Classical music critic of The Chicago Tribune since 1977.

Before coming to Chicago that year, he was classical music and dance critic for ...

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John von Rhein

John von Rhein

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Bach Week Festival's marathon man back for another run

Bach Week Festival's marathon man back for another run

April 22, 2014

He may not have composed more than 1,100 musical works, nor has he fathered 20 children. Otherwise, Richard Webster has much in common with Johann Sebastian Bach.

  • Review: Leonard Slatkin conducts the CSO

    April 18, 2014

    As conductor Leonard Slatkin pointed out to the audience at Thursday night's Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at Symphony Center, it's likely his listeners were more familiar with the music of Mason Bates than that of William Schuman.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    April 17, 2014

    Chicago a cappella: The vocal ensemble under guest music director Rollo Dilworth celebrates the evolution of gospel music, from pre-gospel classical works to the genre's full flowering in Chicago. 8 p.m. Saturday, Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago, 915 E. 60th St.; $30-$38, $25 for seniors; 773-281-7820,

  • Leonard Slatkin ventures down memory lane of his Hollywood youth

    April 15, 2014

    Few people are lucky enough to be surrounded by as astonishing a diversity of music and musicians as conductor Leonard Slatkin was while growing up.

  • Review: St. Matthew Passion at Harris Theater

    April 13, 2014

    When John Nelson conducted J.S. Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" for the first time in Chicago three years ago, he did so hoping the response would warrant his presenting all three of the composer's big sacred choral masterpieces in rotation each year during Holy Week.

  • Review: Christian Tetzlaff plays Dvorak with CSO

    April 11, 2014

    One big reason why the symphonic programs Esa-Pekka Salonen puts together are so absorbing is the unsuspected musical resonances that tie together the diverse elements. So it is with the program that concludes the second of the Finnish conductor-composer's two subscription weeks with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend at Symphony Center.

  • Classical Corner

    April 10, 2014

    Amanda DeBoer Bartlett: The Chicago soprano is joined by instrumentalists Shanna Gutierrez and Jesse Langen for a program of new chamber works, including local premieres. 7:30 p.m. Monday, Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.; $10;

  • Esa-Pekka Salonen on multi-tasking, Northwestern and the CSO

    April 8, 2014

    Perhaps Esa-Pekka Salonen's Nordic cool and Chicago's propensity for long, bone-chilling winters similar to those of his native Finland have destined this musician and this city to be soulmates.

  • Review: Itzhak Perlman at the Civic Opera House

    April 7, 2014

    There are less appropriate venues in the city in which to hold a violin recital than the Civic Opera House. Wrigley Field, for example, or the United Center. But the Opera House is problematic enough.

  • Review: Salonen begins CSO residency

    April 4, 2014

    Esa-Pekka Salonen's guest relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has spanned a remarkably productive 26 years. The period neatly brackets the composer and conductor's rise from being a relatively unknown golden boy of the baton to his achieving international eminence.

  • Byron Janis on his long battle with arthritis

    April 1, 2014

    Byron Janis is one of the most inspiring survivors in classical music.

  • Music of the Baroque concert review

    March 31, 2014

    Many scholars and musicians would agree that Haydn's "The Creation" is the composer's masterpiece. Jane Glover, Music of the Baroque's music director, in fact ranks this astonishing oratorio among the top five works in all of Western music.

  • Cantin, Bridges among Lyric's brightest rising stars of Ryan Opera Center

    March 30, 2014

    It seems rather a shame that Lyric Opera restricts admission to "Rising Stars in Concert," the company's showcase concerts by the young singers of its Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center professional development program, to donors and media members.

  • Muti winds down spring CSO tenure on elegiac note

    March 28, 2014

    A key to understanding Riccardo Muti's approach to Franz Schubert lies in his contention that the Austrian composer's music is all about "great intimacy and great reflection."

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    March 27, 2014

    Avalon String Quartet: The ensemble completes its season-long Bartok cycle with the composer's String Quartet No. 6, paired with Prokofiev's Quartet No. 2. 2 p.m. Sunday, Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.; free with museum admission;

  • Riccardo Muti says future of music sounds flat

    March 25, 2014

    It's no secret by now that Riccardo Muti is a man of passionate convictions, especially when it comes to speaking out about the central importance of music to a civilized society. It's a trope central to the Italian maestro's very soul as a world-famous musician who bestrides several nations and several cultures.

  • Lyric's amusing 'Family Barber' hits home with young audience

    March 23, 2014

    For a second straight year, Lyric Opera has turned to a staple of Italian comic opera, Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," as the basis for a show designed to introduce children ages 5-10, and their elders, to the joys of opera.

  • Review: Riccardo Muti, CSO perform Schubert

    March 21, 2014

    It's an interesting coincidence that Riccardo Muti's spring residency at Symphony Center is beginning soon after the end of the Vienna Philharmonic's own residency in New York's Carnegie Hall, part of an extended festival of operatic and symphonic music there called "Vienna: City of Dreams."

  • Fleming, Kaufmann bring fans to their feet at first joint Lyric concert

    March 20, 2014

    No disrespect to soprano Renee Fleming, but the leading attraction of Lyric Opera's Subscriber Appreciation Concert in which she appeared Wednesday night was her co-star, German superstar singer Jonas Kaufmann, the hottest and most sought-after tenor in today's opera world.

  • Classical music recommendations

    March 20, 2014

    $10 BGH Classics: Musicians from the Steans Music Institute perform quartets by Schubert and David Ludwig, kicking off a spring tour that includes a concert in Havana, Cuba. 8 p.m. Saturday, Bennett Gordon Hall, Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake-Cook roads, Highland Park; $10; 847-266-5100,

  • A diva wannabe no longer, Amanda Majeski returns home to Mozart

    March 18, 2014

    Talk about an operatic career coming full circle.

  • Ars Viva Symphony treats audience to an English musical rarity

    March 17, 2014

    Concertgoers look to the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra to bring them unusual repertory, also thoughtful combinations of familiar and unfamiliar music, they cannot find in downtown Chicago. Music director Alan Heatherington has some of the area's finest symphonic players at his disposal – his small orchestra includes members of the Chicago Symphony – along with the skills to connect in an immediate way with instrumentalists and audience members alike.

  • Uchida launches CSO residency with intimate Mozart, Schubert

    March 14, 2014

    Well before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took up Pierre Boulez's ideas about ridding symphony concerts of their hidebound habits, Mitsuko Uchida was doing something similar at her annual appearances here, mixing and matching small and medium-sized works on the same program.

  • Ray Still, legendary CSO oboist and teacher remembered

    March 12, 2014

    Most oboe players are famous for being rather neurotic and even a bit crazy. The stereotype derives from all those long hours oboists spend making reeds and having to force air through an aperture no bigger than the eye of a medium-sized needle, all to produce a beautiful sound on a recalcitrant wind instrument.

  • Zubin Mehta talks about his 'lasting marriage' to the Israel Philharmonic

    March 11, 2014

    In this day of peripatetic music directors who juggle multiple appointments in various corners of the globe, most conductors are unable, or unwilling, to forge permanent relationships such as were commonplace in the symphony orchestra world several generations ago.

  • Dal Niente, eighth blackbird make banner weekend for new music buffs

    March 10, 2014

    The annual appearances of the Chicago-based new-music sextet known as eighth blackbird on the MCA Stage series at the Museum of Contemporary Art are among the most anticipated events of the concert season. The ensemble's program over the weekend reflected the group's penchant for stylistic diversity and for championing of emerging talents among the younger generation of composers.

  • Haymarket's double bill a stylish bow to the French baroque

    March 8, 2014

    OPERA REVIEW: "Acteon" and "Le Jugement de Pan" at Haymarket Opera Company. The urge to breathe fresh contemporary life into forgotten musical gems from the late 17th century speaks directly to the artistic mission of Haymarket Opera Company.

  • Static drama, glorious singing, in Lyric Opera's season finale

    March 6, 2014

    OPERA REVIEW: 'La Clemenza di Tito' at Lyric Opera of Chicago ★★★½ Mozart's penultimate opera, "La Clemenza di Tito," is now generally hailed as a masterpiece after languishing on the fringes of the repertory for the better part of the last century.

  • Haymarket Opera makes another foray into French baroque rarities

    March 4, 2014

    With Chicago Opera Theater now focusing on contemporary music theater works, the responsibility for introducing Chicago audiences to seldom-performed stage works from the 17th and 18th centuries rests on the Haymarket Opera Company. Since its debut in 2011, the Chicago troupe has dedicated itself to recreating this repertoire using historically informed stage direction, movement and design, and played by small ensembles of period instruments.

  • Pianist Kissin in commanding form in Schubert-Scriabin recital

    March 3, 2014

    The recital program given by Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin Sunday afternoon at Orchestra Hall added dimension to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's present cycle of the Schubert symphonies under Riccardo Muti. At the same time, it provided valuable insights into the keyboard music of Alexander Scriabin, whose mystical symphonies Muti and the orchestra will be exploring next season.

  • Even with Boulez absent, CSO's thoughtful program has the master's touch

    February 28, 2014

    Despite the earnest efforts of Pierre Boulez over the last 40 years or so to liberate symphony orchestras from the rigid confines of hidebound tradition – in terms of both repertory and how that repertory is presented to audiences – few if any other classical musicians in positions of such authority have taken up his ideas. And fewer still are likely to do so after him.

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    February 27, 2014

    Chicago Arts Orchestra: The ensemble opens its season with a program of rarely-heard choral-orchestral works from 18th century Spain and Mexico. 8 p.m. Friday, First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St., Oak Park; and 8 p.m. Saturday, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 1429 W. Wellington Ave.; $20, $15 for seniors; 773-248-0644,

  • Third Coast contributes to 'youthquake' in city's new-music scene

    February 25, 2014

    Sitting in a packed house of excited, engaged young people at a concert by Third Coast Percussion last week in the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts, I was reminded how much the city's lively – and getting livelier all the time – new-music scene owes to the active involvement of this age group.

  • Poignant heroine, splendid staging, make Lyric's first 'Rusalka' a winner

    February 24, 2014

    OPERA REVIEW: 'Rusalka' at Lyric Opera of Chicago ★★★★ The belated entry of Antonin Dvorak's "Rusalka" into the Lyric Opera repertory is an event to be celebrated.

  • Major CSO musician returning from New York

    February 21, 2014

  • CSO's Boulez-conceived program a bracing departure

    February 21, 2014

    The vigorous musical intelligence of one of today's greatest living musicians is on full display for the next two weeks of Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts, even if that musician regrettably will not be leading those concerts.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    February 20, 2014

    Apollo Chorus: Stephen Alltop leads his choral forces and Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra in two choral masterpieces, Mozart's "Great" Mass in minor and Dvorak's Te Deum. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. (repeated March 2 in Elmhurst); $35; 312-427-5620,

  • Dvorak's adult fairytale, 'Rusalka,' comes to the Lyric

    February 18, 2014

    The final new production of the current Lyric Opera season is a work few audience members have ever encountered in live performance: Antonin Dvorak's "Rusalka."

  • The Duke's music is a delight, but COT's 'Queenie Pie' is flawed as drama

    February 16, 2014

    OPERA REVIEW: 'Queenie Pie' by Chicago Opera Theater at the Harris Theater ★★★ ... Duke Ellington died in 1974, the same year that the city's second opera company, Chicago Opera Theater, was founded.

  • McGegan, Genaux bring verve to unusual CSO program

    February 14, 2014

    Nicholas McGegan has built his reputation as a Baroque and Classical period specialist largely on his 27 seasons as music director of the San Francisco-based period-instrument ensemble Philharmonia Baroque, although he actually is at home in music of all periods. Like his fellow Brits Jane Glover and Nicholas Kraemer at Music of the Baroque, he's perfectly adept at translating his expertise in the period realm to modern-orchestra performances. He is reminding local audiences of that fact with his concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend and next week.

  • Chicago classical music recommendations

    February 13, 2014

    Chicago a cappella: Jewish a cappella music from around the world, including new arrangements by artistic director Jonathan Miller, makes up the program. 8 p.m. Saturday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; and 4 p.m. Sunday, K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation, 1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd. (repeated Feb. 22 in Naperville and Feb. 23 in River Forest); $30-$38, $25 for seniors; 773-281-7820,

  • Grant Park Music Festival lineup revealed

    February 11, 2014

    Although it feels as if Chicago will be trapped under a polar icecap at least until the Bears head off to summer training camp, the promise that this, too, shall pass is underscored by the season announcements of the area’s two major summer music festivals.

  • Review: Kremer, ensemble argue the merits of lesser-known Soviet composer Weinberg

    February 9, 2014

    Gidon Kremer's refusal to fall back on areas of musical programming within the comfort zone of the mainstream concert public has opened up brave new aural vistas ever since the Latvian-born violin virtuoso began bringing his Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra to downtown Chicago nearly 20 years ago.

