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Muti extends CSO directorship for two years, and orchestra announces plans for 2018-19

Submitted by on Jan 30, 2018 – 10:06 am

Report: Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 season includes world premieres, tributes to Armistice centennial and Verdi’s ‘Aida.’ 
By Nancy Malitz and Lawrence B. Johnson

Music director Riccardo Muti has extended his tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through August 2022, two years beyond his current contract, the orchestra announced Jan. 30. Muti, 75, who began his directorship in 2010, will maintain his present level of commitment to the CSO — 10 weeks of subscription concerts and community engagement plus three to four weeks of touring.

The announcement of Muti’s extension coincided with release of the Chicago Symphony’s 2018-19 season, which spotlights centennial remembrances of the World War I armistice and a season-capping concert version of Verdi’s “Aida,” starring soprano Krassimira Stoyanova and conducted by Muti.

Explaining his decision to continue his directorship through 12 full seasons, Muti cited his “deep respect and affection for the great musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.” He added: “Our relationship is growing stronger each year and this is the reason why I have decided to continue for two more seasons.  I look forward to making more wonderful music with my CSO and sharing it with audiences in the great city of Chicago and around the world.”

Muti will open the new season, his ninth as CSO music director, with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (“Babi Yar”), a setting of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko memorializing the World War II massacre of the Jewish population of Kiev.

In his 10 weeks with the Chicago Symphony at Orchestra Hall, Muti also will conduct Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” Hindemith’s “Mathis der Maler” symphony, the Mozart Requiem and the Verdi Requiem and, on a program with Gershwin’s “An American in Paris, the world premiere of James M. Stephenson’s Concerto for Bass Trombone written for the CSO’s Charles Vernon.

Muti will lead the orchestra back to Asia on an extensive tour of Japan and China in January 2019, and on a swing through Florida in February 2019.

Emblematic of the CSO’s Armistice commemoration is the world premiere of French composer Bruno Mantovani’s “Threnos,” to be conducted by Marin Alsop. This memorial opus – the term “threnos” was used in ancient Greece to designate a funeral lamentation – was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library.

Among other returning conductors are former CSO music director Daniel Barenboim (Smetana’s “Má vlast), Bernard Haitink (Bruckner Sixth Symphony), Michael Tilson Thomas (Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with Nicola Benedetti in her debut), Osmo Vänskä (Mendelssohn “Scotch” Symphony and Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 with Vadim Gluzman) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra” and Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle” with mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung and bass John Relyea).

The Joffrey Ballet makes its CSO debut, dancing to two works of Stravinsky, the “Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto and the “Pucinella” Suite. That program will be conducted by Matthias Pintscher.

Amid the CSO’s subscription concert season, four visiting orchestras will appear under the banner of Symphony Center Presents.

The Czech Philharmonic under Semyon Bychkov spotlights Dvořák – the “New World” Symphony and the Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein – on Nov. 4. The next night, Nov. 5, Barenboim leads the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Strauss’ “Don Quixote” with cellist Kian Soltani.

Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Daniele Gatti plays Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben” on Feb. 12, 2019. Michael Tilson Thomas brings the San Francisco Symphony with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”) and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with soloist Christian Tetzlaff on March 26, 2019.

Chicago Symphony’s complete season schedule for 2018-19 begins Sept. 21, when the young Russian bass Alexey Tikhomirov and the men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus will add their voices to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, which was composed in remembrance of the tragic massacre of tens of thousands at Babi Yar. Here is a video excerpt of Tikhomirov in one of his signature roles:


Friday, September 21, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 22, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor

Alexey Tikhomirov, bass
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

PROKOFIEV                  Sinfonietta, Op. 5
SHOSTAKOVICH         Symphony No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 113 (Babi Yar)


Thursday, September 27, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, September 28, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 29, 2018, 8:00 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor

MOZART                        Overture to “Don Giovanni,” K. 527
MOZART                        Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV    “Scheherazade,” Op. 35



Thursday, October 4, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, October 5, 2018, 1:30 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
David Fray, piano

BEETHOVEN                 Overture to “Egmont,” Op. 84
BEETHOVEN                 Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
BRAHMS                        Hungarian Dances
HINDEMITH                   “Mathis der Maler”Symphony


Sunday, October 6, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – Symphony Ball

Riccardo Muti, conductor
David Fray, piano

BRAHMS                            Hungarian Dances
MOZART                            Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
PUCCINI                            Intermezzo to Act 3 from “Manon Lescaut”
JOSEF STRAUSS             “Music of the Spheres” Waltz, Op. 235
JOHANN STRAUSS JR.   “Roses from the South” Waltz, Op. 388


Thursday, October 11, 2018 8:00 p.m.
Friday, October 12, 2018, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 13, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 14, 2018, 3:00 p.m.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conductor
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano

Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director
Anima – Young Singers of Greater Chicago

MAHLER                         Symphony No. 3 in D Minor


Thursday, October 18, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, October 19, 2018, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 20, 2018 8:00 p.m.

