CSO cancels all events through year’s end, erasing orchestra concerts and other series
Report: Pandemic made it impossible “to move forward with programs for the fall,” CSO president Jeff Alexander says.
By Lawrence B. Johnson
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has canceled its entire autumn slate of concerts and related events through the end of 2020, joining Lyric Opera of Chicago and major performing arts organizations around the country in acknowledging the threat of COVID-19.
Conspicuously wiped out by the decision is Beethoven’s grand Missa Solemnis, the capstone to the CSO’s already truncated observance of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Music director Riccardo Muti was scheduled to lead performances with the CSO Chorus in September.
“We reached the conclusion that it was not possible to move forward with the programs we had originally planned for the fall,” said CSO Association president Jeff Alexander. “As we look ahead and make plans for ensemble concerts for the fall, we are also eager for the day when Maestro Muti and the full orchestra can come together again to share music with local, national and international audiences.”
Alexander said the hard call was based on “the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions on public gatherings still in place and our ongoing priority to ensure the health and safety of our patrons, musicians and staff.”
The sweep of cancellations includes all events Sept. 17 through Dec. 23 involving the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Center Presents, MusicNOW and public programs of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO, including Civic Orchestra of Chicago concerts.
Announcement of the autumn erasure cited “the rapidly evolving conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and is in accordance with the State of Illinois and City of Chicago’s multi-phase recovery plans, and in response to the current safety guidelines from public health officials.”
Besides exploring the possibility of rescheduling affected programs in the future, the CSO will pursue ideas for presenting smaller-scale live and online performances this fall. The orchestra plans to release an update on those explorations in August.
While live concert activities are interrupted, audiences can connect with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through the “CSO From Home” content portal to access a wide variety of content featuring performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and CSO musicians.
The expanded content includes the new radio series – “From the CSO’s Archives: Maestro’s Choice,” presented in partnership with WFMT classical radio – and the “Gems from the Vault” programs featuring archival CSO radio broadcasts. Concert performances available on the CSO’s YouTube channel include the 2014 performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and soloists. That performance has surpassed 22 million views on YouTube, the orchestra reported.
In addition, a 2010 performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 conducted by the late conductor emeritus Pierre Boulez is available for on-demand streaming through Aug. 21, 2020. The CSOA is presenting virtual recitals featuring CSO musicians throughout summer 2020. For updates about new content and special programs, visit cso.org to join the CSO’s email list.