  • Review: Eloquent reading of Schubert carries Muti concert

    February 7, 2014

    With the dual announcement of Riccardo Muti's contract renewal and details of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 2014-15 season earlier this week, a portrait is gradually emerging of the musical directions the orchestra will be taking through the end of the decade. The program with which the music director is concluding his winter residency this weekend at Symphony Center dropped further clues.

  • Chicago-area classical concert recommendations

    February 6, 2014

    Ars Viva: Alan Heatherington conducts music for string orchestra, including Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin's colorfully scored ballet based on music from Bizet's "Carmen," Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings and Vaughan Williams' Oboe Concerto, with principal oboe Stephen Colburn as soloist. 3 p.m. Sunday, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; $15-$60; 847-673-6300,

  • CSO's Muti looks ahead to 6 more years in Chicago

    February 4, 2014

    Microphone in hand, working the room with his usual seasoned authority and quip-filled charm, Riccardo Muti insisted he is "not a sentimental man." He then proceeded to wax sentimental about his ongoing relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Muti to remain at CSO until 2020

    February 3, 2014

    Riccardo Muti has signed a new contract with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association as CSO music director, which will extend until August 2020.

  • Lyric's new 'Barber' brings strong cast to old classic

    February 2, 2014

    OPERA REVIEW: 'Barber of Seville' at the Lyric Opera of Chicago ★★★★ ... Of all the great operatic comedies, "The Barber of Seville" has led a particularly charmed life at Lyric Opera, beginning with the company's very first season.

  • Review: Muti begins CSO residency with exuberant premiere

    January 31, 2014

    Riccardo Muti strode briskly to the podium Thursday evening at Symphony Center, looking as if he were determined to make the most of his locally abbreviated winter residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Replacing Rutter: It pays to know the CSO's pedigree

    January 31, 2014

    Putting the search for Deborah Rutter's successor in historical perspective, a common thread emerges of challenges met, opportunities missed and varying responses to shifting economics and demographics outside the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Each executive director's successes and failures depended to a great extent on that person's management style and personality; who was music director at the time; how powerful that music director was; the nature of the board and board committee leadership; and many other factors.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    January 30, 2014

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Riccardo Muti returns to lead the world premiere of a CSO-commissioned work, Italian composer Giovanni Sollima's "Antidotum Tarantulae" Concerto for Two Cellos and Orchestra, with Yo-Yo Ma and the composer as duo-soloists. Muti's season-long cycle of the Schubert symphonies begins with Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 ("Tragic"); 1:30 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday; $35-$278. The Chicago Symphony Chorus and vocal soloists join Muti and the CSO for a program that includes Schubert's rarely heard Mass in A flat and Ennio Morricone's "Voices from the Silence," a memorial to the victims of 9/11; 8 p.m. Thursday (repeated Feb. 7-8); $32-$214. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-294-3000,

  • 'Barber of Seville' director goes from Broadway to Lyric Opera

    January 28, 2014

    When Lyric Opera unveils its new production of Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" ("The Barber of Seville") on Saturday night, it will mark the company debut of Rob Ashford, yet another of this season's imports from the legitimate theater, Broadway and television who come to Chicago with little or no operatic staging experience.

  • New 'Don Giovanni,' 'Tosca' highlight Lyric Opera's 2014-15 season

    January 27, 2014

    Lyric Opera’s 60th anniversary season will run Sept. 27 to March 15 at the Civic Opera House and will consist of 68 performances of eight operas, the same total as that of the current season.

  • Review: Von Otter, Ax launch Brahms series on a high artistic note

    January 27, 2014

    Given that the music of Johannes Brahms is so inescapably a part of every concert season in Chicago, an observer might wonder why Symphony Center would want to devote a special series to the German Romantic master. Pianist Emanuel Ax has just the answer, this season bringing us a series of three programs surrounding Brahms' piano, vocal and chamber music with – here's the twist – newly commissioned works inspired by Brahms' music.

  • CSO back at Morton Arboretum in June

    January 26, 2014

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    January 23, 2014

    Emanuel Ax: The pianist is joined by Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter for the first of three Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music series events that include newly commissioned works performed alongside piano pieces and songs by Brahms. Featured will be a recent Nico Muhly work for Von Otter and Ax, and Missy Mazzoli's "Bolts of Loving Thunder." 3 p.m. Sunday, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $21-$87; 312-294-3000,

  • Lyric-bound opera confronts Holocaust issues in strong U.S. premiere

    January 23, 2014

    HOUSTON – There is a growing catalog of music written in the aftermath of the Holocaust that attempts to grapple head-on with the ineffable horrors of the Nazi era. None has managed to secure a toehold in the regular repertory.

  • CSO series promises a peek into Schubert's vast musical output, but the composer remains elusive

    January 21, 2014

    Of the five great composers whose names are etched into the Michigan Avenue façade of Orchestra Hall, Franz Schubert may be the least familiar to today's listeners.

  • Claudio Abbado, former CSO principal guest conductor, dies at 80

    January 20, 2014

    Claudio Abbado, one of the most gifted and widely respected symphonic and operatic conductors of the latter half of the 20th Century, died Monday morning at his home in Bologna, Italy, after a long illness La Scala said. He was 80.

  • Lyric Opera will launch new Wagner cycle in 2016

    January 17, 2014

    Nothing in the repertory tests an opera company's world-class bona fides more severely than its ability to mount Richard Wagner's “Ring” cycle.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    January 16, 2014

    Ani Gogova and Ian Maksin: The Chicago-based piano-cello duo performs as part of the Jewel Box Series. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Recital Hall and Auditorium, Northeastern Illinois University, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.; $10-$25; 773-442-4636,

  • Chicago-area classical concert recommendations

    January 9, 2014

    Avalon Quartet: The string foursome, in residence at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, continues its Bartok quartet cycle with Quartet No. 4. Mozart's Quartet in B flat (K.589) completes the bill. 2 p.m. Sunday, Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.; free with museum admission;

  • Never mind the cold, there's a wealth of chamber music to keep listeners warm

    January 7, 2014

    If I were to identify the number one growth industry in Chicago music during my 36 years on the classical beat, it would unquestionably be chamber music.

  • Winter 2014 in Classical Music: Ten classical events to warm a Chicago winter

    January 3, 2014

    This is the winter of our content. "Our," as in Chicago classical music lovers. "Content," as in pleasure unbounded. The coming three months promise a rich array of performances that should appeal to just about every listener taste, whether the music is Baroque or contemporary, or whether the genre is chamber, symphonic or opera. Here are 10 major events taking place between now and the end of March you will want to circle on your calendar:

  • Chicago classical music recommendations

    January 2, 2014

    Featured pick:

  • Rutter was CSO's fixed point in 2013

    December 25, 2013

    Any observer of administrative excellence at the top echelon of American symphony orchestras in 2013 had to conclude it was the Year of the Deborahs.

  • What kind of classical music year was it? Let us count the ways

    December 24, 2013

    The year began badly for Riccardo Muti – and, by extension, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – when the maestro suffered a bout of flu followed by hernia surgery within only a couple of weeks in January. These latest health setbacks forced Muti to bow out of his third set of Chicago concerts in less than three years, including what would have been his and the CSO's first joint tour of Asia. Guest conductors were hastily enlisted to fill the breach.

  • 'Health issues' sideline Boulez from CSO residency

    December 21, 2013

    The eminent French composer-conductor Pierre Boulez, conductor emeritus of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has withdrawn for health reasons from the announced February-March CSO residency he was initially scheduled to conduct and, later, curate here.

  • CSO bids farewell to 2013 with sturdy showing under Eschenbach

    December 20, 2013

    The Christmas wreaths and garlands adorning the Armour Stage at Orchestra Hall may put audience members in a festive mood, but the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's final subscription program of 2013 conveys a serious intent unrelated to the musical sweetmeats served up by the season.

  • Chicago classical music recommendations

    December 19, 2013

    Bella Voce: Andrew Lewis takes his chamber choir on a Christmas journey through distant lands and centuries with fresh arrangements of favorite holiday pieces, along with Renaissance classics. 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Procopius Abbey, 5601 College Road, Lisle; and 3:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman Ave., Evanston; $30-$38, $15 for students; 877-755-6277,

  • Chamber music society reups at Harris Theater

    December 18, 2013

    The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has extended its three-year residency at Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance another three years, through the 2016-17 season.

  • New Philharmonic ushers in the new year at a modernized MAC

    December 17, 2013

    If you're wondering why the New Philharmonic has been silent for most of the year, wonder no more. The orchestra hasn't disbanded – it has simply been laying low, awaiting the day when its refurbished venue would reopen for business.

  • A commanding account of Chavez rarity highlights CSO concert

    December 13, 2013

    At the end of a week dominated by the news of Deborah Rutter's impending departure as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, CSO listeners and supporters would do well to count the blessings the orchestra has at hand.

  • Lyric Opera serves up a delightful, funny 'Fledermaus'

    December 11, 2013

    Who would have thought that the strongest overall ensemble effort of the Lyric Opera season so far would be "Die Fledermaus"?

  • CSO president Rutter leaving for Kennedy Center

    December 10, 2013

    One of the first things Deborah F. Rutter said in April 2003 after she had just been announced as president-elect of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association was: “I pride myself on being a good listener.”

  • COT jumps back in the pool with 'Orpheus'

    December 8, 2013

    The Chicago Opera Theater production of Ricky Ian Gordon's "Orpheus & Euridice" made such a splash last month at the Eckhart Park swimming pool, where every seat was filled for all four performances, that the company is bringing the show back for three encore performances.

  • CSO 'Beyond the Score' program brings Berlioz to life, raging passions and all

    December 7, 2013

    With a romantic fever-dream scenario that fairly cries out for pictorial and theatrical realization, Hector Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" was a "Beyond the Score" program waiting to happen.

  • From great maestros to historic Horowitz, best classical box sets for 2013

    December 6, 2013

    Of the classical boxed sets released this year, here are six collections that have given me particular pleasure. May they provide comparable listening cheer to you and the music lovers on your Christmas gift list.

  • Picking favorites among year's top classical albums

    December 6, 2013

    As in the past, my annual classical picks are not the "best" albums of 2013 (who could possibly have heard them all?), but, rather, releases that have brightened my listening year. I recommend them in the hope they will provide a rewarding soundtrack to your holidays, and beyond.

  • Deneve's return to CSO marked by pretty fantastic Berlioz

    December 6, 2013

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is relying on a handful of familiar guest conductors to take charge of subscription concerts through the end of the calendar year. None of these returnees is more welcome than Stephane Deneve, who is making his first podium appearances this weekend at Symphony Center since his memorable CSO debut in 2011.

  • Chicago area Christmas choral music abounds

    December 5, 2013

    It seems as if everywhere you turn this month in and around Chicago, you'll find choirs large, small and in-between raising their voices in joyous celebration of Christmas. Here is our annual guide to the seasonal choral bounty (events are listed in chronological order):

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    December 5, 2013

    Apollo Chorus of Chicago: Stephen Alltop leads the choir, soloists and orchestra in the first of two downtown Chicago performances of Handel's beloved oratorio, "Messiah." 3 p.m. Saturday at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. (repeated Dec. 21 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance); $18-$75; 312-294-3000,

  • What's it like bringing a new opera into the world? Ask Lyric's 'Bel Canto' team

    December 3, 2013

    It's a chilly Saturday afternoon, and a room at the Civic Opera House normally given over to the rehearsing of old operas has become the breeding ground for a new opera.

  • Gerhaher cancels Schubert recital

    December 1, 2013

    Illness has forced German baritone Christian Gerhaher to cancel the performance of Schubert's song cycle “Winterreise” he was scheduled to give with pianist Gerold Huber at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Symphony Center. The recital will not be rescheduled.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    November 29, 2013

    Anaphora: The third annual Sounds of Chicago concert of new music features the A/B Duo giving the premieres of chamber works by Drew Baker, Jenna Lyle and Carolyn O'Brien. 2 p.m. Sunday at Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $5;

  • Spektral Quartet dials up micro-symphonies for cellphone

    November 26, 2013

    Tired of those boilerplate ringtones that signal an incoming call or text message on your cellphone? Chicago's Spektral Quartet has devised a smart alternative that will enable you to literally carry around new music in your pocket.

  • Thomas' eloquent Mahler 9th Symphony ranks with CSO's best

    November 22, 2013

    It was altogether fitting that Michael Tilson Thomas chose Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9 to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during a weekend when the nation is marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The composer's last completed symphony is a work about leavetaking, filled with veiled intimations of mortality. We are reminded that Mahler wrote it just a year before he died of heart disease, at 50.

