Symphony Center Presents, Chicago’s premier presenter of international artists and ensembles, offers a range of programs highlighting the artistry of classical music’s most acclaimed musicians. It presents four series, Piano, Chamber Music, Orchestra and Jazz, as well as special concerts. Programming details for the 2020-21 SCP Jazz series will be announced in April.

SCP PIANO

The Symphony Center Presents Piano series, which consists of 10 recitals on Sunday afternoons, celebrates keyboard virtuosity of the highest caliber.

Richard Goode, Oct. 4: In his first SCP recital since 2016, the American icon returns with a program including Mozart’s Sonata in F Major and Rondo in A Minor, Brahms’ Seven Fantasies, a selection of Chopin’s Mazurkas, and Debussy’s Images, L’isle joyeuse and selected Etudes.

Anna Vinnitskaya, Nov. 1: In her SCP debut, the Russian pianist explores Ravel’s relationship with the waltz in a program featuring his La valse as well as the Valses nobles et sentimentales. Other works on the program include Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons, Schumann’s Sonata No. 1 and Arabesque, and Chopin’s Fantasy-Impromptu in C-sharp Minor.

Leif Ove Andsnes, Jan. 24: One of the most acclaimed pianists of his generation, the Norwegian native returns with a program of Janáček, Bartók and Schumann’s Carnaval.

Paul Lewis, Feb. 21: In his first SCP recital since 2017, the English pianist will tackle Mussorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition, as well as sonatas by Mozart and Haydn, selections from Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words and Scriabin’s Five Preludes.

Emanuel Ax, March 14:  The longtime SCP favorite will perform Brahms’ Six Piano Pieces, Op. 18, and Chopin’s Andante spianato et Grande polonaise brillante and the Polonaise-Fantasy in A-flat Major. Ax also will perform Andrew Norman’s Suspend, which was written for him in 2014 as a concerto and has been reconceived for solo piano.

Seong-Jin Cho, March 28: The first South Korean pianist to win the International Chopin Competition in 2015, he makes his SCP Piano debut with a program featuring Schumann’s Humoreske, Szymanowski’s Masques and four Chopin Scherzos.

Evgeny Kissin, April 18: The superstar Russian-born pianist offers a wide-ranging program of Chopin Impromptus, Berg’s Sonata No. 1, two pieces by Soviet composer Tikhon Khrennikov and Three Preludes by Gershwin.

Maurizio Pollini, May 9: One of the great keyboard legends, with a career spanning 60 years, he will perform Schoenberg’s Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11, and Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19, as well as Beethoven’s Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106 (Hammerklavier).

Marc-André Hamelin, May 23: The Canadian-born virtuoso returns for an intriguing bill of C.P.E. Bach’s Rondo in C Minor, Schubert’s last Sonata in A Major, Schumann’s Waldszenen and Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit.

David Fray, June 6: The French pianist, who has performed with the CSO in concertos by Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, has programmed an all-Schubert recital, with details to be announced later.

SCP CHAMBER MUSIC

The Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music series brings today’s top artists and chamber ensembles to Orchestra Hall each season.

Joshua Bell, Oct. 18: With a career spanning more than 30 years, the celebrated violinist returns with pianist Alessio Bax for a program to be announced later.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lisa Batiashvili and Gautier Capuçon, Dec. 13: Friends for many years and all concert soloists in their own right, the pianist, violinist and cellist joined forces recently to tour as a trio. They will offer Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 1, Ravel’s Piano Trio and Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 2.

Mitsuko Uchida, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, March 21: Critically acclaimed for her interpretations of Mozart, pianist Mitsuko Uchida is soloist and leads the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in two piano concertos by the composer, Nos. 18 and 21. The internationally acclaimed Mahler Chamber Orchestra, in its SCP debut, also performs Janáček’s sextet Mládi (Youth).

The Jerusalem Quartet, April 25: Violin-violist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth join the quartet for Dvořák’s String Sextet, Brahms’ String Sextet No. 1 and the Adagio from Bruckner’s String Quintet.

