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John von Rhein has been the classical music critic of The Chicago Tribune since 1977. During that time, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has ...

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John von Rhein

John von Rhein

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 A grand night to hear CSO, Tchaikovsky under the stars

A grand night to hear CSO, Tchaikovsky under the stars

September 20, 2014

Since Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have room in their packed schedule to present only one free concert a year for the general public, let every concert be as enjoyably done as their latest gift to the city and its citizens, given Friday evening at Millennium Park.

  • Muti begins CSO season with strong Beethoven 9th

    September 19, 2014

    Perhaps no work in the standard symphonic canon carries so lofty a sense of occasion as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

  • Muti's clout, prestige should make for a stable transition at the CSO

    September 16, 2014

    Riccardo Muti's towering authority, musical and otherwise, should reassure members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's extended family that stability and continuity will be maintained while management undergoes significant transition.

  • OPERA REVIEW: 'Macbeth' at the Harris Theater ★★★½

    September 14, 2014

    As far as most operatic buffs are concerned, there is only one musical setting of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" – the revised 1865 version of Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece.

  • Chicago's moving to the myriad beats of Latino music

    September 9, 2014

    What exactly is meant by the term "Latino music"?

  • Halcyon night, mixed vocal yield, at Lyric Opera's Millennium Park concert

    September 8, 2014

    Millennium Park, the city's lakefront garden of cultural delights, has for its 10 years proved to be an ideal summer place for Chicago's heavyweight classical organizations to drum up box office for their fall seasons while giving something back to the community as a free gift of music.

  • Fall bounty in new classical recordings

    September 5, 2014

    Here are some of the more noteworthy new classical recordings scheduled for release this fall:

  • Choral director seeks to expand yet stay true

    September 5, 2014

    With choral groups of every size, description and professional status vying for attention in and around Chicago, standing out from the pack often depends on how distinctive a niche each is able to carve out for itself.

  • Classical favorites and firsts for fall

    September 5, 2014

    There will be no power vacuum at Symphony Center this fall, once Riccardo Muti has entered the building. All eyes and ears will be on the big boss as he begins his fifth season as music director, his authority undimmed. Muti leads off his fall CSO residency with a free popular-appeal concert at Millennium Park that launches his seasonlong Tchaikovsky symphony cycle, a survey that will interface with a Muti-led Scriabin cycle later in the season. After three weeks of subscription concerts under his direction, the maestro and his musicians will depart on a three-week European tour in October and November, which is scheduled to begin in Warsaw and end in Vienna.

  • Can CSO's new chief fill Rutter's big shoes?

    September 3, 2014

    The appointment of Jeff Alexander as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, which the Tribune reported Tuesday and the CSOA confirmed following a board meeting Wednesday morning, surprised even veteran observers of the American symphony orchestra scene.

  • Classical recording label Cedille marks 25 years

    September 2, 2014

    For a quarter of a century, the feisty little indie label Cedille Records has stood out as a plucky survivor in a domestic classical recording business that has been buffeted by a slumping economy, vanishing retail stores, the inexorable advance of pop music and other factors.

  • Ravinia sets 2014-15 recital lineup

    September 2, 2014

    With several more concerts yet to go this week in Ravinia’s summer $10 BGH Classics recital series, the festival has gone ahead and announced the dozen classical, popular and jazz concerts that make up the series’ fall, winter and spring extension.

  • Ravinia music director James Conlon extends contract through 2015

    August 26, 2014

    Outgoing music director James Conlon and Ravinia are not rushing into any parting of the ways.

  • Lake Forest Symphony sets 2014-15 season

    August 20, 2014

    The Lake Forest Symphony under newly appointed music director Vladimir Kulenovic has announced the programs for its 2014-15 season. Kulenovic will conduct four of the five pairs of concerts.

  • Newberry goes for Baroque in 2014-15

    August 20, 2014

    The Newberry Consort, Chicago’s flagship early music ensemble, will present three programs for its 2014-15 season.

  • 'Don Giovanni' launches Ravinia's Mozart mini-fest in high style

    August 15, 2014

    Can you have too much Mozart?

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    August 14, 2014

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra: James Conlon conducts a second and final semistaged concert performance of Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni," with Christopher Maltman, Tamara Wilson, Aga Mikolaj, Ailyn Perez and Saimir Pirgu heading the cast. David Lefkowich directs. 1 p.m. Saturday, Martin Theatre, Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake-Cook roads, Highland Park; $90, $10 lawn; 847-266-5100, ravinia.org

  • Grant Park premiere honors composer's longtime love affair with Chicago

    August 12, 2014

    Unless I miss my guess, no American city has done more to advance a composer's international reputation than Chicago has done for William Bolcom in recent decades.