  • Classical Corner

    November 21, 2013

    American Chamber Opera: Bizet's ever-popular "Carmen" is updated to a modern Chicago setting. Through Sunday, Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington St.; $30-$50, $20 for seniors; 773-363-7965,

  • 'La Traviata' features a standout tenor, uneven performance

    November 21, 2013

    Verdi's "La Traviata" may be the most popular work in the entire Lyric Opera repertory, having appeared in 14 of the company's 59 seasons, beginning with its very first in 1954, when Maria Callas sang the title role. Given the familiarity of the story and its hit parade of beloved arias, some would imagine the work practically plays itself.

  • Music of the Baroque's success story brings a reality check

    November 19, 2013

    As classical music organizations continue to suffer the effects of the massive economic temblor that hit the nation some four years ago, just maintaining the status quo without major losses of funding or audience represents a victory.

  • CSO, choruses, soloists deliver heartfelt Britten 'War Requiem'

    November 15, 2013

    With the 100th birthday anniversary of Benjamin Britten less than a week away, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is turning this significant milestone into an extended salute to the greatest composer England produced in the last century.

  • Chicago classical music recommendations

    November 14, 2013

    American Chamber Opera: Bizet's ever-popular "Carmen" is updated to a modern Chicago setting. Opens 7 p.m. Friday, International House, University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th St.; and continues through Nov. 24, Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington St.; $30-$50, $20 for seniors; 773-363-7965,

  • Remembering Reiner: CSO's dour perfectionist of the podium did it his way

    November 12, 2013

    If Georg Solti carried the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to international glory, it was another larger-than-life Hungarian, Fritz Reiner, who gave it the power on which that glory continues to reside.

  • Lyric Opera's 'Parsifal' a chalice half-full

    November 10, 2013

    Ever since the 1882 premiere of Richard Wagner's final stage work, "Parsifal," at the composer's custom-built opera house in Bayreuth, Germany, performers have wrestled mightily with the problems inherent in this long, ambiguous, enigmatic, gloriously inspired music drama.

  • New director for Lyric Opera's 'Bel Canto'

    November 7, 2013

    Kevin Newbury has replaced Stephen Wadsworth as stage director for Lyric Opera's world-premiere production of "Bel Canto," which is scheduled to open in December 2015. The opera, with music by Jimmy Lopez and libretto by Nilo Cruz, is based on Ann Patchett's best-selling novel of the same name.

  • Richard Wagner's dark knight returns to Lyric Opera

    November 5, 2013

    It's been said that more has been written about Richard Wagner than anybody who's ever lived, except for Jesus Christ. Wagner no doubt would have been flattered by the comparison.

  • COT shines shimmering modern light on ancient myth

    November 3, 2013

    IN PERFORMANCE: 'Orpheus and Euridice' from Chicago Opera Theater ★★★★ Chicago audiences have dipped their toes in various realms of aquatic theater before...

  • Haitink's quiet authority carries Austrian masters with CSO

    November 1, 2013

    This season marks the 60th anniversary of Bernard Haitink's conducting debut, and, in that light, it's a pity the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's former principal conductor won't be spending more time with the ensemble he kept in such gleaming artistic shape during the long and uncertain period from Daniel Barenboim's departure to Riccardo Muti's arrival.

  • Chicago Opera Theater hopes 'Orpheus and Euridice' will make a splash

    October 29, 2013

    Chicago Opera Theater audiences are accustomed to being transported to places they've never been before. But even at that, the company's upcoming performances of Ricky Ian Gordon's "Orpheus and Euridice" will ask them to take a very big plunge.

  • Forbis replaces Botha in Lyric's 'Otello'

    October 28, 2013

    Tenor Johan Botha has been forced to withdraw from the final performances of Verdi’s “Otello” at Lyric Opera, Tuesday and Saturday in the Civic Opera House. The singer is suffering from severe back pain and has flown to Vienna for treatment, according to a statement released by the company on Monday.

  • Haymarket Opera offers stylish take on 'Pimpinone'

    October 27, 2013

    Haymarket Opera Company's first foray into the German baroque repertory, Georg Philipp Telemann's comic opera "Pimpinone," presented in three performances over the weekend at Mayne Stage, was a happy excursion into a largely forgotten niche of operatic history.

  • Bychkov's return to CSO gives British master Walton his due

    October 25, 2013

    Especially now, with all the hoopla surrounding the centennial of Benjamin Britten, his contemporary and fellow Englishman, William Walton, has been shoved to the margins of our concert life. But Walton, who died in 1983, seven years after Britten's passing, was a great Briton in his own musical right, leaving behind a substantial body of works that don't deserve the neglect they have suffered just about everywhere except in his homeland.

  • CSO reports small deficit, record ticket sales and fundraising

    October 24, 2013

    While other U.S. symphony orchestras are buffeted by budget shortfalls, declining attendance, labor unrest and other problems, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra continues on a steady financial course.

  • Audiovisual jokes wear thin at MusicNOW opener

    October 22, 2013

    The less-is-more principle yet again proved its applicability in concerts of new classical music given around town over the past several days.

  • New World Symphony hints at brave new future of classical music

    October 20, 2013

    Chicago has its Civic Orchestra, Miami Beach its New World Symphony. Each is an innovative incubator of gifted young instrumentalists on the fast track to professional careers in symphony orchestras across the nation.

  • CSO conductor probes 20th century scores with brilliance, clarity

    October 18, 2013

    For concertgoers suffering the pangs of Riccardo Muti withdrawal, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has just the bracing pick-me-up.

  • Lyric's new 'Madama Butterfly' takes its time before soaring ★★★

    October 16, 2013

    Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera's general director, has pointed out that a new production of a warhorse such as Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" has to provide a seasoned operagoer with more than just a tune-filled trip down memory lane. A convincing balance ideally must be maintained between fulfilling the audience's expectations and giving them fresh reasons to be drawn into a music drama they know so well.

  • New World Symphony brings new mode of thinking to the fore

    October 15, 2013

    Once upon a time, people chuckled at the anomaly of a youth orchestra operating out of America's retirement capital. Nobody's chuckling anymore. Founded 26 years ago in Miami Beach, the New World Symphony has taken its place as one of the world's foremost professional training ensembles and music education laboratories, rolled into one.

  • Denk's journey through Bach's 'Goldbergs' playful and profound

    October 14, 2013

    Few of today's important concert pianists have pondered J.S. Bach's "Goldberg" Variations as deeply, written about the piece as extensively or play it as exuberantly, as Jeremy Denk.

  • CSO's Muti gets award from Rome

    October 13, 2013

    Riccardo Muti has received yet another award to put alongside the many he has amassed in the course of his distinguished career, this time from the Italian capital.

  • Chicago proffers a Verdi Requiem fit for the world

    October 11, 2013

    It was the shout heard 'round the world.

  • Lyric's 'Otello' brings unscripted excitement to season opening

    October 6, 2013

    Twists of fate have, of course, been the lifeblood of opera plots since the inception of the art, but they also have a way of creeping into operatic performances, especially given the vulnerabilities of singers' vocal cords. Such a twist lent an extra touch of drama to the performance of Verdi's "Otello" that opened the Lyric Opera season Saturday at the Civic Opera House.

  • Lyric star withdraws after first act

    October 5, 2013

    Lyric Opera's season-opening performance of Verdi 's "Otello" Saturday at the Civic Opera House took on an extra measure of drama when bass-baritone Falk Struckmann withdrew from the role of Iago after the first act because of what was announced as severe allergies. His understudy, American baritone Todd Thomas, took over for the rest of the performance.

  • Muti gives CSO a symphonic breather from operatic Verdi

    October 4, 2013

    Sooner or later Riccardo Muti had to take a break from all that Giuseppe Verdi.

  • Love, death, redemption-- washed down with schmaltz and bubbly

    October 4, 2013

    Dr. Samuel Johnson, the Brit who compiled the first major English dictionary, described opera as "an exotic and irrational entertainment."

  • Gergiev's Stravinsky marathon starts strongly but finishes weakly

    October 3, 2013

    The delight the players of the Mariinsky Orchestra and their charismatic chief, conductor Valery Gergiev, take in presenting their native Russian symphonic repertory to American audiences has been palpable since their first joint appearance in Chicago in 1998. Back then the orchestra was still going by its old Soviet name of the Kirov Orchestra.

  • Enter Andrew Grams at a boom time for suburban orchestras

    October 1, 2013

    While Chicago's suburban orchestras continue their eternal quest for newer and younger audiences to replace a graying demographic, the fact remains that those orchestras are enjoying an artistic boom.

  • NYC Opera folds; Vanska quits Minnesota

    October 1, 2013

    Having failed in its last-ditch effort to raise the $7 million deemed necessary to rescue New York City Opera from bankruptcy, company officials announced Tuesday the company will close.

  • Muti to lead rehearsal in River Forest

    September 30, 2013

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti will lead the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest in a public rehearsal at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Performing Arts Center of Dominican University, 7900 W. Division St., River Forest.

  • Dry acoustics aside, Ars Viva scores solid season opener

    September 30, 2013

    True to its founding principles, the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra continues to provide its North Shore constituency with varied programs that are lively but serious, accessible but substantial, conservatively yet intelligently planned.

  • The Macbeths are back, and Muti is in his Verdian glory

    September 29, 2013

    Riccardo Muti often has deplored stage directors who run roughshod over the intentions of operatic composers such as his beloved Giuseppe Verdi. There was no danger of that occurring at Saturday's long-awaited performance of Verdi's "Macbeth" by the maestro and his Chicago Symphony Orchestra because there wasn't a stage director within miles to distract attention from the music.

  • Levine returns to the Met in triumph

    September 25, 2013

    After an absence of two full seasons, music director James Levine returned to the podium at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time Tuesday night and by all accounts scored a triumph.

  • Riccardo Muti on Verdi: 'He speaks to all of us'

    September 24, 2013

    This is the week when Riccardo Muti and his Chicago Symphony Orchestra take on the first big project of their monthlong homage to Giuseppe Verdi on the 200th anniversary of his birth.

  • Conductor Rapchak rescues symphonic rarity from oblivion

    September 23, 2013

    Hans Rott, whose once-obscure Symphony in E major received its Chicago-area premiere by the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra on Sunday at Sheely Center for the Performing Arts in Northbrook, was one of the saddest cases of unfulfilled promise in music history.

  • Opera Theater's 'Joan of Arc' yields mixed results

    September 23, 2013

    Gratitude mixed with disappointment is one's immediate reaction to Chicago Opera Theater's new production of Giuseppe Verdi's "Giovanna d'Arco" ("Joan of Arc"), which opened Saturday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

  • Review: Opera Theater's 'Joan of Arc' yields mixed results

    September 22, 2013

    Gratitude mixed with disappointment is one's immediate reaction to Chicago Opera Theater's new production of Giuseppe Verdi's "Giovanna d'Arco" ("Joan of Arc"), which opened Saturday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

  • Muti, CSO shine through dark and stormy night

    September 20, 2013

    Since Riccardo Muti took office at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2010, he has made it a tradition to perform a free community concert at the beginning of each season. The maestro did so again Wednesday night in west suburban Cicero, some 24 hours before leading his orchestra in the opening subscription concert of his fourth season as music director at Symphony Center. Their strong showing at both events augured well for the months ahead.

  • Chicago Opera Theater tackles an early Verdi rarity

    September 17, 2013

    With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera driving the Giuseppe Verdi bicentennial bandwagon, there nevertheless is room for other local organizations to climb on board.

  • Chicago group revitalizes art song tradition with compelling recitals

    September 13, 2013

    With the Collaborative Works festivals tenor Nicholas Phan and colleagues of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago are presenting annually, Chicago is doing its bit to rescue art song performance from the endangered species list.

  • 'Love' is in the air at richly stocked Beethoven Festival

    September 10, 2013

    This time around, even Rahm Emanuel is feeling the love. The fact that the Chicago mayor has proclaimed Sept. 7-15 "Beethoven Festival Week in Chicago" can only help to lure more curiosity seekers to the festival's third annual edition, which continues daily through Sunday at the Merit School of Music in the West Loop.

  • Ravinia gives voice to passion of Adams' 'The Other Mary'

    September 8, 2013

    Ravinia saved the best for (nearly) last.

  • Composer birthdays are cause for celebration

    September 5, 2013

    To the surprise of absolutely no one, Chicago's fall classical music season will be dominated by the year's big composer anniversaries: the birthday bicentennials of composers Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, and the centenary of Benjamin Britten. The most essential of these commemorative events are to be found below. And listeners whose musical tastes extend beyond the birthday boys will find plenty of other fare worth checking out amid the autumn bounty.

  • For Nicholas Phan, song singing is as much a crusade as an art form

    September 5, 2013

    Chicago has not exactly built a reputation for being a world-class hub of art song performance and study. But this fall could bring about a sea change, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Nicholas Phan and friends.

