John von Rhein has been the classical music critic of The Chicago Tribune since 1977. During that time, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has ...

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John von Rhein

John von Rhein

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Russian pinch hitter minds the CSO store masterfully

Russian pinch hitter minds the CSO store masterfully

February 12, 2016

Gennady Rozhdestvensky is the gift that keeps on giving to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its audience.

  • Recommended Chicago-area classical concerts

    February 11, 2016

    Featured pick: Chicago a cappella: Just in time for Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, actors from Chicago Shakespeare Theater join the vocal ensemble under John William Trotter's direction for a celebration of the Bard's verse in song. 8 p.m. Saturday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; and 4 p.m. Sunday, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. (repeated Feb. 20 in Oak Park and Feb. 21 in Naperville); $30-$38, $27 for seniors, $12 for students; 773-281-7820,

  • Lyric Opera's revival of 'Rosenkavalier' glows with beauty, sentiment

    February 9, 2016

    Few works in the standard repertory test an opera company's world-class bona fides more acutely than Richard Strauss' most endearing and popular stage work, "Der Rosenkavalier."

  • Patricia Racette lifts COT double bill of comic, tragic rarities

    February 7, 2016

    Chicago Opera Theater is continuing its foreshortened 2015-16 season with an unlikely but effective pairing of two one-act operas, one a genuine rarity — Francis Poulenc's tragic monodrama "La Voix Humaine" — the other, Giacomo Puccini's enduring comic masterpiece "Gianni Schicchi," which pops up on occasion, but more often in student productions.

  • Russian maestro's Shostakovich program with CSO marked by power, eloquence

    February 6, 2016

    Gennady Rozhdestvensky is just what the doctor ordered to minister to jet-lagged Chicago Symphony Orchestra players. The musicians returned home last week from a tiring, three-week Asian tour only to find themselves without the services of the music director who had just led them to reported triumph in Taiwan, Japan, China and South Korea.

  • Russian to sub for Muti at CSO

    February 4, 2016

    Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky has agreed to extend his residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by an extra week to take over the first series of subscription concerts music director Riccardo Muti was to have led as part of his now-abandoned winter residency. Muti withdrew following recent surgery for a minor hip accident in Europe.

  • Recommended Chicago-area classical concerts

    February 4, 2016

    Chicago Opera Theater: The company continues its season with an unusual double bill: Francis Poulenc's poignant "La Voix Humaine" ("The Human Voice"), starring soprano Patricia Racette as a woman on a late-night phone call with a lover who's left her for another; and Puccini's ever-popular comedy "Gianni Schicchi," updated to the swinging '60s. Opens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and repeats Feb. 14, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St.; $35-$125; 312-704-8414.

  • Muti cancels CSO residency following surgery

    February 2, 2016

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti has withdrawn from his Feb. 11-20 residency here so he can recover from a hip operation following a minor accident, an orchestra spokeswoman announced Tuesday night.

  • Patricia Racette raises the emotional ante in every operatic portrayal

    February 2, 2016

    Chicago Opera Theater always has been an ensemble-oriented company, as opposed to a company that presents shows emblazoned with the names of big international singers, like a certain heavyweight crosstown rival.

  • Gripping monodrama 'My Lai' evokes dark moment of Vietnam War

    February 1, 2016

    Considering the horrifying real-life atrocity that inspired "My Lai," the absorbing monodrama performed by tenor Rinde Eckert and the Kronos Quartet on Friday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the thing that most impressed me was the work's overall restraint.

  • Francis Akos, Chicago Symphony violinist for 48 years, dies

    January 29, 2016

    Francis Akos was one of several prominent, Hungarian-born musicians of Jewish ancestry who, along with his colleagues, cellist Janos Starker and violinist Victor Aitay, managed to survive the Holocaust and, following World War II, immigrate to the American Midwest, where each enjoyed long and distinguished performing careers.

