspirational Lincoln Portrait uses the words of Abraham Lincoln to convey the story of an individual life and a diverse nation. Dvořák’s New World Symphony is one of the most beloved portraits of American folk music. The program also offers an opportunity to hear the music of 94-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker.
● April 19-21: The following week, Muti conducts the music of Debussy and Tchaikovsky, in a program that explores these composers’ approach to two genres: the ballet (Tchaikovsky’s suite from Swan Lake and Debussy’s Sacred and Profane Dances featuring CSO Principal Harp Sarah Bullen) and the symphonic poem (Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, and Debussy’s ethereal Nocturnes featuring the Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus).
● June 14-16: The first of his two June subscription programs features Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2, with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3.
● June 21-24: For the season finale, a roster of distinguished vocalists join Muti and the CSO and Chorus for Stabat mater, one of Rossini’s last major works, preceded by two other choral works, Mozart’s dramatic Kyrie in D Minor and Cherubini’s rarely heard Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn.
In addition, Muti leads two one-night-only special concerts:
● Symphony Ball, Sept. 22: The annual gala fund-raising concert, with a pre-concert reception and post-performance dinner and dancing, features Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, along with music by Rossini and Tchaikovsky.
● Concert for Chicago, Nov. 15: The CSO’s annual, free concert for the community, with a program that includes Schubert’s Eighth Symphony (Unfinished) and Brahms’ Second Symphony. (Location to be announced at a later date.)