  • Noteworthy releases in a bounteous season

    September 4, 2013

    Here is a preview of some of the more important and/or highly anticipated new classical recordings scheduled for release this fall, arranged by label.

  • Opera impresario Lotfi Mansouri dead at 84

    September 3, 2013

    Lotfi Mansouri, the Iranian-born opera company director who ran the San Francisco Opera and Toronto's Canadian Opera Company where he pioneered the use of supertitles in performances, died Aug. 30 at his home in San Francisco. He was 84. His death was the result of complications from pancreatic cancer, according to a statement released by the San Francisco Opera.

  • Two Chicago choral groups announce their schedules

    September 3, 2013

    Two Chicago professional choral ensembles have announced their 2013-14 seasons.

  • John Adams takes biblical Passion drama into 21st century

    September 3, 2013

    Ravinia has come full circle with the John Adams oratorios.

  • Lang's 'Little Match Girl Passion' affecting in its local premiere

    August 27, 2013

    As its summer season draws to a close, Ravinia is stepping out of its commercial comfort zone long enough to introduce its public to two important recent works by living American composers. Each happens to be a modern passion play and each is receiving its Midwest premiere.

  • In rustic Door County, classical music provides its own allure

    August 27, 2013

    FISH CREEK, Wisc. – Chicago visitors planning a summer getaway to Door County – the scenic sliver of land separating the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan – have more to indulge their cravings than taking in the galleries and shops, cycling the backroads, kayaking the lakes, hiking the trails and sampling the fish boils.

  • Review: Grant Park orchestra, chorus shine in festival finale

    August 17, 2013

    The final program of this year's Grant Park Music Festival contained two big works from opposite ends of the 20th century that looked to be strange bedfellows but actually complemented one other in unexpected ways. Each received appreciative attention from principal conductor Carlos Kalmar and his ever-amazing Grant Park Orchestra.

  • Ravinia sets 2013-14 Bennett Gordon lineup

    August 15, 2013

    With 14 concerts still remaining in its summer Bennett Gordon Hall series, Ravinia has gone ahead and announced the schedule for the series’ continuation in fall, winter and spring of 2013-14.

  • Review: Ravinia institute's silver anniversary produces some vocal gold

    August 13, 2013

    A signal milestone like the 25th anniversary of Ravinia's internationally known summer conservatory, the Steans Music Institute, by rights could not pass without new music lending cachet to the celebration. And so, earlier this year, the festival commissioned seven art songs and an instrumental chamber work from some prominent American composers, to be performed by Steans fellows during the current institute session.

  • Santa Fe Opera's ultra-safe 'Oscar' deifies Wilde more than it defines him

    August 13, 2013

    SANTA FE, N.M. – It's hard to believe no composer – until now – has based an opera on the life of Oscar Wilde, who was just the sort of famous, larger-than-life figure the art form adores.

  • DiDonato, Graham corner the diva market in Santa Fe Opera season

    August 9, 2013

    SANTA FE – The Santa Fe Opera's summer festival seasons attract opera lovers from all parts of the globe, as much for the varied repertory and top-level performances as the spectacular natural setting: a mountaintop amphitheater with open sides and a partially enclosed stage affording breathtaking views of high-desert sunsets over the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico.

  • Ravinia previews CSO 2014 residency

    August 7, 2013

    With one more week remaining in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2013 residency at Ravinia, the festival has gone ahead and released selected program and artist details for next year’s CSO tour of duty at its summer retreat. The residency will run July 8-Aug. 17 and comprise 20 concerts over a six-week period.

  • A clarion voice propels forceful 'Aida' at Ravinia

    August 4, 2013

    Before Riccardo Muti rolls out his heavy Verdi artillery in early fall to honor the composer's bicentennial, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its summer landlord, James Conlon, mounted a 21-gun salute of their own with a concert performance of Verdi's "Aida" Saturday night at Ravinia.

  • Recent classical CDs include a bounty of fresh new sounds, voices

    July 30, 2013

    Recent months have brought a bumper crop of new recordings of unusual 20th and 21st century classical works for chamber ensembles. The composers range from established figures to promising unknowns of the younger generation. It should come as no surprise that it's the small, feisty independent labels that are bringing us this bounty, as opposed to the majors with their fixation on big names and endless retreads of standard repertory.

  • Lyric's Sound of Music announces supporting cast members

    July 29, 2013

    Even though Lyric Opera has yet to cast the starring roles in its new production of “The Sound of Music,” it is announcing the names of two supporting singers and key members of the creative team that will mount the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical here next spring.

  • Showy return to Lang Lang's launching pad

    July 28, 2013

    In the 14 years that separate his Ravinia debut and his return to the festival over the weekend, Lang Lang has evolved from wunderkind to institution.

  • Review: Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu returns to Grant Park in style

    July 27, 2013

    A goodly part of the Grant Park Music Festival's mission statement has to do with providing debuts for talented young conductors and soloists who are kicking up buzz outside Chicago and whose developing careers can only benefit from this level of exposure.

  • Stratford exec to become Lyric's marketing director

    July 26, 2013

    Lyric Opera has named Lisa Middleton, director of marketing for Canada’s Stratford Festival since 2002, as its director of marketing, effective Oct. 15. She will oversee Lyric’s marketing, communications and box-office operations.

  • Conlon explores 'exiled' composers in Ravinia chamber concert

    July 26, 2013

    Even as Ravinia continues to relegate "Breaking the Silence" – James Conlon's valuable exploration of music banned by the Nazis and largely forgotten after the fall of the Third Reich – to a kind of limbo, the music director continues to find ways to integrate into the festival repertory some of the silenced and/or generally neglected music that interests him.

  • CSO reups with Ravinia through 2018

    July 24, 2013

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and the Ravinia Festival Association announced Thursday that they have signed a five-year contract extending the summer residency of the orchestra through summer 2018.

  • Ravinia's Steans Institute at 25: teaching musical wisdom

    July 23, 2013

    If you were to poke your head into a couple of practice studios in Ravinia's John D. Harza Building on a recent July morning, you would have witnessed a veritable United Nations of young musicians, all of them hard at work.

  • CSO offers live streaming of Muti's Verdi Requiem

    July 22, 2013

    Just because the special performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem music director Riccardo Muti is conducting with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on Oct. 10 --- the exact date of the Italian composer's birth 200 years ago -- has been sold out for weeks doesn't mean the rest of the world cannot hear it at the same time Orchestra Hall does.

  • Lyric Opera to present kid-friendly 'Barber'

    July 22, 2013

    Following up on the sell-out success of its family-oriented “Popcorn & Pasquale” last season, Lyric Opera will present “The Family Barber,” a show for youngsters ages 5-10 and their elders, March 22 at the Civic Opera House.

  • Takacs cancels Ravinia concerts because of illness

    July 21, 2013

    The celebrated Takacs Quartet has bowed out of its Aug. 5-6 engagement at Ravinia. One of the quartet members recently underwent minor surgery and the recovery is taking longer than anticipated, according to a Ravinia spokesman.

  • Review: Sultry skies or no, Swiss conductor excels in Grant Park debut

    July 20, 2013

    It's difficult enough for a first-time conductor at the Grant Park Music Festival to make a positive impression under the normal challenges that bedevil alfresco music-making at Millennium Park. But when you add merciless heat and withering humidity to the mix, you've got an even steeper grade few newcomers are prepared to scale successfully.

  • COT names Fogel board president

    July 18, 2013

  • Review: Violinist Vengerov returns to Ravinia with a great Britten

    July 18, 2013

    Beyond the big composer anniversaries of Verdi, Wagner and Benjamin Britten everybody is celebrating this year, Ravinia is honoring a performer anniversary of particular significance to the festival.

  • Britten at 100: Celebrating a great British composer

    July 16, 2013

    While much of the classical music world is immersed in honoring the bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner, another composer anniversary of signal importance, the 100th birthday of Benjamin Britten, is jostling for attention this year.

  • Review: Grant Park's Inca trek weathers chopper invasion

    July 13, 2013

    Miguel Harth-Bedoya served as both the able conductor and enlightening tour guide for Friday night's unusual Grant Park Music Festival concert at Millennium Park, a lively and colorful multimedia journey down the Inca Trail.

  • Review: CSO begins Ravinia residency with Beethoven

    July 12, 2013

    The combo pack of Beethoven and beautiful weather has guaranteed popular success for many a Chicago Symphony Orchestra opening night at Ravinia. And so it was again on Thursday when the orchestra presented the first concert of its six-week summer residency to a park packed with happily submissive humanity.

  • Brooklyn Rider in Ravinia debut

    July 11, 2013

    Brooklyn Rider: For its Ravinia debut, the new-era string quartet sandwiches recent works by second violinist Colin Jacobsen between quartets by Mozart and Bartok. 8 p.m. Tuesday in Martin Theatre, Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake -Cook roads, Highland Park; $40-$60, $10 lawn; 847-266-5100,

  • Juilliard Quartet to play musical chairs at Ravinia

    July 9, 2013

    The renowned Juilliard String Quartet has been a mainstay at Ravinia for decades, and regular festival goers have come to regard its musicians almost as if they were members of the family.

  • CSO's Muti receives arts awards in Italy

    July 8, 2013

    There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of prestigious prizes Riccardo Muti’s native Italy is prepared to bestow on him.

  • Review: Tzigane scores impressive Grant Park Orchestra debut

    July 6, 2013

    With few exceptions, Ravinia has not gone out of its way to provide exposure for young conductors who are making their way up the professional ladder and who have yet to become household names. Fortunately the Grant Park Music Festival and its principal conductor, Carlos Kalmar, have long considered doing so essential to the festival's artistic mission. And many a podium career has been advanced as a result.

  • Review: Ravinia premiere underscores poignancy of Bernstein's 'Songfest'

    July 5, 2013

    The world premiere of a new chamber version of Leonard Bernstein's "Songfest" Thursday afternoon in Ravinia's Martin Theatre brought memories flooding back of the muggy Ravinia night in July, 28 years ago, when the composer led the local premiere of his score in its original orchestral guise.

  • Matthias Goerne's Ravinia recital a feast for lieder lovers

    July 2, 2013

    Fortunate we are that Ravinia has been the summer recital venue of choice for the intense, commanding German baritone Matthias Goerne on five separate occasions since his festival debut in 2001. Connoisseurs of German lieder still speak with awe about the three Schubert song cycles he and pianist Christoph Eschenbach presented there four years ago. But each appearance has been an artistic event to remember.

  • Folks Operetta's rare Lehar summons more frowns than smiles

    July 1, 2013

    Franz Lehar's operetta "The Land of Smiles" has not received a Chicago production in more than 25 years and the bittersweet romantic confection has not fared much better anywhere else in this country during that time.

  • CSO's first foray to western suburbs a success despite outdoor sound system

    June 30, 2013

    Now that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is about to renew an annual summer relationship with North Shore audiences that goes back nearly 80 years, and now that the CSO has established a continuing presence on Chicago's South Side, it sees only natural that the institution should want to extend its reach to new audiences and potential patrons in the western suburbs as well.

  • Baroque Band sets 2013-14 schedule

    June 27, 2013

    Chicago’s period-instrument orchestra Baroque Band has announced dates, artists and programming for its seventh season, 2013-14.

  • Mathieson Mayer to leave Lyric after 25 years

    June 26, 2013

    Lyric Opera of Chicago is about to lose one of the most valued veterans of its administrative team.

  • Blanchard's world premiere opera is a champ in its own right

    June 25, 2013

    ST. LOUIS – The Opera Theatre of St. Louis has done more on behalf of contemporary and 20th century opera than perhaps any other major U.S. regional company, having presented a remarkable 23 world premieres in the course of its 38-year history. Unfortunately, very few of these works has had the artistic legs needed to travel beyond the Gateway Arch, let alone enter the domestic repertory.

  • Muti concludes CSO season in triumphant blaze of choral sound

    June 21, 2013

    Riccardo Muti has never needed the excuse of a big anniversary year to celebrate the music of his beloved Giuseppe Verdi. Yet so plentiful are the opportunities to go the extra distance in this bicentennial year that you can hardly blame the Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director for seizing them with relish, even a certain pride of ownership.

  • Orchestra Hall to get 'massive' acoustical revamp, says Muti

    June 20, 2013

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association plans to redouble its efforts to fix the hall's problematic acoustics, CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti said in an interview with the Tribune this week.

  • Daniel Hope gives Vivaldi new life at Ravinia

    June 18, 2013

    On the face of it, it seems like a goofy idea: Recomposing Vivaldi's greatest hit – the ubiquitous "Four Seasons" – music almost everybody knows from its use in countless TV commercials and movie soundtracks, on elevators and over the phone while one is being kept on hold.