  • Heavenly video lights up premiere at Grant Park

    August 10, 2014

    It's been interesting to compare the ways in which Chicago's two major classical music festivals are combining video and film with live symphonic music this summer.

  • Classical Corner

    August 7, 2014

    Chicago Sinfonietta: Music director Mei-Ann Chen previews the orchestra's 2014-15 season in its open-air debut in the western suburbs. 8 p.m. Saturday, Cantigny Park, 1 S 151 Winfield Road, Wheaton; $22-$24; 630-260-8162, cantigny.org or chicagosinfonietta.org

  • A diva in the twilight of her career inspires new song cycle, at Ravinia

    August 5, 2014

    Although composer Jake Heggie has focused the bulk of his creative energies on opera over the last couple of decades, between major projects he has returned again and again to his musical heart and soul – telling stories through song.

  • Racette shines in her first Salome, with CSO, at Ravinia

    August 3, 2014

    Richard Strauss knew he was asking the impossible when he created the amoral antiheroine of his third opera, "Salome." The ideal Salome, he wrote, should be "a 16-year-old princess with the voice of an Isolde."

  • CSO's Martha Gilmer leaving to take San Diego post

    August 1, 2014

    The San Diego Symphony's announcement Thursday that it has hired Martha Gilmer, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's vice president for artistic planning and audience development, as its new chief executive officer, steps up the pressure on the CSO Association to fill not one but two important administrative posts before very many more months elapse.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    July 31, 2014

    Chicago Folks Operetta: Anthony Barrese conducts the American premiere of Paul Abraham's "Ball at the Savoy," a jazzy, tuneful, singing-and-dancing confection from 1932 Berlin, about the revenge of a clever wife on her philandering hubby. Through Sunday, Stage 773 Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.; $35-$40, $30 for seniors; 773-327-5252, chicagofolksoperetta.org

  • Strauss highlights Proms concerts in London

    July 29, 2014

    LONDON – The BBC Proms proclaims itself as the greatest classical music festival in the world and does so with the confidence of knowing it's got the artistic goods to back up its sweeping claim.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    July 24, 2014

    Chicago Folks Operetta: Anthony Barrese conducts the American premiere of Paul Abraham's "Ball at the Savoy," a jazzy, tuneful, singing-and-dancing confection from Weimar-era Berlin, about the revenge of a clever wife on her philandering hubby. Through Aug. 3, Stage 773 Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.; $35-$40, $30 for seniors; 773-327-5252, chicagofolksoperetta.org

  • Folks Operetta has a 'Ball' with musical rarity

    July 20, 2014

    OPERETTA REVIEW: 'Ball at the Savoy' at Stage 773 Theatre ★★★ ... Ravinia music director James Conlon's "Breaking the Silence" crusade to rescue musical works by Jewish composers suppressed by the Nazis has found its light-opera counterpart at Chicago Folks Operetta.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    July 17, 2014

    Chicago Folks Operetta: The troupe presents the American premiere of Paul Abraham's "Ball at the Savoy," a jazzy, tuneful, singing-and-dancing confection from Weimar-era Berlin, about the revenge of a clever wife on her philandering hubby. Anthony Barrese conducts and Kristen Barrett directs. Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Aug. 3, Stage 773 Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.; $35-$40, $30 for seniors; 773-327-5252, chicagofolksoperetta.org

  • Concert review: Susanna Malkki conducts the CSO at Ravinia

    July 17, 2014

    Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki is so greatly gifted that her presence on major podiums around the world proves the utter irrelevance of questions concerning gender.

  • Ars Viva sets 2014-15 concert season

    July 15, 2014

    The Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2014-15 concert season at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. All five Sunday afternoon programs will be conducted by music director Alan Heatherington.

  • The complete Bach solo organ works, in 10 concerts

    July 15, 2014

    The more than 200 solo organ works that bracket the prodigious composing career of Johann Sebastian Bach have long been every organist's Bible. Rare is the organ recital that doesn't include such favorites as the mighty "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" or the "Little" Fugue.

  • Concert review: Krzysztof Urbanski leads CSO in Ravinia debut

    July 11, 2014

    Ravinia is not the first place one would expect to find an important young conductor making his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But that's what happened Thursday night when a rising young podium star from Poland named Krzysztof Urbanski led the ensemble for the first time and did a most impressive job of it. Too bad a larger crowd did not turn out to witness the event.

