Symphony Center Presents, Chicago’s leading presenter of international artists, offers four series — Piano, Chamber Music, Orchestras and Jazz — as well as Special Concerts. The series highlight the exceptional artistry of the world’s most brilliant musicians.

Programming for the SCP Jazz series will be announced in April. Also forthcoming will be details of next season’s MusicNOW and CSO at the Movies series.


Over 10 Sunday afternoon concerts each season, legendary keyboard masters and upcoming virtuosos perform repertoire from every era, Baroque to contemporary. Highlights of the 2018-19 series include the debuts of Beatrice Rana and Behzod Abduraimov, and return appearances of Evgeny Kissin, Maurizio Pollini, Denis Matsuev, Murray Perahia, Cédric Tiberghien, Leif Ove Andsnes and the piano duo team of Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich, Oct. 28: The exceptional duo pianists bring a characteristically varied program of 20th-century works, including Bartók’s whimsical Mikrokosmos, Harrison Birtwistle’s Keyboard Engine and Messiaen’s transfigured Visions de l’Amen.

Denis Matsuev, Nov. 11: Hailed as “ferocious” and “barnstorming” by the Chicago press, the Russian pianist returns to the SCP Piano series for a diverse program of Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Rachmaninov’s virtuoso Corelli Variations, Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 and Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7.

Cédric Tiberghien, Dec. 2: When the French pianist made his Chicago debut in 2015, the Chicago Tribune saluted his “power, elegance and controlled intensity.” He returns with a fascinating, combustible program that frames Debussy’s Études with works by Bridge, Szymanowski, Hindemith and Scriabin.

Leif Ove Andsnes, Jan. 27, 2019: The celebrated Norwegian pianist returns with a program that contrasts the nature-inspired music of Schumann’s Blumenstück and Janáček’s On an Overgrown Path with the urban revelry of Bartók’s Three Burlesques and Schumann’s Carnaval. Also on the program is Chopin’s Ballade No. 3.

Beatrice Rana, Feb. 24: The Italian pianist makes her Chicago debut with a program of Chopin Études, Ravel’s Miroirs and a transcription of Stravinsky’s Firebird. The New York Times praised her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as “playing of preternatural sensitivity, sophistication and control.”

Behzod Abduraimov, March 3: Described by the Times of London as the “master of all he touches,” the Uzbek-born pianist makes his Symphony Center debut with this program of love, longing and death. He contrasts Liszt’s transcription of the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde with Prokofiev’s own version of his ballet Romeo and Juliet. Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor rounds out the program.

Maurizio Pollini, March 31: Each performance of legendary Italian pianist is cause for celebration. More than a half-century into his career, this paragon of musical excellence continues to thrill audiences around the world. Program to be announced.

Murray Perahia, April 28: In the more than 40 years he has been performing on the concert stage, the American-born pianist has become one of the most sought-after and cherished artists of our time. Program to be announced.

Evgeny Kissin, May 12: The Russian superstar, a performer of magisterial virtuosity and probing intelligence, makes his highly anticipated return to the SCP Piano series. “Inevitably a torrent of applause ensued, swelling to thunderous rhythmic clapping by the time the pianist had served up three encores,” wrote the Chicago Tribune of his last Symphony Center recital. Program to be announced.

Rudolf Buchbinder, June 9: Renowned across Europe for his interpretations of the Viennese masters, the Austrian pianist returns to the series with a program of three works representative of that tradition, Haydn’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Major (Hob. XVI:52), Beethoven’s Waldstein Piano Sonata and Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960. (The appearance of Rudolf Buchbinder is generously sponsored by JS Charitable Trust.)


The Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music series brings today’s top artists and chamber ensembles to Orchestra Hall for performances in four programs each season. Highlights of the 2018-19 season include the Chicago debut of the all-star duo of violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Evgeny Kissin, and the return of violinist Pinchas Zukerman with cellist Amanda Forsyth  and the Jerusalem Quartet.

Pinchas Zukerman, Jerusalem Quartet, Oct. 7: The violinist-violist-conductor returns to Symphony Center for a program of three works for string sextet by Richard Strauss, Schoenberg and Tchaikovsky. He is joined by the acclaimed Jerusalem Quartet and Canadian cellist Amanda Forsyth in their Symphony Center debuts.