  • Lyric Opera signs off on busiest season ever

    June 17, 2013

    Lyric Opera's unprecedented effort this past season to make itself more generally relevant and to provide what general director Anthony Freud calls “a broader, deeper cultural service to more people around the city” appears to have paid off.

  • Grant Park Orchestra, Chorus take delayed season opener in stride

    June 16, 2013

    One of the things that makes going to outdoor concerts at the Grant Park Music Festival such a grand adventure is that you can never predict who will emerge victorious from the eternal struggle between mankind, mother nature and music.

  • Riccardo Muti takes on German, Austrian masters, con brio

    June 14, 2013

    A Riccardo Muti residency at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is never entirely about making music. In this second of three season-ending weeks, for example, the music director has gone from directing a Verdi chorus at a riverfront park in Chinatown, to fielding questions from subscribers at a public Q&A. On Saturday he is to deliver the commencement address for the DePaul University School of Music which is awarding him an honorary doctorate.

  • Elgin Symphony Orchestra picks Andrew Grams as music director

    June 12, 2013

    The Elgin Symphony Orchestra has named Andrew Grams, former assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, as its next music director.

  • Grant Park chorus master readies singers for a busy festival summer

    June 11, 2013

    Having rolled out some pretty heavy artillery to mark the 50th anniversary of the Grant Park Chorus and other musical milestones last summer, what will the 2013 Grant Park Music Festival do for an encore?

  • Dale Clevenger makes last appearance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    June 11, 2013

    Nineteen days ahead of his official retirement date, Dale Clevenger appeared for the last time as principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Tuesday night’s subscription concert in Orchestra Hall. Riccardo Muti conducted.

  • Sinfonietta premieres evocations of Chicago's dynamic skyline, in sound

    June 10, 2013

    If the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can celebrate the power of rivers, why can't the Chicago Sinfonietta do the same on behalf of cities? The parallel may not have occured to Mei-Ann Chen when she was planning her season finale with the sinfonietta, but at the very least it gave the music director several musical novelties with which to conclude the orchestra's 25th season.

  • Bruno Bartoletti, longtime Lyric Opera director, dies

    June 9, 2013

    Bruno Bartoletti, the widely admired Italian conductor who served as artistic director of Lyric Opera of Chicago throughout a close association with the company that lasted a half-century, died early Sunday in a hospital in Florence, Italy, after a long illness.

  • Riccardo Muti launches season-ending CSO residency with a blast of Scriabin

    June 7, 2013

    Just when you thought it was safe to dip your toe into summer music, along comes Riccardo Muti to say, "Not so fast." The winter classical music season has, insofar as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is concerned, three more weeks to run.

  • From freaky to frisky, MusicNOW finale makes contrasting styles cohere

    June 4, 2013

    The openness of MusicNOW series curators Mason Bates and Anna Clyne to divergent styles of contemporary composition can cut both ways. On some occasions it can produce stylistic hodgepodges that add up to less than the sum of their components. On other occasions it can yield programs whose contrasting elements set off each other's distinctive musical virtues in ways that are bracing to both ear and mind.

  • A festive summer for classical music lovers

    June 4, 2013

    It's that time of year again, time to check out some of the more artistically enterprising U.S. summer classical music festivals. Whether it's a world premiere, an unusual opera, an orchestral or chamber rarity, or a gifted young artist seeking exposure in the off-season, it's all out there for the music-loving traveler. As always, programs and dates are subject to change and should be verified. Happy alfresco listening!

  • Jaap Van Zweden once again proves his musical mettle with CSO

    May 31, 2013

    Jaap van Zweden's progression from pinch-hitter to honored guest to esteemed member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's extended family has been one of the most encouraging developments Chicago music has seen in years.

  • Chicago summer classical music preview: Ravinia, 'Aida' and Carlos Kalmar

    May 30, 2013

    This is one summer when local classical music lovers — and this means you — may want to skip the usual out-of-town cultural expeditions, avoid the hassles of air and car travel, and simply take advantage of the listening bounty that awaits right here on the city's doorstep. A great many concerts cost nothing, including the Grant Park Music Festival, the weekly Rush Hour Concerts at St. James Cathedral in downtown Chicago and the Rush Hour-produced Make Music Chicago, a daylong, citywide celebration June 21.

  • Make Music Chicago festival back for a third year

    May 28, 2013

    More than 25 public spaces throughout the city will resound with live music of all genres when the free, daylong Make Music Chicago festival returns for a third year on June 21, the first day of summer.

  • Celebrating a century of 'The Rite of Spring'

    May 28, 2013

    One hundred years ago on Wednesday, the score that revolutionized music in the 20th century had its premiere at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris. The first performance of the ballet "Le Sacre du Printemps" – or "The Rite of Spring," as most of us know it – provoked the most notorious riot in the history of music.

  • Orchestra gives music director Rachleff a fond farewell

    May 26, 2013

    This is a time of transition at several suburban orchestras, two of which, the Chicago Philharmonic and Lake Forest Symphony, bade farewell to their music directors this month. The philharmonic did so at the season's final concert Friday night at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston, where Larry Rachleff led his valedictory program after having served a remarkably successful 23 years as music director.

  • Carlos Miguel Prieto takes CSO audience on a supercharged travelogue

    May 24, 2013

    Enough tremors were unleashed by a huge battery of percussion instruments at Thursday night's Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert that management may wish to have the auditorium walls checked for cracks once the dust from the weekend concerts has settled.

  • Chicago classical music ensemble Dal Niente gets fierce

    May 21, 2013

    A couple of years ago Ensemble Dal Niente trumpeted its mission as presenting "the fiercest music of recent decades." The Chicago-based group of super-musicians still focuses on championing, commissioning and performing some of the most uncompromising scores being written today, but lately has been fine-tuning its modus operandi to bring a wider spectrum of listeners into the fold.

  • CSO and Mena invite audience to go with the flow

    May 17, 2013

    Any coherence to be found in the weekend Chicago Symphony Orchestra program is thematic, not musical. Which is to say that the four works led by guest conductor Juanjo Mena Thursday night at Symphony Center represented unrelated styles and periods but all in some way underscored aspects of nature and culture that are central to the CSO's ongoing "Rivers" festival.

  • Duke Ellington rarity to launch Chicago Opera Theater season

    May 17, 2013

    With one opera (Verdi’s “Giovanna d’Arco”) wrapping up its 2013 season in September, Chicago Opera Theater has announced its schedule for 2014.

  • Boston Symphony Orchestra names Andris Nelsons music director

    May 16, 2013

    After a more than two-year search for a successor to James Levine, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Thursday that Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons will become its next music director, in 2014.

  • Camerata Chicago a small orchestra with big dreams

    May 15, 2013

    Camerata Chicago is the best local chamber orchestra you've probably never heard of.

  • Civic Orchestra doesn't need a conductor to play inspired Beethoven

    May 14, 2013

    The performance did not take place quite in the manner Yo-Yo Ma had envisioned for the young members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. But that was much less important than the skills the newly empowered players took away from the experience. And the musical results from the audience's standpoint were little short of amazing.

  • Chen honors long-neglected composer

    May 10, 2013

    A conductor who understands the challenges female musicians of color face is leading the first Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances this week of a work by a black woman composer who faced similar obstacles during her lifetime.

  • Chamber society offers eloquent homage to Britten's centennial

    May 9, 2013

    The flood tide of Benjamin Britten performances honoring the great British composer's centenary has barely begun. Both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Chamber Musicians are planning major observances beginning in the fall, and others are certain to follow as we approach Britten's actual 100th birthday in November.

  • Ambitious Beethoven fest wants listeners to feel the 'love'

    May 8, 2013

    Ludwig van Beethoven was forever pushing boundaries, and the annual Chicago festival that bears the composer's name continues to do the same, even more so than in the past.

  • CSO series explores connections between nature and culture

    May 7, 2013

    For ages, mankind has been fascinated by rivers, not simply as natural resources and avenues of commercial conveyance, but also as symbols, metaphors and ideas. Countless artists, composers, writers and thinkers have pondered the significance of these wondrous bodies of water and how they impact on culture, society, geopolitics and, closer to our own time, the very future of our planet.

  • CSO presents mixed bag of French, Spanish fare

    May 3, 2013

    After devoting the three weeks of Riccardo Muti's spring residency mainly to core Austro-German repertory, the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra probably were in need of a change of pace. And so, for that matter, were audience members.

  • Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner join blackbirds for a new music romp at MCA

    May 1, 2013

    When people think of the cultural cross-pollination that goes on between Chicago and New York, interchanges in theater and the visual arts are what usually spring to mind. But exchanges among contemporary classical music performers seem to be taking place with increasing frequency, to the great benefit of audiences as well as the musicians themselves in both cities.

  • For pianist Osorio, passion drives a life in music

    April 30, 2013

    Jorge Federico Osorio knows firsthand the power of classical music to move young minds and hearts.

  • Marathon finish for masterful Evgeny Kissin

    April 29, 2013

    The last several days have brought a feast of major-league piano playing to Symphony Center, courtesy of keyboard virtuosos born 30 years apart.

  • Famed cellist Janos Starker dead at 88

    April 28, 2013

    Janos Starker, one of the greatest cellists of all time, also a distinguished teacher and prolific recording artist, who played principal cello in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for five seasons during the 1950s, died Sunday in Bloomington, Ind., where he had been a professor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music since 1958.

  • 'Oklahoma!' comes sweepin' into Lyric Opera

    April 26, 2013

    If ever a musical theater work deserved its exclamation point, it's “Oklahoma!”

  • Riccardo Muti bids CSO arrivederci with rewarding program

    April 26, 2013

    Famed virtuoso pianists of different generations are passing through the hallowed halls of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this week, giving the box office a jolt of starpower beyond what Riccardo Muti already has been providing.

  • Riccardo Muti: Illnesses behind him, CSO director wraps up spring residency

    April 23, 2013

    "Any donkey can conduct, but to make music is difficult," Riccardo Muti told the young members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago at an open rehearsal last week at Symphony Center.

  • COT's 'Maria de Buenos Aires' a dark tango with history

    April 21, 2013

    With acts of terror again splashed across front pages, the sheer immediacy of Chicago Opera Theater's production of "Maria de Buenos Aires" hits you like a blow to the solar plexus. The show, which opened Saturday at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, may at times be uncomfortable to watch but is nevertheless essential viewing.

  • Muti warms the Classical contours of Mozart, Beethoven with CSO

    April 19, 2013

    Every so often Riccardo Muti likes to remind the local concert public that his Chicago Symphony Orchestra isn't just a superb instrument for the big Romantic, late Romantic and 20th century repertory. It plays Classical-era works with the same dedication, proficiency and, you might say, pride of ownership. The program of Mozart and Beethoven symphonies the maestro conducted Thursday night at Symphony Center served as another of those reminders.

  • 'Maria de Buenos Aires' at Chicago Opera Theater: Tango opera spills blood instead of cliches

    April 16, 2013

    Andreas Mitisek is only half-kidding when he says he's lost count as to exactly how many hats he will be sporting for the production of "Maria de Buenos Aires" his Chicago Opera Theater will open Saturday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

  • A German orchestra rich in tradition honors a native son, Johannes Brahms

    April 15, 2013

    An ordinary orchestra bringing an all-Brahms program to town might elicit no more than a yawn from your average jaded concertgoer. But when that orchestra happens to be the extraordinary Staatskapelle Dresden, your pulse quickens in anticipation.

  • Famed CSO trumpeter Adolph Herseth dead at 91

    April 15, 2013

    Famed CSO trumpet player Adolph Herseth, by general consent the most respected and influential orchestral trumpeter of his generation, has died. He was 91.

  • Muti's Bach Mass with CSO full of awe but could stand more vigor

    April 13, 2013

    Orchestra Hall is likely to be heavily populated for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts of the next several nights, not only because they bring the return of Riccardo Muti after a six-month absence, but the music director's first Chicago performances of J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor, a masterpiece new to his local repertory.

  • CSO's Muti upbeat on his health: 'I am fine, I still walk'

    April 10, 2013

    Addressing the media at the beginning of the news conference the Chicago Symphony Orchestra held Wednesday, Music Director Riccardo Muti said: "Everybody here in Chicago asks me, 'Are you well?'"

  • Bach Week at 40: Festival thrives by keeping the musical mix fresh

    April 9, 2013

    One sign that spring has really and truly sprung hereabouts is the annual Bach Week Festival.

  • 'To Cross the Face of the Moon': Lyric's fusion of opera, mariachi brings crowd to its feet ★★★ 1/2

    April 8, 2013

    Nothing like the exuberant dazzle of mariachi to explode operatic stereotypes.

