Just in: Chicago Symphony retunes after 14 months’ silence

Just in: Chicago Symphony retunes after 14 months’ silence


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2021

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has announced three concerts for Symphony Center audiences, its first since March 2020. The conductors are Michael Mulcahy, Erina Yashima and Edo de Waart. Each concert will be repeated four times.

‘The return of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts at Symphony Center will put our city that much closer to fully reopening and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic,’ said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. ‘Having a successful, thriving arts scene is essential to ensuring our
city’s post-pandemic prosperity—making programs like these vitally important as we continue our work to revitalize this critical sector.’

Concert 1:
Copland Fanfare for the Common Man
Schuller Symphony for Brass and Percussion
Barber Mutations from Bach
Tilson Thomas Street Song for Symphonic Brass
Bernstein, arr. Erikson Presto Barbaro from
On the Waterfront

Concert 2:
Coleridge-Taylor Novelette in A Minor, Op. 52, No. 3
Coleridge-Taylor Novelette in D Major, Op. 52, No. 4
Schubert Symphony No. 5
Montgomery Strum
Kodály Dances of Galánta

Concert 3:
Mozart Overture to Don Giovanni
Wagner Siegfried Idyll
Mozart Symphony No. 40


  • Stan says:

    Uninspiring choice of works. They don’t tempt me at all!

    • MacroV says:

      Actually, the first show is CSO brass in the spotlight, conducted b y their longtime 2nd trombonist; kinda cool.

      2nd program with a focus on Black composers and who doesn’t love Schubert 5.

      3rd? I’ll go see DeWaart conduct anything.

      Ok, so there’s no Mahler or Bruckner; they have to start small.

      • Peter San Diego says:

        And who doesn’t love the Dances of Galánta? That entire program is strong, with four wonderful composers and works that aren’t programmed frequently.

      • BigSir says:

        Montgomery is composer in residence. I expect she is going to be spotlighted throughout her time there was Salonen in NY.

    • Eusebius says:

      why, were you expecting works by non-white, non-european trans composers?

    • John Kelly says:

      Good grief! After over a year of no live Chicago Symphony and now they’re back you want to complain about the PROGRAMMING??? You must be one heck of a glass half empty person Stan. Geez.

      • Stan says:

        If I sound negative, it is because I can’t wait to hear orchestras play larger works (some of my favorites).

        I accept that (as MacroV said) they have to start small. Their return is to be celebrated. ‍♂️

    • Maria says:

      Maybe not, but they’ll tempt a lot more who will be delighted to be there for extremely well played live music than yet another endless stream.

  • Violinist says:

    Concert 1: Okay
    Concert 2: Ooo! Interesting combo
    Concert 3: Someone’s just phoning in…

    • BRUCEB says:

      Concert 3, alternative reaction: Finally! A concert of good music without all this modern ugliness they keep trying to force down our throats!

      I’ll bet you 5,000 imaginary dollars that this one ends up selling the most tickets. :-/

      • Chuck says:

        Yes, someone’s just phoning in (me, to the wonderful CSO box office representatives, resulting in 2 tickets to “phone in” Concert No. 3 :). Finally, live CSO performances.

  • Eusebius says:

    Excellent program, whetting the appetite for a new season to come.

  • Gustavo says:

    I would have liked to see them last year in Vienna with Prokofiev’s 3rd.

  • sam says:

    You know what Chicago’s season of chamber music playing sans Riccardo Muti during the lockdown has demonstrated?

    Now’s Chicago best chance to revolutionize the American orchestra:

    1) Go full democracy: get rid of the music director and become artistically self-governing, trust your own initiatives and embrace the full musical spectrum of all your colleagues, only invite conductors, a la Vienna

    2) Get a young American director willing to live in Chicago: if getting rid of the MD position is a step too far, trust yourselves to groom a gifted American conductor who’ll make Chicago her home

    • Eusebius says:

      yikes, so basically you want to turn CSO into a headless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
      There are no ‘promising’ young American conductors, male or female, with the cache and charisma of Leonard Bernstein.

    • Eusebius says:

      cachet, not cache lol

    • CSOA Insider says:

      I could not agree more.

      But, Ms. Zell and the Board went in a completely opposite direction, and have already agreed with RM on extension through 2024. It will be inked when he is back.

      RM will bring a lot of baggage that will need to be dealt with.

    • Piston1 says:

      ……right — ’cause that strategy has been such a blazing success at Ravinia.

    • mary says:

      I do belief of hte Big Five or Six or Seven, the only music director not having returned is Muti. It seems he’s chilling out in Europe until the beginning of the next season (probably still pissed that the CSO isn’t flying to Salzburg to celebrate his birthday over the summer).

  • Stickles says:

    Enticing as it may seem, the CSO without an MD in the long run may not turn out as well as you hope. I remember the Haitink/Boulez years well. Although I enjoyed the added exposure to all the different guest conductors, the level of playing under these conductors was spotty. After a disappointing concert of the Brahms first symphony under Chung in which the horns sounded like a quartet of dueling taxi cabs on Michigan Ave, the only thing in my mind then was “They better find an MD soon.” Regarding a young live-in American MD, do you have anyone in mind?

  • BP says:

    “The conductors are Michael Mulcahy, Erina Yashima and Edo de Waart.”

    I see the search for the next music director is progressing along nicely.

  • MER says:

    Two of the most unforgettable sounds of my life in terms of sonic power wedded to quality of sound came from diverse genres, with Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna testing the legendary sound system at the Fillmore East with a single note on his electric bass before the band began to play, causing him to jump backwards (!), and the overall sonic splendor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under George Solti exemplifying the sublime acoustics of Carnegie Hall.

  • MER says:

    Georg Solti (kindly correct spelling if you should decide to publish the previous comment!)

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Much ado ’bout somethin’, I guess. Probably a good idea to just let the brass have a field day on the first concert. Anyway, it’s a start.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Glad to see the mighty CSO getting back on the horse and riding it with care.

    Ravinia has also announced its season which will include the CSO as well.

    This could lead to some interesting programming exploring lesser known works for smaller ensembles but played with a virtuosity that the musicians bring to the table. I look forward to it!

  • fflambeau says:

    Concert no. 1 looks really innovative. All are very top conductors, especially Edo.

  • fflambeau says:

    Programs 1 and 2 are extremely innovative and it is obvious the CSO left the older, very distinguished Edo conduct some very familiar names as a contrast. He’s in his 80’s so this might be a last chance to see him too. This also gives the audience lovely choices. Stan is obviously a know-nothing idiot.

    • Stan says:

      The personal insult is uncalled for, and says more about you than me, doesn’t it?

      I am expressing an opinion. The Copland piece is heard everywhere and not my choice in concert, I don’t like the arrangement from On the Waterfront. I believe the Coleridge-Taylor pieces are not notable even among his own works.

      I grant the Schubert is lovely but I have heard the Mozart pieces so many times over the years – so not again for me. Is that so unreasonable?

      • Stan says:

        I should add that I have recordings of the excellent Mozart 40 but I don’t choose to hear it in concert for some time.

      • fflambeau says:

        You are an idiot and yes, that’s a personal insult. You neglect to say anything about the Schuller, Tilson-Thomas, and Barber pieces but let me guess, you don’t “like them”. To say that Coleridge-Taylor’s pieces are “not notable even among his own works” is different than saying they are “uninspiring”. A distinction an idiot could not see.