Anne-Sophie Mutter, Lambert Orkis, March 17: The violinist and longtime duo partner and pianist return with cellist Daniel Müller-Schott for a program featuring piano trios by Beethoven and Sebastian Currier, and violin sonatas by Ravel and Poulenc.

Midori & Jean-Yves Thibaudet, April 14: The violinist and pianist join forces for the first time in a not-to-be-missed collaboration with works by Schumann, Fauré, Debussy and Enescu.

Itzhak Perlman & Evgeny Kissin, May 1: Touring as a duo for the first time, the legendary violinist and pianist come together in a rare concert event.


The Symphony Center Presents (SCP) Orchestras series honors a long-standing tradition of welcoming the world’s finest orchestras to Orchestra Hall. In 2018/19, the three-concert series features the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony.

Conductor Semyon Bychkov, long a CSO favorite for performances of intensity and drama, currently serves as Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic. He brings the Orchestra back to Symphony Center for the first time since 2003 for an all-Czech program featuring music by Luboš Fišer, as well as Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony and Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein as soloist. (November 4)

Hear the legendary Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam in a much-anticipated return to Symphony Center. The orchestra, long considered one of the world’s finest ensembles, brings a program of works core to its repertoire, Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 and Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, conducted by its new music director, Daniele Gatti. (February 12, 2019)

Michael Tilson Thomas, who also leads the CSO in subscription concerts in the 2018/19 season, brings the celebrated San Francisco Symphony to Symphony Center for a program of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Christian Tetzlaff as soloist and Beethoven’s Third Symphony. The concert represents an extraordinary opportunity to see Tilson Thomas conduct the ensemble he has nurtured for nearly 25 years as they undertake their final domestic tour together. (March 26, 2019)


During the 2018-19 season, the CSO and Symphony Center Presents offer an array of non-subscription special concerts that showcase internationally acclaimed soloists and ensembles in a range of genres — classical, world, folk and jazz — as well as holiday programs.

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, Oct. 24: America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization, the band is known for its devoted musicianship and polished performances.

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Nov. 5: Founder Daniel Barenboim brings his groundbreaking ensemble of young Arab and Israeli musicians to Symphony Center for a program of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, as well as Strauss’ Don Quixote.

Soweto Gospel Choir, Nov. 16: The internationally acclaimed group returns to Symphony Center for the first time since 2012 with a program that blends African gospel, Negro spirituals, reggae and popular music.

CSO Brass, Dec. 19: In their annual winter concert, the musicians present an engaging program of brass ensemble favorites and special arrangements.

The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, Feb. 9: Making its Symphony Center debut under music director Enrique Pérez Mesa, the orchestra brings a diverse program of works by Cuban composers Ernesto Lecuona and Arnadeo Roldán, as well as Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Three-time Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding joins the orchestra to perform some of her best-known songs.

Kodo, Feb. 28: The Japanese taiko-drumming troupe returns for a dramatic performance full of pulsing rhythms, athletic virtuosity and stirring passion. The group’s newest production, Evolution, showcases the perpetual creative evolution of Kodo under the artistic direction of Tamasaburō Bandō.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, March 20: A national institution in the United Kingdom, the current ensemble, in its Symphony Center debut, has been playing together for more than 20 years. The group’s signature repertoire is delightfully varied, spanning genres from classical to jazz to pop.

Zakir Hussain, April 19: The greatest living master of the tabla and one of the architects of modern world music returns with his international ensemble of the world’s finest percussionists.


The Vienna Boys Choir, Nov. 24: Returning for its annual Symphony Center appearance, the choral ensemble performs a joyful program of traditional and contemporary vocal selections titled “Christmas in Vienna.”

Chanticleer, Dec. 4-5: Called the “world’s reigning male chorus” by the New Yorker, the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble makes its annual visit to Chicago with a program of familiar and new seasonal pieces.

Merry, Merry Chicago!, Dec. 14-16, 21-23: The annual holiday revue features Members of the CSO and Storm Large, one of the lead vocalists of Pink Martini. The program wouldn’t be complete without a visit from a very special guest from the North Pole.

TOP: To cap his 25 years as music director, Michael Tilson Thomas is leading the San Francisco Symphony on a national tour. | Photo: Bill Swerbenski/San Francisco Symphony