Just in: Marin Alsop signs on in Chicago

Just in: Marin Alsop signs on in Chicago


norman lebrecht

February 11, 2022

Musicians of the Chicago Symphony posted this message last night:

Congrats to a great human being @marinalsop.conductor on her contract extension as Chief Conductor at @raviniafestival !!!
The @chicagosymphony musicians are looking forward to this summer, and also to Saturday night’s repeat performance of Barber, Rachmaninoff, and Elgar.
Can we see where this is heading?
Her own foundation issues this statement: Ravinia has just extended Marin Alsop’s contract as Chief Conductor for three years, through the summer of 2025. Renewing and growing her bond with Ravinia and the CSO, in the 2022 season Alsop is inaugurating the Breaking Barriers Festival, an annual series that celebrates the diverse artists and leaders helping classical music continue to grow its roots.


  • fflambeau says:

    At the Ravinia Festival. Does that mean the whole shibang?

  • Couperin says:

    Can you imagine being a couple years away from retirement and then Alsop becomes your conductor? What an epic bummer of a way to go out.

  • MacroV says:

    I assume Norman is knowledgable enough about the U.S. music scene to know that the CSO and the Ravinia Festival are separate entities, and that the fact that Ravinia extended Marin Alsop’s contract a few years has no connection to the CSO’s search for a new music director.

    But it’s a good headline, right?

  • GCMP says:

    I believe that no music director of Ravinia (at least in the past several decades) has been music director of the actual CSO. I am sure some people might like that to change, and others not. Ravinia has been de-emphasizing the CSO in any case.

  • Gerald says:

    No Ravinia Festival music director/principal conductor/chief conductor has ever gone on to to be appointed music director of the CSO.

    • he says:

      No CSO music director has ever conducted Ravinia.

      (It sounds so good I won’t even bother to fact check, lol).

      • PL says:

        Because Ravinia has had its own music director the CSO MD typically did not conduct at Ravinia. the CSO is essentially for hire there. If anything this solidifies she won’t be the next CSO MD.

      • Dan Kujala says:

        Solti first conducted the CSO at Ravinia in 1954

      • MacroV says:

        I think you’re wrong. I don’t Solti ever did (not as MD, anyway) but IIRC Barenboim might have done some concerts there (acts of Wagner operas come to mind). Maybe Reiner or Martinon back in the day.

      • Max Raimi says:

        I remember a gorgeous “Marriage of Figaro” presided over by Daniel Barenboim on an uncharacteristically frigid evening more than 20 years ago. When Bernard Haitink was our Principal Guest Conductor in the interregnum between Barenboim and Muti, he led some programs in the summer of 2008 to prepare tour repertoire that we performed in Europe at the end of the summer.

  • he says:

    The photo, I love it that the sign for the dressing room is in braille, as if there ever was, or will be, a blind conductor.

    • Bill says:

      You know, someone OTHER than the conductor might be a) looking for the conductor’s dressing room, or b) be in the hallway and want to know just where they are. The rooms containing the electrical distribution equipment at the office also are labeled in Braille, as are the keys in the drive-up ATMs, but I do not believe either are necessarily done so for the convenience of blind electricians or drivers.

    • Imre Palló says:

      Toscanini was almost blind, he had to memorize everything!

    • Nydo says:

      Or blind visitors to the dressing room?

    • Monty Earleman says:

      Why not? Plenty of deaf ones around….

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Perhaps not, but a few have become deaf.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Well, they all carry white sticks…

    • Max Raimi says:

      I believe the Americans With Disabilities Act requires braille on signage of this nature. As far as I know, there is nothing in the law stipulating an exception for conductor’s dressing rooms.

  • Bill says:

    I can see where this is going, yes. It looks like Marin Alsop will be conducting more concerts at the Ravinia Festival.

    It is about as relevant to the question of who will succeed Muti as watching to see who conducted the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was to divining who would conduct the LAPhil.

  • Tom Stansbury says:

    I have been privately predicting for several years that Marin would become the next conductor of the CSO. Let’s see if that happens.

  • prof says:

    The CSO has her right where they want her. That’s all.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    Baltimore native here. I respect Alsop enormously, she handled a very difficult situation with maximum class and gave some very good nights over the years. But Chicago is exactly wrong for her. They’re preoccupied with their status, and if they don’t have a big trad celebrity, they will do nothing but snipe. They’re going to eat her alive and it will delay the next woman to step up to a major MD post, not clear the way.

    If she belongs anywhere in the Big Five, it’s New York, who needs a creator of amazing musical events that get the city talking. New York ignores her at their own expense.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Strikes me that extending La Alsop in Ravinia is a coded way of saying she won’t be appointed to Symphony Hall.

  • Aurelia says:

    I’m fairly sure that Muti conducted the CSO in Ravinia in the early 70s, it may even have been his American debut.

  • Max Raimi says:

    Ravinia has unique challenges, in that we are preparing two or three programs in a single week, and rehearsal time is consequently extremely short. One of Marin’s many strengths is a genius for time management, being able to use a minimum of time to address as many musical and technical issues as possible. I was very happy to see this.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      That’s certainly been true for the years that she was MD for the Cabrillo Music Festival – a festival which involves a lot of logistics, and moving people and things about.

  • Dick says:

    I worked with her several times and she is the absolute worst. She is very stiff in her conducting

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    Oh I know where this is heading!! Heartbroken Muti will finally retire into one of this favorite … forests, in Campania or Eastern Europe!!

  • Donna Blankman says:

    I am so excited for Maestra Alsop!
    We knew her years ago when she conducted the Long Island Philharmonic! A super talented musician and delightful person!
    Enjoy you new post, Marin!

  • Susan Brower says:

    I would love to know if Marin is related to our family line of Alsop from Wales & the U.S. we have musicians in our family as well