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Muti to open Chicago Symphony season with concerts spotlighting Mutter and a premiere

Submitted by on Sep 15, 2017 – 4:21 pm

CSO music director Riccardo Muti will lead three programs in his first residency of the season. (Todd Rosenberg)

This Just In: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.

Music Director Riccardo Muti returns to Chicago in September for his first Chicago Symphony Orchestra residency of the 2017/18 season, which includes three concert programs (September 22-October 1).

Muti and the CSO launch the 2017/18 season with the annual gala benefit, Symphony Ball, on Friday, September 22, at 7:00 p.m., featuring Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (Turkish), as well as Rossini’s Overture to William Tell and Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Sleeping Beauty. Mutter also joins Muti and the CSO for subscription concerts on Saturday, September 23, at 8:00 p.m. and Tuesday, September 26, at 7:30 p.m., in a program featuring Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 and Polish composer Krzystof Penderecki’s The Awakening of Jacob.

Muti’s fall 2017 residency concludes with subscription concerts on Thursday, September 28, at 8:00 p.m., Friday, September 29 at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 1, at 3:00 p.m. The program includes the world premiere of CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Elizabeth Ogonek’s All These Lighted Things, as well as Rossini’s Overture to William Tell and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 (Romantic).

The September 22 Symphony Ball program highlights a long-standing and distinguished artistic partnership between Muti and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, whose most recent appearance together with the CSO at Symphony Center was in 2012. Mutter, who marks the 40th anniversary of her debut as a celebrated orchestral soloist in 2017, also appeared with Muti and the Berlin Philharmonic in critically acclaimed performances in May 2017. Mutter performs Mozart’s melody-rich Violin Concerto No. 5 (Turkish), which derives its nickname from a lively rondo finale that evokes the sound of Middle Eastern music popular at the time it was composed in 1775. Two of classical music’s most iconic works, Rossini’s William Tell overture and Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Sleeping Beauty, complete the Symphony Ball program.

For Muti and the CSO’s first subscription concerts of the season on September 23 and 26, he and Mutter appear together with the Orchestra for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, considered one of the most virtuosic violin concertos in the repertoire and a work admired for its rich lyricism and melodies inspired, in part, by Russian folk music. This program opens with Penderecki’s The Awakening of Jacob, a landscape of sonic exploration written in 1974. The title of the piece comes from an episode in the Bible where Jacob dreams of angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven. Penderecki, who was drawn to this unusual and beautiful scene, included an epigram on this score from the book of Genesis, which reads “Jacob woke from his sleep and said: Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Completing the program is Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. The work demonstrates Schumann’s desire to reconsider the traditional symphonic form with a spirited scherzo movement switching places with the traditional slow, or adagio, movement before reaching the fourth, and final, movement.These performances represent a return to Schumann’s symphonies for Muti and the CSO following performances of the composer’s Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish ) in 2013 and the 2014/15 season, and the Symphony No. 4 in March 2017. Schumann’s Second Symphony will also be performed on the upcoming October 2017 tour by Muti and the CSO. More information at cso.org/tour.

A post-concert CD signing with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter is open to all CSO patrons and takes place on September 23 in Grainger Ballroom.

Muti’s second CSO subscription program of the residency takes places September 28, 29 and October 1 and opens with Rossini’s Overture to his landmark opera William Tell. Inspired by the legend of a Swiss patriot, Rossini’s opera is probably best known for its overture, which Muti has described as a “fanfare for freedom” and contains the familiar theme that was made famous in the popular 1950’s TV series “The Lone Ranger.” The program concludes with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 (Romantic). Performed in the 1886 version in these concerts, and known for one of Bruckner’s most glorious celebrations of brass sonorities in the thrilling scherzo movement, the work unfolds slowly to reveal a rich array of beautiful themes that find their way into multiple movements of the monumental symphony.

Muti’s return to the compositions of Anton Bruckner with the CSO follows critically acclaimed performances of the composer’s Symphony No. 7, which opened the CSO’s 2016/17 season in September 2017 and the recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, which was released on the CSO Resound Label in June 2017. In his review of the Bruckner 9 recording, John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune noted “He [Muti] distills an impressive degree of power, grandeur and lyrical expansion from the score, along with a thoughtful regard for beauty of texture and resilience of contour.” Since becoming music director, Muti has also led the CSO in performances of Bruckner’s first, second and sixth symphonies, as well as the composer’s choral masterwork, Te Deum, with the CSO and Chorus. Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony will also be performed on the upcoming October 2017 tour by Muti and the CSO. More information at cso.org/tour.

CSO resident composer Elizabeth OgonekThis program also includes the world premiere of All These Lighted Things by CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Elizabeth Ogonek. Commissioned by the Louise Durham Mead Fund, Ogonek’s work is subtitled three little dances for orchestra, with these movements marked in her richly orchestrated score as “exuberant, playful, bright;” “gently drifting, hazy;” and “buoyant.” For her creative process as a composer, Ogonek describes the fact that she builds from “a small, musical idea,” going on to say that “often my music starts with a poetic scene.” Ogonek also notes, “I’m really interested in color and dynamic and dramatic juxtapositions in music, and that figures in quite prominently to my creative process as a composer.” For her new work, Ogonek notes that the title, All These Lighted Things, comes from a line in a Thomas Merton poem. Ogonek adds “at the heart of the piece is celebration and reverence for the things that bring joy. It comes on the heels of several very dark works, and thus, is a kind of first morning light.”