  • Now an honored guest rather than sub, Sakari Oramo returns to CSO podium

    April 5, 2013

    Sakari Oramo is another guest conductor originally brought in as a substitute for Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts imperiled by accidents or illnesses suffered by Riccardo Muti. The Finnish maestro made so positive an impression at his hastily arranged debut here in February 2011 that management would have been remiss in not inviting him back through the front door. And that was precisely what happened Thursday night at Symphony Center.

  • Anthony de Mare sends in the Sondheim, reimagined for piano

    April 2, 2013

    Stephen Sondheim's music has been an essential part of Anthony de Mare's life as far back as he can remember. "I always felt there was something very unique, almost kind of transcendent, about his shows," the American pianist says today. "There was always this wonderful message in each one."

  • Uchida's Mozart is beautiful, is that enough?

    March 29, 2013

    Opinion about Mitsuko Uchida's Mozart playing is likely to remain divided among piano connoisseurs, but the concert public as a whole continues to adore her. The latest of the pianist's more or less annual appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in an all-Mozart program this weekend at Symphony Center, should reinforce arguments on both sides.

  • Spiritual fervor of B Minor Mass undimmed by muddy acoustics

    March 28, 2013

    Holy Week has brought a rare confluence of Bachian bounty to the Chicago area, with all three of J.S. Bach's surviving sacred choral masterpieces — the St. Matthew and St. John Passions, and the Mass in B minor — turning up in performance within days of one other.

  • Though not blindingly original, 'Streetcar' music surprises

    March 27, 2013

    “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Andre Previn's adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, has come in for such scathing notices from some critics following its premiere by the San Francisco Opera in 1998 that one approached the Chicago premiere Tuesday night at the Civic Opera House, where it received a semi-staged production under auspices of Lyric Opera, expecting the worst.

  • Mariachi the heart and soul of Lyric's 'Cruzar'

    March 26, 2013

    The combination of opera and mariachi is not as unlikely as one might think. Both art forms, in the view of Lyric Opera General Director Anthony Freud, tell human stories about love and loss, family and country. Beyond that, said Freud, "mariachi is a unique, joyful, sorrowful cocktail that has the emotional immediacy of Puccini and a sound world as distinct as that of any great composer."

  • There's Russian soul aplenty in Sokhiev's CSO debut

    March 22, 2013

    That the name Tugan Sokhiev has yet to ring a bell with most American concertgoers is perfectly understandable: Until his podium debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Thursday night at Symphony Center, he had yet to wield a baton in front of any major U.S. symphony orchestra.

  • From hip-hop to Mozart, Sinfonietta readies eclectic fare for 2013-14 season

    March 19, 2013

    The Chicago Sinfonietta, an orchestra long committed to promoting diversity and inclusiveness on both sides of the footlights, is taking its venturesome programming up a notch beginning next season.

  • Renee Fleming brings 'A Streetcar Named Desire' to Lyric Opera

    March 15, 2013

    Divine destiny — or is it the shade of Tennessee Williams? — is bringing Renee Fleming and Blanche DuBois together on the same stage, at the same time, at Lyric Opera.

  • The 'other' Barenboim returns in triumph with CSO

    March 15, 2013

    The musical logic behind the program presented by Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend at Symphony Center seems clear enough.

  • Netrebko wins ovations in Lyric debut as Mimi in 'La Boheme'

    March 10, 2013

    Lyric Opera audiences have long taken it as an article of faith that second casts are by no means inferior to first casts, and, indeed, often prove their superior. The return of Lyric's engaging production of Puccini's "La Boheme," Saturday night at the Civic Opera House, nicely illustrated the point. The celebrated Russian soprano Anna Netrebko was making her much-anticipated Lyric debut as the consumptive heroine, Mimi, singing opposite the Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja as her lover, the poet Rodolfo.

  • For CSO guest maestro Macelaru, it's once more unto the Boulez breach

    March 9, 2013

    This has been a terrible winter as far as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's senior conductors are concerned, with both music director Riccardo Muti and, now, conductor emeritus Pierre Boulez, benched because of health issues.

  • Ravinia Festival puts 'Passion' into summer classical lineup

    March 7, 2013

    The Ravinia Festival has announced the remainder of its programming for the 2013 summer season. The schedule comprises more than 120 classical, popular, jazz and dance events, presented almost nightly from June 6 to Sept. 15 at Ravinia Park in Highland Park.

  • Opera superstar Anna Netrebko is conquering the world, theater by theater

    March 5, 2013

    Anna Netrebko seems genuinely unfazed by the stardom that has made her a charismatic figure to hundreds of thousands of opera lovers worldwide, not to mention even greater numbers of ordinary folks who devour articles about her in the popular press and no doubt care more about her taste for shopping and high-end fashion than her high C's. She's her generation's answer to Luciano Pavarotti, an impresario's dream come true.

  • Music of the Baroque announces its 43rd season

    March 5, 2013

    Haydn's “The Creation,” Bach's Magnificat and Mozart's “Coronation” Mass are among the highlights of Music of the Baroque's 2013-14 season, the Chicago group's 43rd.

  • A woman's fantasies and fears take wing in 'Amelia'

    March 3, 2013

    It's heartening to see area college and university music programs taking up the slack with respect to significant recent American operas Chicago's professional opera companies have ignored.

  • Yo-Yo Ma proves his virtuoso mettle in Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto, with CSO

    March 1, 2013

    Through his now frequent visits to the city as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's creative consultant, Yo-Yo Ma has made himself the poster child for elevating the role of culture in people's everyday lives and advancing their opportunities to experience classical music in their communities.

  • Van Cliburn dead: American piano virtuoso was Cold War hero, cultural icon

    February 28, 2013

    Van Cliburn, the immensely talented American piano virtuoso with the down-home charm and big romantic style, whose gold-medal win at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 at the height of the Cold War made him a cultural icon for decades to come, died Wednesday at his home in Ft. Worth.

  • Russian soprano scores stunning local debut in Lyric's 'Rigoletto' ★★★

    February 26, 2013

    What is it about "Rigoletto" that causes tin-eared stage directors to paint graffiti all over the opera? The new production that opened last month at the Metropolitan Opera, which wags promptly dubbed the "Rat Pack 'Rigoletto,' " updates the story from 16th century Mantua, Italy, to a Las Vegas casino of the 1960s run by Frank Sinatra. Not so long ago, Lyric Opera turned the work into a revisionist screed about 19th century male subjugation of women that had nothing to do with the masterpiece Giuseppe Verdi wrote.

  • Changes afoot for Chicago Philharmonic and Lake Forest Symphony

    February 25, 2013

    Two respected music directors of suburban symphony orchestras have announced they will be stepping down from their posts at the end of the current season.

  • NU 'Grapes of Wrath' is justice delayed for composer Gordon

    February 25, 2013

    "The Grapes of Wrath," composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Michael Korie's operatic adaptation of John Steinbeck's sprawling 1939 novel about dispossessed Oklahoma sharecroppers during the Great Depression, has enjoyed a degree of instant success that is rare for an American opera. A host of professional opera companies and university opera programs across the nation already have embraced the work since its 2007 premiere by the Minnesota Opera.

  • Chicago Opera Theater steps through a Glass, darkly

    February 24, 2013

    Andreas Mitisek, the new general director at Chicago Opera Theater, is a man with a mission. He wants audience members to take a flyer on new and unexpected pieces of music theater that make them think, not just entertain them.

  • CSO concert performance of Wagner's 'Tristan' exciting if vocally uneven

    February 22, 2013

    Having gone without Richard Wagner's music for so long, Chicago suddenly has become Wagner Central.

  • James Conlon extends L.A. Opera tenure

    February 21, 2013

    Ravinia Festival music director James Conlon has extended his contract as music director of the Los Angeles Opera through the 2017-18 season, the company has announced. By that time the conductor will have been with the company for 11 seasons, a period that so far has marked significant artistic growth.

  • Dale Clevenger leaves impressive legacy at CSO

    February 21, 2013

    It could not have been easy for Dale Clevenger to face up to the question of how and when to step down as principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But it was time.

  • Dale Clevenger to leave Chicago Symphony Orchestra after 47 years

    February 19, 2013

    One of the world’s legendary brass players is leaving the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Dale Clevenger announced through the orchestra on Tuesday that he will be stepping down on June 30 from his position as principal French horn, a post he will have held for a remarkable 47 years.

  • New artistic chief charts daring new directions for Chicago Opera Theater

    February 19, 2013

    In contrast with the greatest hits programming Lyric Opera has announced for next season, the alternative opera schedule with which Chicago Opera Theater is inaugurating the Andreas Mitisek era, beginning this weekend, promises to be anything but safe and standard.

  • Baroque-style 'Dido' shows off Haymarket at its best

    February 17, 2013

    With no opera earlier than Mozart on next season's Lyric Opera schedule, and with the new regime at Chicago Opera Theater focusing on 20th century rarities, the Haymarket Opera Company has baroque opera all to itself, now and for the foreseeable future.

  • CSO gets back to business under Mark Elder, and a bracing Sibelius is the result

    February 17, 2013

    To Mark Elder falls the task of leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first subscription concerts back home at Symphony Center, following a Far East tour fraught with numerous misfortunes.

  • CSO's Stephen Williamson to take leave

    February 14, 2013

    Stephen Williamson, principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2011, will take a leave of absence from the CSO to hold down the same post with the New York Philharmonic for an unspecified number of weeks next season, effective in September.

  • Aretha Franklin to sing with the CSO

    February 14, 2013

    Singing legend Aretha Franklin will perform the annual Corporate Night concert with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. May 20 in Symphony Center. Known around the world as the Queen of Soul, Franklin will join with musical director Fred Nelson III to present the 24th in a series of CSO fundraising events benefiting the orchestra's general operations and community engagement-music education programs.

  • Grant Park Music Festival summer season announced

    February 14, 2013

    Once again the Grant Park Music Festival is taking the lead among local summer festivals when it comes to presenting eclectic combinations of popular symphonic and choral fare and more adventuresome classical music programming. And it's all free.

  • Haymarket carves out authentic niche in baroque chamber opera

    February 12, 2013

    From its debut in 2011, the Haymarket Opera Company has thrived by putting on repertory of the sort no other Chicago group has investigated as thoroughly – unusual baroque chamber operas using period instruments and historically informed stage direction, movement and design. These intimate rarities have felt perfectly at home in Mayne Stage, a cabaret-style theater in the city's Rogers Park neighborhood that seats 230 and serves drinks during performances.

  • Lyric's take on 'Meistersinger' adheres to tradition

    February 10, 2013

    The stunt involving a fire-spitting stilt walker that went awry at last week's dress rehearsal for Lyric Opera's new production of "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" threatened to steal the thunder from the show itself. That it did not was a tribute to the strength of casting and superiority of the performances that marked the welcome return of Wagner's richly human comedy of manners to the local repertory after 14 years, Friday night at the Civic Opera House.

  • Lyric Opera of Chicago season full of greatest hits

    February 7, 2013

    Lyric Opera's 2013-14 season will be given over almost entirely to bread-and-butter repertory designed, at least in part, to ensure the company's sizable ticket sales don't flag in a still-weakened economy.

  • Muti to salute Verdi and Schubert for upcoming Chicago Symphony Orchestra season

    February 6, 2013

    With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra heading home later this week from its tour of the Far East, the CSO Association is wasting no time releasing the programs and artists to be presented during the fall season at Symphony Center.

  • Fleming, Graham charm Lyric audience with rare duo recital

    January 25, 2013

    Lyric Opera patrons attending the duo recital by soprano Renee Fleming and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham Thursday night at the Civic Opera House probably did not expect they would be getting a guided tour of belle epoque Paris along with an exquisitely performed program of French songs.

  • Lyric Opera brings fresh approach to Puccini's 'La Boheme'

    January 23, 2013

    Without fanfare, Lyric Opera has been systematically retiring elderly opera productions that have outlived their usefulness or have simply worn out with age. A prime candidate for junking was the 1972 Pier Luigi Pizzi production of Puccini's "La Boheme," a kind of corporate apartment house that has seen countless occupants, worthy and not so worthy, over the years. Recent revivals made that dingy and faded show no easier to live with.

  • Jane Glover takes stock of her fruitful decade with Music of the Baroque

    January 22, 2013

    Chicago music has long gone gaga over the Brits, and not simply because the city's two leading opera companies are, or were, run by thoroughly capable Englishmen – Anthony Freud at Lyric Opera and Brian Dickie, who retired last year after 13 seasons as general director of Chicago Opera Theater.

  • Riccardo Muti 'resting comfortably' after surgery

    January 21, 2013

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti is expected to be released Tuesday from a hospital in Milan, Italy, where on Monday morning he successfully underwent a hernia operation.

  • CSO's Muti to undergo surgery for hernia

    January 20, 2013

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has filled the last remaining gap in the podium roster of its upcoming Far East tour, a void created by music director Riccardo Muti’s cancellation of his appearances because of illness.