  • Millennium Park's impact on summer classical scene

    July 10, 2014

    The impact of Millennium Park and its gleaming, otherworldly outdoor concert hall, Pritzker Pavilion, on the area's summer classical music scene cannot be overstated.

  • James Galway's Ravinia concert a tuneful crowd-pleaser

    July 9, 2014

    The Ravinia Festival is obliging its North Shore constituency with several weeks of broadly appealing orchestral fare to kick off the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's annual residency. Few soloists in the classical realm are better equipped to provide value in that musical department, while pulling in a raft of customers, than James Galway.

  • Beethoven Festival, CCM must rethink their mission to survive

    July 8, 2014

    While funding woes are the root of the problems recently afflicting two esteemed Chicago musical institutions, the Beethoven Festival and the Chicago Chamber Musicians (CCM), there's another way of looking at those problems.

  • Concert review: Gabriel Cabezas victorious in Grant Park debut

    July 3, 2014

    Gabriel Cabezas is the latest classical performer to be tested in the crucible of Chicago's weird summer weather, only to emerge victorious from the experience.

  • Classical Corner

    July 3, 2014

    Chanticleer: The ever-popular, all-male vocal ensemble returns to Ravinia for "She Said/He Said," a diverse program that spans the centuries from Victoria and Von Bingen to Eric Whitacre, Stacy Garrop, Cole Porter and Joni Mitchell. 7 p.m. Sunday, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake-Cook roads, Highland Park; $40-$60, $10 lawn; 847-266-5100, ravinia.org

  • PianoForte exit the latest blow to Beethoven Festival

    July 2, 2014

    The fortunes of Chicago's Beethoven Festival continue to crumble.

  • Reviews: Opera Theatre of St. Louis spring season

    July 1, 2014

    WEBSTER GROVES, MO. – These days, it seems that everything is an opera festival simply because the people who operate and sell a given enterprise say it is.

  • Lyric Opera reports banner year for ticket sales, revenue, fundraising

    June 30, 2014

    American opera producers such as New York City Opera (which suspended operations in October) and San Diego Opera (which in May rescinded a unanimous vote made by its board two months earlier to close the company) bemoan the difficulties of sustaining an expensive art form in dicey economic times.

  • No '14-'15 season for Chicago Chamber Musicians

    June 29, 2014

    The Chicago Chamber Musicians will discontinue artistic operations at the close of the organization's fiscal 2014 on Aug. 31 and will not present a 2014-15 season, the ensemble announced in a statement released over the weekend.

  • Chicago classical music recommendations

    June 26, 2014

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Cristian Macelaru leads a pair of popularly-priced classical concerts for family audiences in DuPage County. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, the program holds Mendelssohn's "Hebrides Overture," Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" and the Beethoven Seventh Symphony. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Macelaru will direct five of Brahms' "Hungarian Dances," Dvorak's "New World" Symphony and Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1, with Elena Urioste as soloist. $40; Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle; $45; 312-294-3000, cso.org

  • Deborah Rutter looks back at 11 years leading the CSO

    June 24, 2014

    On Monday, one month shy of serving 11 years as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, Deborah F. Rutter will step down from her position to take on another high-profile managerial post, that of president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington D.C.

  • 'Klinghoffer' cancellation hijacks Met's artistic cred

    June 23, 2014

    The cowardly decision the Metropolitan Opera announced last week to cancel its scheduled "Live in HD" transmission on Nov. 15 of its production of composer John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer" will deprive potentially tens of thousands of viewers in movie theaters around the world of the chance to see the controversial opera and make up their own minds about it.

  • Concert review: Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in season finale

    June 20, 2014

    Seldom has the Chicago Symphony Orchestra closed its season in such a jubilant mood as the one that gripped a packed Orchestra Hall on Thursday night.

  • Storm cuts short Grant Park concert

    June 19, 2014

    Call it the Grant Park concert that almost was. As in soggy, man, soggy.

  • Concert Review: Kalmar leads Grant Park Orchestra at the Auditorium

    June 14, 2014

    Along with the names of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart and other immortal composers inscribed on the golden proscenium arch framing the stage of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, you will find that of Hector Berlioz. Apparently the French Romantic's music was very much in fashion with Chicago audiences in 1889 when the Louis Sullivan-Dankmar Adler landmark building was completed. (The works of Brahms, Wagner and Schubert must not have been, since their names are conspicuously missing.)

