Chicago Symphony has new composer in residence

Chicago Symphony has new composer in residence


norman lebrecht

April 20, 2021

Jessie Montgomery has been chosen by Riccardo Muti as the orchestra’s next house composer.

She succeeds Missy Mazzoli.




  • anon says:

    checks all the boxes

  • I recall an interview in which Muti despaired at commissioning new music.

    He noted that although he had conducted “world premieres” every year for years, none of it had ever gained traction in the music world.

    It would be interesting to know how or if that track record is shaping his choices.

  • David J Hyslop says:

    She is a fine composer.

  • Sam Turner says:

    Montgomery is clearly very talented and a fast rising star. Good for the CSO. I am sure that many complained with Missy Mazzoli and Anna Clyne were selected as resident composers. It is surprising considering how active she is that she isn’t teaching anywhere. Some smart conservatory should add her to their faculty.

  • Brettermeier says:


    That voting mechanism (which I still don’t like, because it is far too easily fooled and thus open to exploitation. Which we have seen here already.) is way slower than before your design update. It also seems to mix things up. I had a thumb down vote on several of my posts, apparently by me. I have no problem criticizing myself in general. But these were some pretty awesome posts of mine that I never would have downvoted. 😉 Also, some posts (not mine) have negative votes, which shouldn’t even be possible (but I agree with the sentiment.)

    Anyone else seeing this?

    • Brettermeier says:

      “Also, some posts (not mine) have negative votes, which shouldn’t even be possible (but I agree with the sentiment.)”

      For example:

      • Brettermeier says:


        Clicking on “Booo!” on Sarah’s post also adds boos to TOPO. Reloading the page removes all my excessive boos and the first boo from Sarah and gives a boo to TOPO instead. Which I didn’t boo. In other words:


        For once, it seems to be true.

        I guess we know now how I ended up with me downvoting myself.

        Did I mention that I think this should not happen?

    • Brettermeier says:


      And I liked it that linked images were opened on this site and could be closed when done admiring them. Now clicking on an image link will open that link thus leaving SD. Maybe I’m the only one, but I would like to see this feature again in the future.

      Despite my criticism all the time, I prefer the new design, now that most of the kinks are ironed out.

    • Brettermeier says:

      I forgot the link:

  • BigSir says:

    Does her violin Rhapsody sound like Arvo Pärt to anyone else? up-yes, down-no

  • Don Ciccio says:

    The thing about Muti is that he doesn’t really care about contemporary music. If he did, he would judiciously revive some of the works that he conducted throughout his career. Can someone seriously think that in seven decades of making music there were no pieces better than, say Martucci’s concerto for piano, a work that he championed? (And don’t get me wrong, I am glad he does champion Martucci, even though he’s not exactly a great composer.)

    But hey, contemporary music is part of the job description and must be done.

    • John Porter says:

      I think that is about right. Muti goes through the motions but doesn’t seem to really champion any contemporary composers or works. Going back to his time in Philly, he doesn’t really have much enthusiasm for contemporary or early repertoire.

      • Don Ciccio says:

        Surprising RE: early music, since Muti has in his repertoire works by Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Caldara, Pergolesi and Bach. He really has little patience for HIP, but is too diplomatic / cares too much about his image in order to publicly admit it.

  • sam says:

    It’s high time to get rid of the composer-in-residence: it does no good for either the output of the composer, or the repertoire of the CSO.

    Quick, and no googling, name a single piece, or whistle a single tune from a work, written by a CSO composer-in-residence for the CSO.


    • John Borstlap says:

      Not very clever. If whistleness of a tune would be the condition for new pieces, the entire oeuvre of Shostakovich, Britten, Stravinsky, Szymanowsky and many other great composers would not qualify.

      It was in the 19th century when people insisted to be able to whistle a tune as a benchmark for musical appreciation. We have outgrown that kind of thing.

      • Ashu says:

        Are you kidding? I fell in love with The Rite of Spring when I was sixteen, and used to whistle large sections of it all the time, being homeless on the streets of Toronto, and lacking an instrument.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Great choice. Her music is wonderful and I think this will be a real opportunity for her. Congrats to all!