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Maestro Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

CSO’s 2017-18 season: Classics, American composers, anniversaries

SHARE CSO’s 2017-18 season: Classics, American composers, anniversaries
SHARE CSO’s 2017-18 season: Classics, American composers, anniversaries

Though still reeling from its acclaimed whirlwind two-week European tour to France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Italy in January, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is not missing a beat.

Riccardo Muti, entering his eighth season as music director of the CSO, and Jeff Alexander, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA), have just announced the programming for the orchestra’s 2017-2018 season, along with most of the planned Symphony Center Presents (SCP) events.

Muti’s 10 weeks of subscription programs with the CSO will include orchestral and choral masterworks by Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Rossini, Mozart, Debussy, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. There also will be a focus on new works by contemporary American composers, including CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Elizabeth Ogonek and CSO member Max Raimi, plus pieces by such Pulitzer Prize-winning composers past-and-present as Aaron Copland, Jennifer Higdon and George Walker.

Muti will welcome renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter for back-to-back programs of concertos by Mozart (Sept. 22, 2017) and Tchaikovsky (Sept. 23 and 26). Muti and cellist Yo-Yo Ma will join forces with the CSO (June 14-16, 2018) for performances of Shostakovich’s “Second Cello Concerto,” in a program that also will feature Prokofiev’s “Third Symphony.”

The 2017-2018 season will also mark the 60th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and in recognition of this landmark Muti will lead two programs of major choral works, leading the CSO and Chorus in Schubert’s “Mass No. 6” (March 22-24, 2018), and Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” (on the season finale programs, June 21-24, 2018).

In April 2018, Muti will lead the CSO in a program that surveys a century of American music with George Walker’s “Lyric for Strings” performed alongside Aaron Copland’s iconic “Lincoln Portrait,” and Czech composer Antonin Dvořák’s ode to America, the “New World Symphony.”

Three CSO world premieres conducted by Muti also will highlight American composers, with Elizabeth Ogonek’s new work (Sept. 28, 29 and Oct. 1); a concerto for low brass by Jennifer Higdon (Feb. 1-3, 2018); and “Three Lisel Müller Settings,” a new work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra by composer and CSO violist Max Raimi (on the same program as the Schubert “Mass” in March).

Popular conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen will return to conduct the CSO in Mahler’s massive “Symphony No. 9” on May 17, 18, 19 and 22, 2018.

In addition, Muti and the orchestra will appear as part of a three-concert series (the first is Nov. 10) at Wheaton College’s Edman Memorial Chapel in a program that will include works by Mozart and Haydn.

In a prepared statement, CSOA president Alexander noted that along with Muti’s concerts, “We are pleased to welcome many of the world’s most renowned guest conductors and soloists to our stage, and to share the sounds of the CSO during two domestic tours.”

Several programs during the season will mark major composer anniversaries including the centennial of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, the 150th anniversary of Gioachino Rossini’s death, the 150th birthday of Claude Debussy and the 200th birthday of Charles Gounod.

Guest conductor Marek Janowski (who had a long tenure as chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra), will make his subscription debut, and guest conductor Herbert Blomstedt, who turns 90 this year (and is a conductor laureate of the San Francisco Symphony), will return to lead the CSO for the first time since 2007. In addition, renowned composer-conductor John Williams will lead the CSO in a special concert featuring his film music and selections from other classic movie scores. The season also will see the CSP debuts of 15 guest artists, including violinist Isabelle Faust, and conductors Giovanni Antonini, Jiří Bělohlávek and John Storgårds.The CSO’s acclaimed MusicNOW series will celebrate its 20th anniversary during the season, too, with full details to be announced in the spring.

Among the highlights of the Symphony Center Presents (SCP) programming will be the return of pianist Lang Lang for a solo recital; appearances by Evgeny Kissin, Mitsuko Uchida, Piotr Anderszewski and Maurizio Pollini; and the series debut of award-winning French pianist Lucas Debargue. The SCP Orchestras series will feature the Minnesota Orchestra with a program of Sibelius and Beethoven, and the Mariinsky Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev.

The SCP Chamber Music series boasts the debut of an all-star trio — Yo-Yo Ma, Leonidas Kavakos and Emanuel Ax — in an all-Brahms program on Feb. 25, 2018; the debut of a unique artistic collaboration between Itzhak Perlman and Martha Argerich on March 18, 2018; and a rare chamber music appearance by pianist Evgeny Kissin with the Emerson String Quartet on April 15, 2018.

The 2017/18 SCP Jazz series programming details will be announced in April.

For a complete schedule visit www.cso.org or call (312) 294-3000.

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