Marin Alsop, conductor
Daniil Trifonov, piano

MANTOVANI                  “Threnos” [World Premiere, CSO Commission]
PROKOFIEV                  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
BRIDGE                         Lament
COPLAND                     Symphony No. 3


Thursday, October 25, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 27, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Bernard Haitink, conductor
Paul Lewis, piano

BEETHOVEN                 Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
BRUCKNER                   Symphony No. 6 in A Major (1881)



Thursday, November 1, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, November 2, 2018, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 3, 2018, 8:00 p.m.

Daniel Barenboim, conductor

SMETANA                   “Má vlast”


Thursday, November 8, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, November 9, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 10, 2018, 8:00 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
Vittoria Yeo, soprano
Daniela Barcellona, mezzo-soprano
Piotr Beczala, tenor
Dmitry Belosselskiy, bass

Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

VERDI        Requiem


Thursday, November 15, 2018, 8:00 p.m.

Friday, November 16, 2018, 7:30 p.m., Edman Chapel—Wheaton
Saturday, November 17, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 18, 2018, 3:00 p.m.

Thomas Søndergård, conductor
Alexander Gavrylyuk, piano

SIBELIUS                   Nocturne and Ballade from “King Christian II Suite,” Op. 27
TCHAIKOVSKY         Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
RACHMANINOV        Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 13


Thursday, November 29, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, November 30, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 1, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Robert Chen, concertmaster and leader
Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, flute

MOZART                        “Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” K. 525
MOZART                        Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major K. 216 (“Strassburg”)
MOZART                        Flute Concerto No. 2 in D Major, K. 314
MOZART                        Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183



Thursday, December 6, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, December 7, 2018, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 8, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Edward Gardner, conductor
Erin Wall, soprano

WAGNER                       Overture to “Rienzi”
R. STRAUSS                  “Four Last Songs”
NIELSEN                        Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 (“The Inextinguishable”)

Thursday, December 13, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, December 14, 2018, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 15, 2018, 8:00 p.m.

Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Nicola Benedetti, violin

STRAVINSKY                Concerto in D Major for String Orchestra
PROKOFIEV                  Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
TCHAIKOVSKY             Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (“Pathétique”)


Thursday, December 20, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, December 21, 2018, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 22, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 23, 2018, 3:00 p.m.

Matthew Halls, conductor
Amanda Forsythe, soprano
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Joshua Hopkins, baritone

Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

HANDEL               “Messiah”



Thursday, January 10, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, January 11, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 12, 2019, 8:0 p.m.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Bramwell Tovey, conductor
Thomas Hampson, baritone

IVES                            Variations on “America” (orch. Schuman)
IVES & LOWRY,          ” At The River” from “Five Songs” (arr. Adams)
COPLAND                    Selections from “Old American Songs”
STILL                           “In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy”
DAMROSCH & KIPLING      “Danny Deever”
DAUGHERTY                “Letter to Mrs. Bixby” from “Letters from Lincoln”
CORIGLIANO                “One Sweet Morning”
ELGAR                          Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (“Enigma”)



Thursday, February 14, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 16, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 17, 2019, 3:00 p.m.

Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor
Simon Trpčeski, piano

RACHMANINOV         Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, O”p. 30
TCHAIKOVSKY          Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 (Winter Dreams”)


Thursday, February 21, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, February 22, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 23, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
Benedetta Torre, soprano
Sara Mingardo, contralto
Saimir Pirgu, tenor
Mika Kares, bass

Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director

SCHUMAN                     Symphony No. 9 (“Le fosse Ardeatine”)
MOZART                        Requiem, K. 626



Thursday, March 7, 2019, 8:00 p.m
Friday, March 8, 2019, 7:30 p.m., Edman Memorial Chapel—Wheaton
Saturday, March 9, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 10, 2019, 3:00 p.m.

