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September 2014
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CSO Will Roll Out with a Bang

Riccardo Muti on stage at Millennium Park, c. Todd Rosenberg

Riccardo Muti on stage at Millennium Park, c. Todd Rosenberg

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes a joyful noise this weekend, performing to capacity crowds. Riccardo Muti opens the concert season with four sold-out performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and a free Tchaikovsky concert at Millennium Park.

With orchestra and chorus proclaiming Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy at Thursday’s opening night, the orchestra sets the bar for things to come. Mr. Muti plans a season-wide focus on Tchaikovsky, a composer who delivers much in the way of orchestral fireworks (and usually a rapturous audience to go with them).

Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The CSO looks out at a capacity crowd during a 2012 concert, c. Todd Rosenberg

It was four years ago to the day (September 19, 2010) that an estimated 25,000 fans greeted Maestro Muti at his inaugural concert in Millennium Park, one of the largest crowds in the park’s history. On Friday, September 19th, Mr. Muti returns to the Pritzker Pavilion to conduct a free concert, with Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony as its centerpiece. He will also conduct Tchaikovsky’s 4th the following weekend at Symphony Center.


Bass-baritone Eric Owens in a WFMT Impromptu, c. Noel Morris

The CSO will be at Orchestra Hall for the remainder of the weekend, performing the Beethoven for the first subscription concerts of the season. The soloists include Chicago favorite, bass-baritone Eric Owens. Mr. Owens sang in Lyric Opera’s Rusalka last spring (as did mezzo Ekaterina Gubanova, also soloing with the CSO this weekend) and is scheduled to sing his first Wotan in Chicago in 2016. Mr. Owens is in the queue to star in Porgy and Bess this season.


Evanston native Matthew Polenzani is a last-minute substitution for the CSO’s opening concert

In a twist that may delight members of Thursday’s audience, Chicago favorite Matthew Polenzani will step in to sing the Beethoven 9. Mr. Muti had engaged Christopher Ventris, an acclaimed tenor in European opera houses, but he has withdrawn from the concerts due to illness. Mr. Polenzani grew up in Evanston and trained at Lyric’s Opera Center, and is a Lyric Opera regular. He is also a favorite of James Levine and sings regularly at the Metropolitan Opera.


Ekaterina Gubanova as the Foreign Princess with Brandon Jovanovich in Lyric Opera’s “Rusalka


Camilla Nylund takes a bow after “Salome” at Staatsoper Unter den Linden

The remaining three performances of the Beethoven 9 will feature New Jersey native William Burden, who will sing Capriccio in Chicago with Renée Fleming next month.


American tenor William Burden

The top half of the vocal quartet includes Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova and Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund. This will be Ms. Nylund’s only North American performance this year.

Thursday begins a three-week residency for CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti.



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