Elizabeth Ogonek was appointed a CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence alongside her fellow Composer-in-Residence Samuel Adams in 2015 by Riccardo Muti. The world premiere of All These Lighted Things represents her first work commissioned for and performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The work is also part of the CSO’s upcoming tour performances on October 11 (Kansas City, MO) and October 13 (Berkeley, CA). Ogonek has also had two works performed on the CSO’s MusicNOW concert series that she co-curates with Adams. Those works included the May 2017 world premiere of a MusicNOW commission for solo violin and chamber ensemble entitled In Silence and the March 2015 performance of Falling Up, her work scored for a small ensemble of winds and strings and inspired by the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud and Shel Silverstein.

In addition to his concert programs, Muti participates in several special activities during his first CSO residency of the 2017/18 season. These include a return visit to the Illinois Youth Center—Warrenville (IYCW) on Sunday, September 24, for an interactive recital with CSO musicians (CSO Principal Bass Alexander Hanna and CSO Bass Trombone Charlie Vernon) and young singers from Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center (Diana Newman, soprano; Lauren Decker, contralto; and Mario Rojas, tenor). This afternoon of music for the young women and men at IYCW is part of Muti’s ongoing commitment to sharing classical music with incarcerated youth and marks Muti’s ninth visit to a Chicago-area youth correctional facility since becoming music director in 2010. It also marks his fifth visit to the IYCW, which initially served young women only until 2016, when the facility began to serve young men and women.

Muti also opens the 2017/18 season of Civic Orchestra of Chicago programs with a return to the podium to lead the Civic Orchestra in an open rehearsal at Symphony Center on Monday, September 25, at 7:00 p.m. Muti rehearses the members of the Civic Orchestra in the first movement of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 (Romantic) and Rossini’s Overture to William Tell. While the rehearsal is free and open to the public, tickets are required.

The September 24 interactive recital for incarcerated youth and the September 25 Civic Orchestra Open Rehearsal are programs of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO.

Muti also participates in a post-concert Q&A hosted by the CSO’s Latino Alliance on Tuesday, September 26. Latino Alliance co-chairs Loida Rosario and Ramiro Atristain welcome patrons to this conversation with Riccardo Muti moderated by CSOA President Jeff Alexander. The event takes place in Grainger Ballroom and is open to CSO ticketholders on a first-come, first served basis. Space is limited. For more information about the CSO’s Latino Alliance and its series of 2017/18 networking nights, click here.

At the conclusion of his final CSO residency of the 2016/17 season in June, Muti traveled to Vienna to be honored with the distinguished Golden Johann Strauss Award by the Johann Strauss Society of Vienna. The award, presented to Muti on June 27, 2017, recognizes an artist’s services to the music of the legendary waltz composer and anticipates the January 1, 2018, appearance by Muti with the Vienna Philharmonic for the orchestra’s famous New Year’s Day concert, his fifth time leading this special concert.

Following his receipt of the Golden Johann Strauss Award, Muti returned to his home in Ravenna, Italy, to prepare his Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini (Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra), which he founded in 2004, in two programs for the La vie dell’Amicizia (The paths of friendship), a project of the Ravenna Festival since 1997. The two programs garnered international media attention for a unique cultural exchange between Italian and Iranian musicians. On July 6 in Tehran, Muti led musicians from the Cherubini Youth Orchestra, musicians from leading Italian orchestras and the chorus of Piacenza’s Municipal Theater along with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall. This was followed by a concert on July 8 in Ravenna at the 4,000-seat Palazzo Mauro De André, which also featured guest soloists Piero Pretti (tenor), Luca Salsi (baritone) and Riccardo Zanellato (bass). The concerts served as symbols of friendship and delivered a message of peace while promoting dialogue between Middle Eastern and Western cultures through the shared language of music.

In August 2017, Muti returned to the Salzburg Festival in Austria, where he has enjoyed a lasting and celebrated artistic partnership with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra since his 1971 debut at the prestigious music festival. At the invitation of the Festival’s new artistic director Markus Hinterhäuser, Muti led a much-anticipated, critically acclaimed production of Verdi’s Aida with the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Chorus directed by Iranian artist, film director and photographer Shirin Neshat and featuring soprano Anna Netrebko in her debut in the title role. The seven performances of Aida garnered exceptional media attention and attracted capacity audiences. Chicago’s WFMT 98.7FM broadcast a recorded version of the August 12 performance, which was heard nationally over the WFMT Radio Network. At the Salzburg Festival, Muti also led the Vienna Philharmonic in a program of works by Tchaikovsky and Brahms, with pianist Yefim Bronfman joining Muti and the Orchestra for the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2.

Just prior to his return to Chicago for the first CSO residency of the 2017/18 season, Muti leads rehearsals and performances of Verdi’s Aida with talented young conductors, singers and répétiteurs at his Italian Opera Academy in Ravenna, Italy from September 1 through 14, 2017.


Tickets for all CSOA-presented concerts can be purchased by phone at 800-223-7114 or 312-294-3000; online at cso.org, or at the Symphony center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.

Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.

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