  • With Riccardo Muti out, guest conductors fill the CSO breach

    January 18, 2013

    Riccardo Muti just can’t seem to catch a break.

  • Muti out, Maazel in for CSO's Asia tour

    January 18, 2013

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti has been diagnosed with an inguinal hernia that will force him to bow out of the orchestra’s entire tour of the Far East, Jan. 25-Feb. 7.

  • 'La Boheme' star Ana Maria Martinez is no diva offstage

    January 15, 2013

    The saga of how Ana Maria Martinez resolved her career conflicts, shed her inhibitions and wound up as one of the most sought-after operatic artists of her generation might make an interesting little made-for-TV drama.

  • From Contempo, the first salvo of a season-long salute to U of C composers

    January 13, 2013

    For its debut in the Performance Hall of the multidisciplinary Reva and David Logan Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday night, the new music collective Contempo presented the first of several programs this season made up of works by University of Chicago composers, past and present.

  • Radu Lupu's eloquent Beethoven comforts CSO crowd in Muti's absence

    January 11, 2013

    Once again indulgence is being asked of Chicago Symphony Orchestra patrons as Riccardo Muti bows out of subscription concerts because of illness and has to relinquish the podium to others. Once again a substitute conductor is brought in at the last minute and manages to save the day. Haven't we heard this refrain before?

  • CSO's Muti to miss remaining winter dates

    January 9, 2013

    Chicago winters have proved to be singularly unlucky for Riccardo Muti.

  • Flu sidelines Muti from CSO concerts

    January 8, 2013

    In a development reminiscent of previous health problems that have curtailed Riccardo Muti's conducting engagements in the city, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director has come down with a case of the flu that has forced him to withdraw from this week's CSO subscription concerts at Symphony Center.

  • Want a respite from winter's icy blasts? Try seven nights of chamber music

    January 8, 2013

    There's always room for more chamber music, even in a metropolitan area such as Chicago that's already blessed with a plethora of chamber groups and performances throughout the season. Despite that abundance, Northwestern University's Winter Chamber Music Festival rates special attention.

  • Lyric, Second City lovingly skewer opera

    January 6, 2013

    The first and most obvious question to be asked of "The Second City Guide to the Opera" was: Was it funny enough to meet the expectations surrounding this unlikely match-up of Chicago's world-renowned comedy troupe and just as renowned opera company, Lyric Opera?

  • CSO hosts Youth in Music fest

    January 6, 2013

    Before Riccardo Muti takes his Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a 13-day, 9-concert tour of the Far East in late January and early February, he will engage in a pursuit close to his heart: the musical education of youth.

  • Winter classical music preview: Diverse events, from 'Boheme' to Boulez

    January 4, 2013

    The period from the new year through the end of March invariably includes some of the most highly anticipated events of Chicago's classical music season. Here are 10 such events, listed in chronological order:

  • George Lepauw makes Beethoven belong to Chicago

    December 27, 2012

    George Lepauw lives his life according to a precept he picked up as a very young child studying piano with Aida Barenboim, mother of former CSO music director Daniel Barenboim, in his native Paris.

  • Glorious sounds soar above season of economic gloom

    December 27, 2012

    No musical news story in 2012 drew greater media attention, inside and outside Chicago, than the strike that silenced the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 48 hours in late September. The cliffhanger was resolved just in time for the CSO to fulfill a scheduled tour.

  • World ends with a jazzy bang in Rouse concerto for CSO's Martin

    December 22, 2012

    Contrary to supposed Mayan prophesy, the world did not end on Friday. The end actually arrived at about 8:40 the previous evening, at Orchestra Hall, where the mythic Norse god Heimdall sounded his trumpet, summoning the heroes to the field for one final battle marking Armageddon. Buh-bye, world of gods and men.

  • Heartfelt 'Messiah' upholds Apollo Chorus' venerable holiday tradition

    December 18, 2012

    In times of national distress and reflection, performances of Handel's "Messiah" seem more necessary than ever.

  • Lyric names new chorus master

    December 14, 2012

    Michael Black is returning to Lyric Opera as the company’s new chorus master. The Australian, who served as interim chorus master for the 2011-12 season, will resume duties here as of the 2013-14 season.

  • CSO goes Bach to the future, with luminous new work at its center

    December 14, 2012

    The less-is-more principle doesn't always bring consistently high results when it's applied at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but it provides a refreshing change of musical perspective for this weekend's subscription concerts at Symphony Center.

  • Sinfonietta reaches out to city's Latino community with new concert series

    December 11, 2012

    The Chicago Sinfonietta, long a national model for promoting diversity and inclusiveness in orchestral performance, is reaching out to whet the cultural appetite of the city's Latino community with a promising new series of concerts in various venues on the city's Southwest Side, beginning this week.

  • Lyric's darkly funny 'Hansel' good enough to eat

    December 10, 2012

    Food, glorious food.

  • Classical CDs full of aural pleasures

    December 9, 2012

    My 10 selections are not the "best" recordings of 2012, only ones that represent some of the recordings that have given me particular pleasure this past year.

  • Thinking inside the classical box

    December 9, 2012

    From the bounty of boxed sets released during the past year, here are six classical albums sure to please gift givers and receivers alike:

  • Vasily Petrenko proves he's the real deal in debut with CSO

    December 7, 2012

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra does a thorough job bringing to local attention gifted young conductors who are creating a stir in the podium world. The latest to make his debut on the subscription series is Vasily Petrenko, the 36-year-old chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and soon-to-be chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Ward Stare returns to Lyric Opera, with a baton

    December 4, 2012

    You've heard of pianist-conductors, violinist-conductors, even the occasional cellist-conductor. But how many conductors can you name who began their careers playing first trombone with a major American opera company while still in their teens?

  • Lyric names interim chorus director

    December 3, 2012

    Lyric Opera has appointed Ian Robertson, chorus director of the San Francisco Opera, guest chorus master for the remainder of the season while the company continues to search for a permanent chorus director.

  • Lyric's kid-friendly 'Pasquale' delights grownups too

    December 3, 2012

    "Don Pasquale" isn't exactly the first show that springs to mind when you're looking for an opera to hook young children on opera. Look a little closer, however, and you realize Donizetti's tuneful score is very kid-friendly. And what sitcom-weaned child isn't prepared to giggle whenever grownups behave foolishly?

  • British conductor Mark Elder, soloist bring early Christmas presents to CSO

    November 30, 2012

    The great gift Mark Elder brings to Chicago Symphony Orchestra audiences at holiday time is that of appealing symphonic repertory, delivered in such a way as to make the whole seem even finer than its components. Such a program greeted a curiously underpopulated Orchestra Hall on Thursday night.

  • Lang Lang, 'Aida' on Ravinia 2013 lineup

    November 28, 2012

    The Ravinia Festival has announced several more classical music attractions for its 2013 summer season in Highland Park.

  • In new film, actor Fry ponders his conflicted love affair with Wagner's music

    November 27, 2012

    Stephen Fry was all of 11 when his grandfather played him a recording of Richard Wagner's "Tannhauser" Overture. For the boy who grew up to become a distinguished British actor on stage, in television and film ("Wilde," "Gosford Park"), it proved to be a life-changing experience, releasing forces deep within, he says, such as he had not experienced before or since.

  • Lyric's mirthful 'Pasquale' defies the odds and succeeds

    November 26, 2012

    Countless movie comedies and TV shows have spun variations on the age-old theme of what happens when men of a certain age take much-younger brides, that we almost forget Gaetano Donizetti was there long before.

  • John Cage fest at NU: Collages of noises and sounds so quiet you could hear keys drop

    November 20, 2012

    "I have nothing to say, and I am saying it."

  • Illinois Phil begins promising new chapter in its history

    November 16, 2012

    This is a time of transition for several of Chicago's suburban orchestras. The Elgin Symphony Orchestra has been patiently auditioning a host of guest conductors to find a replacement for Robert Hanson, who resigned in June, 2011 after 37 years as music director. And the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, which is based in Des Plaines, is saying goodbye to its music director, Paul Vermel, at the end of the present season, his 19th as its artistic chief.

  • Young Russian virtuoso's flying fingers wow crowd at CSO debut

    November 15, 2012

    Apart from the bicentennials of Wagner and Verdi, no major anniversary in classical music is getting wider play this season than the centennial of "The Rite of Spring," which received its notorious premiere in Paris on May 29, 1913.

  • Honoring John Cage, a composer who threw out all the rules

    November 13, 2012

    John Cage has been dead 20 years, but his music, his revolutionary ideas about art in general and his enormous influence on composers, musicians, artists, dancers and contemporary aesthetic attitudes, live on.

  • Lyric Opera's 'Werther' staging sometimes off the rails, but singing is gloriously on track

    November 12, 2012

    Jules Massenet's "Werther" is a staple of the European opera house repertory, but its Goethe-inspired protagonist remains an infrequent visitor to American shores. Despite the fact that the opera received its American premiere in Chicago, in 1894, Lyric Opera has ventured it only twice, the last time 34 years ago, when Alfredo Kraus reprised the super-stylish portrayal he introduced at the company premiere in 1971.

  • Britannia rules as CSO performs Britten and Walton works

    November 9, 2012

    During the same season in which the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is making a big bicentenary splash on behalf of Richard Wagner, attention must be paid a couple of other composer anniversaries. Thursday night's subscription program, ably conducted by Charles Dutoit, reminded the audience of two worthy British honorees from the 20th century, Benjamin Britten and William Walton.

  • With Danzmayr at the helm, Illinois Philharmonic embarks on a new era

    November 6, 2012

    Don't look now, but Chicago music is about to experience an Austrian invasion.

  • CSO clarinetist Clark Brody dies at age 98

    November 6, 2012

    Clark Brody, who served as principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under four music directors, from his hiring in 1951 until his retirement in 1978, died Saturday, at 98. He and his wife Donna lived in Evanston.

  • Lyric creative team talks 'Bel Canto,' Ars Viva tackles elusive Sibelius symphony

    November 5, 2012

    No opera company faces a more formidable task than commissioning a new opera, assembling the forces needed to bring it to fruition and nursing it through the long and sometimes painful process leading up to the premiere. But such undertakings are vital if opera houses are not to become museums mired in the musty past.

  • Lyric announces 'Oklahoma!' cast

    November 4, 2012

    Lyric Opera has announced principal castings for the new production of "Oklahoma!" that will mark the company premiere of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in May.

  • Riccardo Muti ill, cancels Vienna concert appearances

    November 2, 2012

    Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has canceled his scheduled appearances at the helm of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra this weekend because of illness, according to a statement issued by the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna.

  • Bychkov's worthy Mahler Third marred by poor CSO brass playing

    November 2, 2012

    In the 45 years since then-music director Jean Martinon introduced Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3 to Chicago Symphony Orchestra audiences, this grandiose, sprawling masterpiece has turned up with remarkable frequency.

  • Fabio Biondi, Europa Galante an ideal match for Logan Center's new hall

    October 31, 2012

    Much the same resourcefulness and quickness of mind that characterize the Italian period-instrument ensemble Europa Galante's performances of Baroque music evidently carry over into the way violinist Fabio Biondi's vibrant group conducts its business affairs.

  • Colorful Lindberg opus gives MusicNOW a strong series opener

    October 30, 2012

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been working hard to convince audiences, particularly younger audiences, that if they miss any program in the CSO's contemporary music series, MusicNOW, they will miss something important in their lives. To judge from the large and enthusiastic crowd that turned out for the season's first MusicNOW concert on Monday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, that effort is paying off.

  • Haitink's CSO 'Missa Solemnis' achieves eloquence through directness

    October 26, 2012

    Whatever the reason behind Bernard Haitink's mysterious cancellation of his Chicago Symphony Orchestra appearances the previous week, the beloved Dutch conductor was back in commanding form Thursday night at Symphony Center to make good on his scheduled performance of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis."

  • Reissued recordings add luster to Georg Solti's legacy

    October 23, 2012

    Georg Solti, whose 100th birthday the classical music world is celebrating this month, rose to international fame as a recording artist well before he became widely known in the concert hall and opera house. Indeed, the former music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra reigned, along with Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, as the supreme monarch of classical recording of his era, the last legendary conductor to set down virtually his entire career on disc.

  • Opera meets mariachi in latest Lyric venture

    October 22, 2012

    You've heard of rock operas, tango operas, crossover operas.

  • For Georg Solti, a centenary salute on a global scale

    October 22, 2012

    Georg Solti loved birthday parties, especially his own. One can only imagine how thrilled he would have been to witness the outpouring of affection from the international gathering of colleagues who presented a special concert in his honor at Symphony Center on Sunday, the exact day of his 100th birthday.