David Afkham, conductor
Nicholas Angelich, piano

BEETHOVEN                 “Coriolan” Overture, Op. 62
BEETHOVEN                 Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (“Emperor”)
DVOŘÁK                        Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70


Thursday, March 14, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, March 15, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 16, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
Jennifer Gunn, piccolo

ROSSINI                         “Il viaggio a Reims” Overture
VIVALDI                          Piccolo Concerto in C Major, RV 444
BENSHOOF                   Concerto in Three Movements for Piccolo and Orchestra
BEETHOVEN                 Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
WAGNER                       Overture to “Tannhäuser”


Thursday, March 21, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 23, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Vadim Gluzman, violin

SIBELIUS                        “Nightride and Sunrise,” Op. 55
BRUCH                           Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
MENDELSSOHN            Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 (“Scottish”)


Thursday, March 28, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, March 29, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 30, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
John Relyea, bass

R. STRAUSS                  “Also sprach Zarathustra,” Op. 30
BARTÓK                         “Bluebeard’s Castle”



Thursday, April 4, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 5, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 6, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Jakub Hrůša, conductor
Lisa Batiashvili, violin

BORODIN                       Symphony No. 2 in B Minor
DVOŘÁK                         Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53
SHOSTAKOVICH           Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op 70


Thursday, April 11, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 12, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 13, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 7:30 p.m., Krannert Center – Champaign

Emmanuel Krivine, conductor
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano

BERLIOZ                        “Roman Carnival” Overture, Op. 9
CHOPIN                          Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11
ZEMLINSKY                   “The Mermaid”


Thursday, April 18, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 19, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 20, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Fabien Gabel, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano

BARTÓK                         Dance Suite
DEBUSSY                       “Printemps”
BRAHMS                         Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83


Thursday, April 25, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 26, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 27, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Nikolaj Znaider, conductor
Gautier Capuçon, cello

ELGAR                            Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85
MAHLER                         Symphony No. 1 in D Major



Thursday, May 2, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, May 3, 2019, 7:30 p.m., Edman Memorial Chapel – Wheaton
Saturday, May 4, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano

CHERUBINI                    Overture to “Anacréon, ou L’amour fugitif”
BERLIOZ                         “The Death of Cleopatra,” Lyric Scene for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra
BIZET                              “Roma”
RESPIGHI                       “Pines of Rome”


Thursday, May 9, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, May 10, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
Mitsuko Uchida, piano

MOZART                    Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro,” K. 492
MOZART                    Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
STRAVINSKY             “Apollon musagète,” Ballet in Two Scenes (1947 version)
STRAVINSKY             Suite from “The Firebird” (1919 revision)


Thursday, May 16, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, May 17, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 18, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Mikko Franck, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin

RAUTAVAARA                    “A Requiem in Our Time”
SIBELIUS                            Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47
RACHMANINOV                 Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27


Thursday, May 23, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, May 24, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 26, 2019, 3:00 p.m.

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor
Pablo Sáinz Villegas, guitar
Daniel Binelli, bandoneón

GINASTERA                   Four Dances from “Estancia”
RODRIGO                      “Concierto de Aranjuez” for Guitar and Orchestra
CHABRIER                     “España”
PIAZZOLLA                    “Sinfonía Buenos Aires,” Op. 15


Thursday, May 30, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, May 31, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Matthias Pintscher, conductor
The Joffrey Ballet
Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon

ROSSINI                         Overture to “Il barbiere di Siviglia” (Italian edition)
RAVEL                            “Mother Goose”
STRAVINSKY                Concerto in E-flat for Chamber Orchestra (“Dumbarton Oaks”) [World Premiere Ballet]
STRAVINSKY                Suite from “Pulcinella”



Thursday, June 6, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, June 7, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 8, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Simone Young, conductor

LISZT                              “Prometheus,” Symphonic Poem No. 5
WAGNER                        Excerpts from “Götterdämmerung”
BRAHMS                         Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25, Orch. SCHOENBERG


Thursday, June 13, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, June 14, 2019, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 15, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
Charles Vernon, bass trombone

GERSHWIN                   “An American in Paris”
STEPHENSON              Bass Trombone Concerto [World Premiere, CSO Commission]
TCHAIKOVSKY             Suite No. 3 in G Major, Op. 55


Friday, June 21, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 23, 2019, 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

Riccardo Muti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director
Krassimira Stoyanova, soprano (Aida)

VERDI                   “Aida”

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