For his ninth season as music director, Riccardo Muti will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 10 weeks of subscription concerts over seven residencies in September, October and November, and in 2019, February, March, May and June. In addition, Maestro Muti will lead the CSO on tours of Asia in January 2019, marking their second trip to Asia together and the orchestra’s ninth Asia tour.

In addition, he conducts the annual Symphony Ball gala program and a free community concert  and a return appearance at Wheaton College, as part of the CSO’s third annual concert series at that venue’s Edman Memorial Chapel.

His programs, in chronological order:

Sept. 20, Community Concert: The CSO’s annual free concert returns to Millennium Park with a program of audience favorites: The Overture to Rossini’s William Tell, The Four Seasons from Verdi’s The Sicilian Vespers and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. As part of the centennial celebration of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, its musicians also will appear with the CSO.

Sept. 21-22 and 25: For his first residency of the season, Muti leads Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar), for bass, men’s chorus and orchestra. The work incorporates poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (who died in 2017), written in response to the World War II massacre of the Jewish population of Kiev. The program includes the CSO’s first performances of Prokofiev’s rarely heard Sinfonietta.

Sept. 27-29:  In his second week of concerts, Muti leads the CSO in a program of masterworks, the Overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni and the composer’s Symphony No. 40, followed by Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral showpiece Sheherazade.

Oct. 4-5: Muti leads Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler Symphony, with its message of artistic freedom, and the Overture to Beethoven’s Egmont, which depicts a character who stands against oppression. David Fray joins the CSO as soloist in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto.

Oct. 6, Symphony Ball: The annual fund-raising gala features a Viennese theme, with waltzes from the Strauss family, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 with pianist David Fray and the Intermezzo from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.

Nov. 8-10: First performing and recording Verdi’s Requiem in 2009, and performing it again in 2013, to mark the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth, Muti along with the CSO and Chicago Symphony Chorus return to this work as part of the season-long focus on works of peace and reflection. They are joined by all-star quartet of soloists: soprano Vittoria Yeo in her CSO debut, tenor Piotr Beczala in his subscription concert debut and mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy in return appearances.

Feb. 21-23: Muti pairs Mozart’s Requiem, with the CSO and Chorus, with American composer William Schuman’s Ninth Symphony (Le fosse Ardeatine), which commemorates the World War II massacre of Italians, Christians and Jews in 1944.

March 14-16: Muti leads a program that features CSO piccolo Jennifer Gunn in concertos by Vivaldi and contemporary American composer Ken Benshoof. Bookending the program are overtures to Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims and Wagner’s Tannhäuser, with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 completing the program.

May 2-4 and 7: Muti began his tenure as CSO music director in 2010 with a performance in Millennium Park that featured Respighi’s Pines of Rome. In May, he once again leads the CSO in this colorful portrait of the Italian city, pairing it with another musical postcard, Bizet’s Roma, in its CSO premiere. Also on the program are the Overture to Cherubini’s to Anacréon, an opera beloved by Berlioz, whose The Death of Cleopatra will be performed with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

May 9-11: In the second week of his May residency, Muti and the CSO explore works by Mozart and Stravinsky. Mozart’s joyous Overture to The Marriage of Figaro contrasts with the darker shadows of his Piano Concerto No. 20, with Mitsuko Uchida as soloist. Suites from two contrasting Stravinsky ballets, Apollon musagète and The Firebird, close the program.

June 13-15: Muti’s concluding residency of the 2018-19 season begins with works by Americans past and present, along with Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3. The program opens with Gershwin’s An American in Paris and features the world premiere of a concerto for CSO Bass Trombone Charles Vernon by Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson, famed for his brass music.

June 21, 23 and 25, Aida: In past seasons Muti has brought his mastery of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi to Chicago with universally lauded concert performances of Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff. Muti caps the 2018/19 season with the CSO’s first subscription concert performances of the grandest of Verdi’s operas, Aida, featuring the assembled forces of the CSO and Chorus, with soprano Krassimira Stoyanova in the title role.

The post of CSO music director is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation.


Riccardo Muti leads the CSO on two tours: the first, from Jan. 22 to Feb. 3, 2019, in Asia, marking their second trip to this continent together and the orchestra’s ninth Asia tour. They will perform two concerts in Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing, five concerts in Tokyo, and a concert in Osaka. Tour programs include works by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and in Japan, Verdi’s Requiem.

In Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing, Muti and the CSO perform Brahms’ First and Second symphonies, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade. In Tokyo, Muti and the CSO perform Brahms’ First and Second Symphonies, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade. In addition, they perform Verdi’s Requiem with the Tokyo Opera Singers chorus and mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona, tenor Francesco Meli and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy.

At the end of February, Muti and the CSO embark on a domestic tour to Florida, with return appearances at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach on Feb. 26, the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami on Feb. 27 and Frances Pew Hayes Hall in Naples on Feb. 28 and March 2. Repertoire on the Florida tour consists of Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh symphonies, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade.

TOP: Riccardo leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Verdi’s Requiem. |  ©Todd Rosenberg Photography