  • Muti's return caps a banner day for the CSO

    June 13, 2014

    Now that Riccardo Muti is back tending to musical business, nobody need worry that end-of-season ennui will settle over the final weeks of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's subscription season.

  • CSO receives $32 million in foundation gifts, the largest in its history

    June 12, 2014

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced at its board meeting Thursday afternoon that two Chicago philanthropic institutions, the Zell Family Foundation and the Negaunee Foundation, have given the parent body of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra the largest gifts in its 123-year history -- $17 million from the Zell foundation and $15 million from Negaunee.

  • Lyric adds two world-premiere operas for 2015

    June 12, 2014

    Lyric Opera of Chicago will present the world premieres of two commissioned operas in 2015 as part of its Lyric Unlimited initiative to connect with a wider audience through the creation and performance of new works with broad appeal.

  • Nippy temps, but a warming opener for 80th Grant Park season

    June 12, 2014

    Time is most definitely out of joint locally when both the Grant Park and Ravinia festivals are up and running even though the Chicago Symphony Orchestra still has three more weeks of concerts before closing the books on its winter season.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    June 12, 2014

    Access Contemporary Music: Francesco Milioto leads the ensemble's season finale, which holds the Chicago premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis' "Goblin Market," along with works by Kernis, Eve Beglarian and Jenna Lyle. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.; $12-$20, $8 for seniors; 773-334-3650, acmusic.org

  • Von Stade to appear in COT's 2015 season

    June 11, 2014

    Chicago Opera Theater will present three Chicago premieres for its 2015 season at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park.

  • Lee Hyla, Northwestern composer, 1952-2014

    June 11, 2014

    Lee Hyla's friends, colleagues and students remember him as a supportive musical colleague and a composer with a profoundly individual voice.

  • U.S. summer festivals beckon to music-loving travelers

    June 10, 2014

    Once again classical music is casting its seductive spell over the American summer festival landscape. Following is a selective guide to some of the more unusual and intriguing festival offerings. Programs and dates are subject to change and should be verified.

  • REVIEW: 'The Elixir of Love' by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis

    June 9, 2014

    St. LOUIS – From all evidence, a growing number of Chicago opera buffs rely on the Opera Theatre of St. Louis to help satisfy their cravings during the spring-summer dry spell when neither Lyric Opera nor Chicago Opera Theater is open for business.

  • Concert review: Jaap van Zweden conducts the CSO in 'Truth' finale

    June 6, 2014

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's thoughtfully conceived and executed "Truth to Power" Festival is ending as it began, with major symphonic statements by Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten. Both scores play to Jaap van Zweden's knack for digging deep and pulling out musical "truths" that register like powerful temblors.

  • Classical Corner

    June 5, 2014

    Baroque Band: The New York-based Spanish violinist Joan Plana, concertmaster of the Chicago period-instrument ensemble, leads the season finale, a program of Italian Baroque concertos. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave.; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Grainger Ballroom, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $15-$35; 312-235-2368, baroqueband.org

  • Jane Lynch to host Lyric diamond gala

    June 4, 2014

    Jane Lynch is going operatic. The Dolton native and “Glee” star will emcee Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 60th anniversary concert, Nov. 1 at the Civic Opera House, the company announced Wednesday.

  • 2014 North Shore Chamber Music Festival preview

    June 3, 2014

    The North Shore Chamber Music Festival is a mom-and-pop Chicago classical operation that thinks big. Very big. Internationally big.

  • Lake Forest hires Kulenovic as conductor

    June 2, 2014

    The Lake Forest Symphony in north suburban Lake Forest on Monday named Vladimir Kulenovic as its new conductor, effective with the start of the 2014-15 season in September.

  • COT stages two political satires crafted under Nazis

    June 1, 2014

    The title the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has attached to its ongoing festival — "Truth to Power" — would apply far better to the contrasting political satires Chicago Opera Theater is staging for its spring season at the Merle Reskin Theatre of DePaul University, in the city's South Loop. Certainly it applies to the superior half of the pairing, Viktor Ullmann's "The Emperor of Atlantis."

  • Van Zweden, CSO probe below the cheery surface of Shostakovich

    May 31, 2014

    The 20th century orchestral program directed by Jaap van Zweden Thursday night at Symphony Center was the closest reflection yet of the theme of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's "Truth to Power" Festival. What we heard were potent examples of composers writing against expectations. Ambiguities lurked in unexpected corners.