  • Bella Voce soars, Baroque Band stumbles

    October 21, 2012

    If ever a piece of music could be said to embody the aesthetic predilections of a performing arts group, it's Frank Ferko's "Stabat Mater." This modern choral masterpiece owes its life and wide circulation to the Chicago chamber choir Bella Voce, which, in its previous incarnation as His Majestie's Clerkes, commissioned the work, went on to premiere it in 1999 and made the first recording.

  • Vanska unleashes CSO's inner fire in Brahms program

    October 19, 2012

    Bernard Haitink's unexplained cancellation of the first week of his scheduled two-week podium engagement with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra left management little time in which to secure a world-class replacement. But that's what it came up with for the subscription concert Thursday night at Symphony Center.

  • Lyric casts welcome light on a dark Verdi drama

    October 16, 2012

    "Simon Boccanegra," which returned to the Lyric Opera repertory Monday night after an absence of 17 years, is a shadowy tragedy many opera goers respect but few really love, except perhaps for card-carrying Verdi connoisseurs.

  • Perahia's inspired playing makes standard piano fare anything but

    October 15, 2012

    Throughout his long career, Murray Perahia has stuck closely to the advice of the late, great tenor Peter Pears: Play only the music you love, otherwise how can you convince the listener to love it too?

  • Silk Road treats Orchestra Hall to high-energy show

    October 14, 2012

    Yo-Yo Ma is back in town, spreading his gospel of social betterment through musical performance, outreach, education and cross-cultural dialogue. While in Chicago, the cellist and Chicago Symphony Orchestra creative consultant is holding to his usual, dervish pace. He took time out from his enlightened crusade long enough to join with other members of his Silk Road Ensemble for a concert Saturday night at Orchestra Hall.

  • Mexico City provides festive finale to CSO, Muti tour

    October 11, 2012

    — It's an edifice harking to a more opulent era, an inspired fusion of Old World elegance and New World vitality. Even the name is grand: Palacio de Bellas Artes.

  • 'Elektra' a bloody good show, electrifying opener for Lyric

    October 9, 2012

    OPERA REVIEW: 'Elektra' 3-1/2 stars; through Oct. 30 at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; $32-$239; 312-332-2244, ext. 5600;

  • CSO players encourage students: 'Try it yourself'

    October 9, 2012

    GUANAJUATO, Mexico — Oto Carrillo asked, in Spanish, if anyone in the assembly of some 800 teenage students knew the name of the composer whose music he and colleagues from the Chicago Symphony Orchestrahad just played.

  • CSO battles hot, dry hall but basks in warmth of audience

    October 9, 2012

    GUANAJUATO, Mexico — I joked with Riccardo Muti after the concert here Monday night that if he had won one more award before the Chicago Symphony Orchestraconcludes its tour on Wednesday, the CSO will have to add another trunk to its 15 tons of cargo.

  • Chicago Symphony arrives in Mexico

    October 8, 2012

    — The Old World charm is palpable almost the minute you arrive in this 16th Century Spanish colonial city tucked in the mountains of central Mexico.

  • CSO concludes Carnegie Hall trifecta, leaving cheers in its wake

    October 6, 2012

    NEW YORK – With the final blasts of brass and percussion at the end of Respighi's "Feste Romane" rattling Carnegie Hall to its foundation, Riccardo Muti ended the American leg of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's October tour in triumph Friday night.

  • Mason Bates crowd-pleaser gives second CSO concert at Carnegie an 'Energy' boost

    October 5, 2012

    NEW YORK – Riccardo Muti has observed that touring exposes the weaknesses of a mediocre orchestra while bringing out what makes a superior orchestra sound superior. The maestro’s axiom certainly has proven true in the case of his Chicago Symphony Orchestra as it approaches the end of its three-concert residency at Carnegie Hall here this week.

  • Curtain rises on Lyric Opera with love, thrills and a food fight

    October 4, 2012

    There truly will be something for everyone at Lyric Opera of Chicago this season. Let me count the ways.

  • Muti, CSO open tour with lusty 'Carmina Burana' at Carnegie Hall

    October 4, 2012

    NEW YORK – It wasn't the tumultuous ovation that went on into the night following the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first Carnegie Hall concert under then-music director Georg Solti back in 1970, but it was loud and it was instantaneous.

  • Strike in rearview mirror as CSO starts New York tour

    October 3, 2012

    NEW YORK — While much of the nation was focused on the first presidential debate Wednesday night, there was no debate among Manhattan's classical music cognoscenti over who the most prestigious musical visitors of the week were, and are.

  • Vocal crisis behind her, Christine Goerke takes on the murderous (in all senses) role of Elektra at Lyric

    October 2, 2012

    Christine Goerke is flying high in the opera world, but not so long ago a catastrophic vocal crisis threatened to send the world she knew crashing down around her.

  • Claire Chase forges a new arts model

    October 1, 2012

    Claire Chase learned she was one of the recipients of this year's MacArthur Awards last week during a sound check for a solo performance that the 34-year-old flutist gave in Guangzhou, China.

  • Jubilation, relief mingle at no-frills CSO gala

    September 30, 2012

    "Stay close to this orchestra," Riccardo Muti enjoined the audience at the end of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Symphony Ball gala on Saturday night, "because it represents Chicago to the world."

  • Novel programming sets Northbrook Symphony apart from the pack

    September 25, 2012

    It has become a running joke at Northbrook Symphony Orchestra concerts. Before each performance, Lawrence Rapchak comes out on stage and tells the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be our best concert ever."

  • CSO strike also has national overtone

    September 23, 2012

    No sooner had a weeklong strike by Chicago public school teachers been settled than a walkout by musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra over the weekend again focused national attention on labor matters in the city.

  • Before strike, it's 'singing in the rain' at Millennium Park for CSO

    September 22, 2012

    Undeterred by drenching rains, a crowd of several thousand began milling around the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park hours before the start of the free Chicago Symphony Orchestraconcert Friday evening. Nobody knew at the time, of course, that within 24 hours the orchestra musicians would be on strike, having failed to reach agreement with management on a new labor contract to replace the one that expired Sept. 16. But on Friday the only dark clouds were the ones over the park.

  • For CSO opener, Muti explores some unfamiliar corners of the repertory

    September 21, 2012

    There was good news to come out of Symphony Center on Thursday night. Riccardo Muti was back to open the new season, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians are playing while talking. All's right with the world, or at least the CSO's corner of it.

  • Dame Myra Hess classical concert series celebrates 35th birthday

    September 18, 2012

    It's heartening when a musical organization that's central to the city emerges from a fiscal crisis in stronger shape than before. Such an organization is the weekly Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts series, the most valuable freebie in downtown Chicago music this side of the Grant Park Music Festival.

  • Dickie era at COT ends with minimalist Mozart

    September 16, 2012

    Sitting through three different productions of "The Magic Flute" ("Die Zauberflote") in Chicago within only 10 months could leave even the most devout Mozartian with a bad case of musical indigestion.

  • Lyric Opera to audition ensemble singers, dancers for 'Oklahoma!'

    September 13, 2012

    Lyric Opera will hold auditions next month for ensemble singers and singing dancers for its May production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” Auditions are scheduled to take place Oct. 8-16 at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive. Candidates should enter at the stage door on Washington Street and Wacker Drive.

  • Richly stocked Beethoven Fest is city's best-kept cultural secret, so far

    September 11, 2012

    Although the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth won't arrive until 2020, George Lepauw isn't about to wait eight years to celebrate the German composer's titanic musical achievement, or the profound influence his music has exerted on the evolution of Western classical music.

  • Divas Goerke, Wagner knock Lyric concert out of the park

    September 9, 2012

    Under general director Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera is going all out this season to persuade the uninitiated that opera can entertain as well as edify. Several out-of-the-box events have been announced beyond the mainstage season, including the company's first collaboration with The Second City comedy troupe, in January.

  • 10 classic reasons to look forward to fall

    September 7, 2012

    You would never guess the economy is still struggling, given the quantity, quality and diversity of classical music events being offered in the Chicago area between now and the end of the year. Following are 10 major classical events you won't want to miss between now and Thanksgiving.

  • Taking opera places it has never been

    September 7, 2012

    "People in Chicago no longer will have to deal with an opera company director with an English accent," jokes Andreas Mitisek. "Now all they will have to adjust to is dealing with one with an Austrian accent!"

  • Fall music preview: Getting a sound classical education

    September 6, 2012

  • Savoring the delights of Handel's Arcadian glade

    September 2, 2012

    Now that Chicago Opera Theater appears to have given up on Baroque opera, and Lyric Opera is taking a pass on anything Baroque next season, the field is wide open. Fortunately we have the enterprising early music enthusiasts of the Haymarket Opera Company filling the breach with their charming production of Handel's rarely heard "Clori, Tirsi e Fileno." The work had its belated Chicago premiere over the weekend at the Mayne Stage in the city's Rogers Park neighborhood.

  • Mother Nature makes local premiere of 'Inuksuit' a soggy walk in the park

    August 28, 2012

    So far I have had trouble connecting with the minimal-mystical music of the Alaskan composer John Luther Adams, although colleagues I respect, such as New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, have heaped rapturous praise on it.

  • Message to symphony orchestras in troubled times: Think positive

    August 22, 2012

    Fifty years ago, a group of 30 musicians from a dozen different orchestras in the U.S. and Canada met at Roosevelt University here to discuss how they could save their beleaguered profession.

  • Even in twilight of Te Kanawa's career, soprano remains a regal presence

    August 15, 2012

    For many classical artists, the road to retirement is paved with lingering glances back to past glories, calculated to stir sentimental memories in their fans. The beloved operatic and concert singer Kiri Te Kanawa has been plying that route since giving what she announced would be her operatic swan song, in her touchstone role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier," in Cologne, Germany, in 2009.

  • Two pianists sub for Denis Matsuev at Ravinia

    July 27, 2012

    Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has canceled his concert appearances Sunday and Monday at Ravinia because of illness. Replacing him will be pianists Vladimir Feltsman and Jon Kimura Parker.

  • Lyric Opera to work with Second City for first time next season

    July 18, 2012

    The very notion of Lyric Opera and The Second City performing together, even for a one-night stand, would strike most folks in Chicago as slightly absurd. The city's venerable impresario of grand opera making beautiful music with the town's famous factory of funny?

  • Mellon Foundation gives Lyric $2 million grant

    July 11, 2012

    Lyric Opera of Chicago announced Wednesday it has received a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support expanded community engagement and new artistic initiatives.

  • CSO eyes adding concerts in DuPage County

    June 7, 2012

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has confirmed a report in Crain’s Chicago Business that it is in serious discussions with DuPage County officials about possibly presenting a permanent, multi-week concert season there, pitched to west suburban patrons.

  • Big-top operetta that time forgot will receive its Chicago premiere

    June 5, 2012

    As the young daughter of an internationally celebrated composer, Yvonne Kalman delighted in eavesdropping on conversations her father, Emmerich Kalman, had with other famed European emigres as they gathered around plates of freshly prepared Hungarian delicacies in the kitchen of the Kalmans' New York home, before the platters of food were brought out to the other party guests.

  • With multiple chamber partners, pianist Jeremy Denk proves his versatility

    June 4, 2012

    So omnivorous is Jeremy Denk's musical appetite, that one can easily imagine how confined this searching American pianist must sometimes feel when forced to box his wide-ranging sympathies within the narrow bounds of a conventional piano recital.

  • CSO conductor Riccardo Muti gets American Academy prize

    May 31, 2012

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti has added yet another honor to his long list of awards.

  • Lyric Opera draws on fiscal reserves to break even for year

    May 14, 2012

    Compared with just about every other company in the business, Lyric Opera of Chicago continues to ride above the economic turbulence that is buffeting so many of the nation's other not-for-profit performing arts organizations. Not soaring, but riding.

  • CSO, Muti announce tours of Far East, Mexico in 2012-13

    May 8, 2012

    No sooner have the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti unpacked their bags from their successful tour of Russia and Italylast month than they are making plans for two more foreign trips together next season.

  • Yo-Yo Ma, CSO give fresh account of Dvorak

    May 7, 2012

    The recent triumphs of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Russia and Italy were all, I'm sure, well earned. But the roaring reception that greeted the CSO musicians Saturday night at the first subscription concert since their latest overseas tour reminded one that any accolades an orchestra may garner around the world begin with its achievements back home.

  • Lyric sets world premiere of new opera based on Ann Patchett novel for 2015-16 season

    February 28, 2012

    Lyric Opera of Chicago has shied away from commissioning any new operas over the last decade, at a time when other major American opera companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Los Angeles Opera have actively cultivated new stage works from inception to premiere.

  • Lyric Opera goes to nine productions for upcoming season

    January 17, 2012

    Chicago opera lovers impatient to learn what innovations Anthony Freud will put into place now that he is well and truly ensconced as general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, will have to cool their heels.


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