Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Center Set for an outstanding 2011-12 Season

It is unfortunate that Riccardo Muti’s first season has been marred with health issues.  The maestro’s vision is bold.  His presence off the stage year is quite impressive, despite not being able to conduct on stage.  If the Muti can stay healthy, the 2011/12 season will prove that classical music and the CSO are alive and well, and that Symphony Center is haven for experience great performances.

“After working very closely with my artistic staff at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association,” says Music Director Riccardo Muti, “I have planned a season that showcases the masterful artistry of this great Orchestra, builds on our relationships with visionary artists, and further strengthens our commitment to serving the greater Chicago community, as well as communities abroad.”

In addition to Muti’s 10 weeks of subscription concerts and 6 weeks of touring, returning guest conductors include Carlos Miguel Prieto, Charles Dutoit, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mitsuko Uchida, Michael Tilson Thomas, and several others.  Some new guest conductors include Russian conductor Kirill Petrenko, Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki, and French conductor Stéphane Denève.

Yo-Yo Ma will continue his work with the CSO as a soloist, chamber musician and Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. Emmanuel Ax will help launch the “Keys to the City” Piano Festival.

  • Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in 10 weeks of subscription concerts and six weeks of touring; appears on multiple series, including Afterwork Masterworks, Beyond the Score, and Symphony Center Presents Orchestra series for the first time; undertakes his first international and West Coast tours as music director, and conducts a run-out concert to Ann Arbor, two world premieres, and Symphony Ball
  • A FREE community concert launches Music Director Riccardo Muti’s second season
  • The CSO’s 2011/12 season focus, An Exuberant Era: 1911/12, honors Gustav Mahler on the centennial of his death and features his music, as well as other works from that time which have become foundations of the orchestral repertoire.  In addition to Mahler, performances of repertoire from 1911 and 1912 that have become staples in orchestral literature include: Debussy’s Images for orchestra, Dukas’ La Péri, Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto, Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire, and Stravinsky’s Petrushka.
  • Keys to the City Piano Festival is a three-week, 13-event festival curated by Emanuel Ax, showcasing the instrument’s history and its roles in many forms from classical music to jazz; also included are FREE symposia and a FREE Chicago piano day for piano enthusiasts of any ability level
  • Eight CSO musicians are spotlighted as soloists with the Orchestra: Concertmaster Robert Chen, Principal Second Violin Baird Dodge, Principal Viola Charles Pikler, Principal Cello John Sharp, Principal Flute Mathieu Dufour, Bass Clarinet J. Lawrie Bloom, Principal Bassoon David McGill, and Principal Trumpet Christopher Martin
  • The CSO gives three world premieres of commissioned works, one each by CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne and Mason Bates, and one by James Matheson
  • The revitalized MusicNOW series continues under the curatorship of Mason Bates and Anna Clyne featuring an eclectic lineup of works by each of them, their teachers, and composers with a broad range of influences, as well as a guest appearance by innovative Angolan-born artist Victor Gama
  • The Institute for Learning, Access, and Training launches Once Upon a Symphony for young children; continues Dream Out Loud and Orchestra Explorers programs; and further expands its community engagement through the Citizen Musician movement, its work with incarcerated youth at the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville, and begins a new partnership with the University of Chicago Charter School’s Woodlawn campus
  • Symphony Center Presents programs spotlight the collaboration between CSO Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma, musicians from the CSO, and distinguished visiting artists; other visiting artists include violinist Joshua Bell, pianist Evgeny Kissin, the Australian Chamber Orchestra with Dawn Upshaw, and jazz greats Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman; programming for the Symphony Center Presents Jazz, Piano, and Chamber Music series featured in Keys to the City Piano Festival

There is literally so much happening next year, it’s impossible to summarize it all in a single post.  The above just touches on what Chicagoans can expect next year.

For more information about the 2011/12 season, you can also view a brochure (PDF) at the following link.  To purchase a season subscription, visit or call 800-223-7114 Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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