  • Former Lyric chief to advise San Diego Opera

    May 30, 2014

    William Mason, the retired general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, has been named to the newly created position of artistic adviser to the embattled San Diego Opera, the company announced Friday.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    May 29, 2014

    Bellissima Opera: The Oak Park-based ensemble presents "Music of the Universe," a program ranging from Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater," to Schubert and Puccini, to a Hawaiian hula dance set to John Fogerty. 6 p.m. Sunday, Unity Temple, 875 Lake St., Oak Park; $30, $25 for seniors; 800-838-3006, universe2014.brownpapertickets.com

  • Jeanne Gang designing shell for Lyric Opera

    May 28, 2014

    In the latest collaboration between the renowned Chicago architect Jeanne Gang and a Chicago-area arts institution, Gang and her firm, Studio Gang Architects, have designed a new acoustical shell for Lyric Opera the company will use for its concert performances at the Civic Opera House beginning in the fall, Lyric announced Wednesday.

  • Inspirational pianist Irene Alexander dead at 94

    May 27, 2014

    Making music was Irene Alexander's inspiration as well as lifeline. It allowed her to forge ahead, say friends and family, through a string of misfortunes that would have felled an ordinary mortal.

  • Review: CSO launches 'Truth to Power' festival on powerful note

    May 23, 2014

    Audience members drawn to the festival of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Britten symphonic works the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is presenting over the next three weeks at Symphony Center are advised not to take the umbrella title, "Truth to Power," at face value.

  • Orchestras merge different cultures and genres, with mixed results

    May 13, 2014

    Concerts presented at Symphony Center over the last couple of evenings have found local symphony orchestras seeking to reinvigorate the classical concert hall experience, either by bringing popular culture into the mix, having different ethnic identities speak to each other on the program, or both.

  • New music mission continues for CSO's Bates, Clyne

    May 13, 2014

    It's a good time to catch up with Mason Bates and Anna Clyne. With new albums in release, multiple commissions in the works and performances here, there and everywhere, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's busy composers-in-residence aren't exactly standing around waiting for their phones to ring.

  • David McGill to leave CSO for teaching post at NU

    May 12, 2014

    David McGill, the esteemed principal bassoon of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the last 17 years, will resign his post in August to accept a fulltime teaching position at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

  • Concert review: Bernard Labadie conducts the CSO

    May 9, 2014

    Few of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's periodic forays into the era predating the standard symphonic repertory are as intelligently programmed and engagingly performed as the one Bernard Labadie is directing this weekend at Symphony Center.

  • A new opera takes shape behind scenes at the Lyric

    May 6, 2014

    No one expects the course of creating a brand-new opera to run absolutely smoothly, any more than the course of true love. Four hundred years of operatic history suggest it seldom does.

  • Concert review: von Dohnanyi conducts the CSO

    May 2, 2014

    This has been a banner week for Beethoven in downtown Chicago.

  • Review: David Finckel and Wu Han at Harris Theater

    April 30, 2014

    If nothing else, the large and enthusiastic audience that turned out for the final concert of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's third residency season, Tuesday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, was a rebuke to the doomsayers.

  • Fine Arts Society shows richness of Chinese culture

    April 29, 2014

    It began three decades ago as a small local competition designed to encourage Chinese music students to learn Chinese repertory along with the Western classical works their teachers were drumming into their young heads. Since then, it has grown into a much broader outreach effort to further a more general awareness of Chinese arts and culture.

  • Review: Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra at the Harris Theater

    April 28, 2014

    Now in his second season as music director, David Danzmayr is well on his way toward establishing his Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra as one of the leading suburban orchestras in the Chicago area. One way the gifted young Austrian conductor is achieving that is to offer programs that challenge his musicians even as they broaden the musical awareness of audience members. He scored a success on both fronts with the concert he led Saturday night.

  • Review: Mark Elder directs the CSO with flair

    April 25, 2014

    There are several reasons why Mark Elder has placed so high on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MVP list during the more than three decades he has been appearing here intermittently as a podium guest. One reason seems primary: The British conductor has a special flair for engaging the orchestra players, along with the audience, in programs that depart just enough from the prescribed playbook to make them feel fresh.

  • 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.

  • 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: 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • '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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • '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.

  • 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.

  • '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.

  • 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."

  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

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

    January 18, 2013

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

  • '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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Opera meets mariachi in latest Lyric venture

    October 22, 2012

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Fall music preview: Getting a sound classical education

    September 6, 2012

  • 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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