SCP ORCHESTRAS

The series honors the long-standing tradition of welcoming the world’s finest orchestras to Orchestra Hall.

CANCELED: Berlin Philharmonic, Nov. 14: In his first U.S. tour as its chief conductor, Kirill Petrenko leads the Berlin Philharmonic in a program of American eclecticism and Strauss tone poems. Charles Ives’ Central Park in the Dark and Andrew Norman’s Unstuck were composed a century apart (1906 and 2008, respectively) but both share an imaginative response to the resources of the orchestra. The program also features Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks and Ein Heldenleben by Richard Strauss, who regularly conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in his own works.

The Mariinsky Orchestra, Feb. 14: Based in St. Petersburg, Russia, the ensemble returns with longtime director Valery Gergiev in three selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Joining them in his SCP debut will be pianist Alexandre Kantorow, winner of the first prize, gold medal and Grand Prix at the 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019.

Chamber Orchestra of Europe, March 13: The music director of the Metropolitan Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra and Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Yannick Nézet-Séguin returns with the London-based ensemble in Brahms’ Violin Concerto with Lisa Batiashvili as soloist and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.

SPECIAL CONCERTS

Along with classical music series, Symphony Center Presents offers special concerts in a range of genres as well as holiday programs.

CANCELED: The China NCPA Orchestra, Oct. 25: Conducted by Lü Jia, the ensemble will perform a varied program of Chinese music and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. In his SCP debut, Wu Wei will be the soloist in a work by Unsuk Chin for the traditional Chinese instrument the sheng. The program also includes Itineraire d’une illusion by Qigang Chen.

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Jan. 26: Branford Marsalis is the featured soloist in Debussy’s Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra and Ibert’s Concertino da Camera for Saxophone. The concert also features the ensemble in Spanish-themed works by Rossini, Rodrigo and Turina, as well as the world premiere of Courtney Bryan’s Carmen, Jazz Suite on themes by Bizet, a work commissioned by the Orpheus.

Chinese New Year Celebration, Feb. 13: The annual concert has become a tradition at Symphony Center. Program and performers will be announced at a later date.

Kodo, Feb. 28: The legendary ensemble of taiko drummers returns with Legacy, a physically and musically stunning show that reworks the group’s treasure trove of signature pieces.

Lang Lang, March 7: The superstar pianist will survey J.S. Bach’s astonishing compendium of musical styles and contrapuntal genius, the Goldberg Variations.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, March 11-12: As part of a residency that will include educational activities and a Friday night SCP Jazz series concert, Wynton Marsalis leads and performs with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in an SCP special concert.

Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion, April 2: The tabla legend and his ensemble perform on a cornucopia of drums and other instruments in a program of music from India.

George Hinchliffe’s Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, April 6: From oldies to punk, classical to trivial, this ensemble presents music across a galaxy of genres.

Itzhak Perlman, May 2: To celebrate the 25th anniversary of In the Fiddler’s House, the star violinist presents a concert exploring traditional klezmer music. His collaborators include members of the Brave Old World and Klezmer Conservatory Band, with music director Hankus Netsky on saxophone and piano, Andy Statman on clarinet and mandolin, and other special guests.

HOLIDAY PROGRAMS

Chanticleer, Dec. 7-8: Called the “world’s reigning male chorus,” the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble makes its annual visit to Chicago, featuring familiar and new seasonal pieces in a cappella arrangements, at the Fourth Presbyterian Church.

CSO Brass, Dec. 16: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass offers a program of brass ensemble favorites and special arrangements. This annual winter concert is presented with the Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference.

Vienna Boys Choir, Dec. 21: Returning for its annual Symphony Center appearance, the historic choir performs a holiday program of traditional and contemporary vocal selections.

Merry, Merry Chicago!, Dec. 18-20 and 22-23: Ring in the holidays with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Merry, Merry Chicago! The festive program features members of the CSO and Chicago Symphony Chorus, as well as a very special guest from the North Pole.

TOP: Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra, led by longtime director Valery Gergiev, returns to Orchestra Hall next season. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography