Chicago Symphony Orchestra 2023-24 season ushers in new era

Music director Riccardo Muti will be stepping down from his post, but will remain an integral part of the orchestra’s operations and will return to the podium for a series of concerts.

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As previously announced, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director Riccardo Muti (pictured in 2019) will be stepping down from the post for the 2023-24 season. He will, however, conduct several concerts throughout the course of the season, it was announced Wednesday. Muti became music director of the CSO in 2010, succeeding Daniel Barenboim.

As previously announced, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director Riccardo Muti (pictured in 2019) will be stepping down from the post for the 2023-24 season. He will, however, conduct several concerts throughout the course of the season, it was announced Wednesday. Muti became music director of the CSO in 2010, succeeding Daniel Barenboim.

Todd Rosenberg/Via AP

Nearly 30 guest conductors from around the world, including some of the field’s biggest names like James Conlon, Susanna Mälkki, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Michael Tilson Thomas, will join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2023-24.

This panorama of podium talent along with an array of top soloists, including trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, violinist Gil Shaham and pianist Yuja Wang, will be among the highlights of the upcoming season, which the orchestra announced Wednesday.

The larger-than-usual number of guest conductors in 2023-24 is necessitated by what will soon be an open music-director position. Riccardo Muti, who has typically led 10 weeks of subscription and special concerts, is stepping down in June 2023 after 13 years in the post.

Susanna Mälkki will be among more than 30 guest conductors featured during the 2023-24 season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Susanna Mälkki will be among more than 30 guest conductors featured during the 2023-24 season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

AFP via Getty Images

But even though he will no longer carry the title of Zell Music Director, Muti will still have a large presence in 2023-24. In addition to leading tours in the United States and Europe, he will take the Orchestra Hall podium for the CSO’s first three programs in September for seven concerts.

Among the focal points of his fall appearances will be Sept. 28-30 concerts featuring the world premiere of Philip Glass’ “The Triumph of the Octagon.” In February 2022, Muti and the CSO performed the Symphony No. 11 by the famed 86-year-old composer, known for scores for such films as “The Hours” (2002).

Continuing its long history of presenting new music, the CSO will perform the premieres of four commissioned works in 2023-24. In addition to the new Glass creation will be: Nov. 9-11, Chrisopher Theofanidis, “Indigo Heaven;” March 21-24, Lowell Liebermann, Flute Concerto No. 2, and May 30-31 and June 1, Jessie Montgomery, Percussion Concerto.

Montgomery will return in 2023-24 for her third and final year as the orchestra’s Mead Composer-in-Residence; and the initial two-year tenure of the CSO’s artist-in-residence, Hilary Hahn, has been extended an extra year through June 2024. The two recently won significant related honors, with Musical America naming them 2023 composer and artist of the year, respectively.

Joshua Bell performs during Lincoln Center’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Gala on May 5, 2019 in New York City. The CSO will present the Chicago premiere of Bell’s “The Elements” as part of the 2023-24 season at Symphony Center.

Joshua Bell performs during Lincoln Center’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Gala on May 5, 2019 in New York City. The CSO will present the Chicago premiere of Bell’s “The Elements” as part of the 2023-24 season at Symphony Center.

Getty Images for Lincoln Center

In addition to the four world premieres, the CSO will present the Chicago debut of “The Elements,” a five-moment work commissioned by famed violinist Joshua Bell, who will serve as soloist for the June 13-15 performances. In an unusual arrangement, each of the piece’s five movements was written by a different well-known composer — Jake Heggie, Jennifer Higdon, Edgar Meyer, Jessie Montgomery and Kevin Puts.

Also announced Wednesday was the line-up for Symphony Center Presents, which operates under the auspices of the CSO. Among its attention-grabbing offerings in 2023-24 are two visiting orchestras, starting Nov. 28 with Daniel Barenboim scheduled to lead the Staatskapelle Berlin. The conductor, who turned 80 in November, is well known to Chicago audiences, having served as music director of the CSO in 1991-2006.

In addition, Simon Rattle, a celebrated conductor whose last Chicago podium appearance was in 2009, will lead the Bavarian Radio Symphony in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 on April 28.

For more information on the CSO’s 2023-24 season, visit cso.org.

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