  • Recommended Chicago-area classical concerts

    January 28, 2016

    Kronos Quartet, "My Lai": Beginning a five-year creative collaboration with the Harris Theater, the ensemble presents the world premiere of Jonathan Berger's operatic monodrama for string quartet, voice (tenor Rinde Eckert) and Vietnamese instruments (Van-Anh Vanessa Vo), based on the infamous 1968 massacre of civilians during the Vietnam War. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St.; $35-$125; 312-334-7777,

  • CSO announces 2016-17 schedule: More adventure, better balance of old and new

    January 26, 2016

    Those who find the subscription series programming for the current Chicago Symphony Orchestra season all too reactionary should be heartened by the more adventurous schedule the CSO announced Tuesday for its 2016-17 season.

  • Lyric Opera's 'Nabucco' delivers brilliance on all fronts

    January 24, 2016

    Considering Lyric Opera of Chicago's long and honorable history as a haven for the stage works of Giuseppe Verdi, his "Nabucco" has led a curiously spotty performance life at the company once dubbed "La Scala West."

  • Recommended Chicago-area classical concerts

    January 21, 2016

    eighth blackbird — "Hand Eye": The Chicago-based new music sextet, artists in residence this season at the MCA, collaborate with the six-member composers' collective Sleeping Giant on a unique fusion of live music and visual design inspired by contemporary artworks. 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; $10-$30; 312-397-4010,

  • New 'Trojans,' 'Magic Flute' top Lyric Opera schedule for 2016-17

    January 14, 2016

    The earnest efforts of general director Anthony Freud and music director Andrew Davis to make Lyric Opera of Chicago a leader rather than a follower among the leading American opera companies continue apace.

  • At the 'free' Grant Park Music Festival, it's fiscal reality time

    January 12, 2016

    The area's classical music festival landscape will be tuned to the key of transition this summer, starting at Chicago's cultural playground by the lake.

  • Review: Placido Domingo, Ana Maria Martinez perform at Lyric Opera

    January 10, 2016

    It has been nearly a decade since Placido Domingo sang at Lyric Opera, and his devoted legion of local admirers no doubt have been feeling much deprived. So it was no surprise on Saturday night that the Civic Opera House was packed with cellphone-camera-flashing fans for the fancy concert of arias and songs the multitasking singer-cum-conductor-cum-impresario presented with soprano Ana Maria Martinez and the Lyric Opera Orchestra, assembled onstage under music director Andrew Davis.

  • CSO offers eloquent performance in honor of Pierre Boulez

    January 8, 2016

    Uncanny are the workings of fate, sometimes.

  • Renee Fleming to helm 'Chicago Voices,' a new Lyric Opera initiative

    January 7, 2016

    As superstar soprano Renee Fleming counts down her appearances in opera and broadens her late-career involvement in the realms of crossover, education and community engagement, there would appear to be no new worlds remaining for Lyric Opera's creative consultant to conquer.

  • Itzhak Perlman lets Juilliard students show off their chops

    January 7, 2016

    Completely by happenstance, two of the nation's oldest and most respected schools of music are sending their leading instrumental ensembles to downtown Chicago this month.

  • A milestone for NU's winter chamber music festival

    January 5, 2016

    Not so long ago, the choices of live classical music available in January to concertgoers on the North Shore were about as bleak as the winds whipping off Lake Michigan.

  • Classical highlights of winter: 10 music events to counter the chill

    January 4, 2016

    Do we care how frightful the weather is outside when we have the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing symphonic favorites inside? Or when "Der Rosenkavalier" and "Nabucco" are on offer at Lyric Opera? Or when we have eighth blackbird, the Kronos Quartet and Philip Glass to keep us up to speed on the music of our time?

  • Recommended classical concerts of the week

    December 30, 2015

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra: British conductor Jonathan Nott returns to the subscription series for the first time since 2012 to lead Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture," Richard Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben" and Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major, with German cellist Johannes Moser as soloist; 8 p.m. Thursday (repeated Jan. 8-9); $34-$221; Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-294-3000,

  • Best, worst of 2015 in Chicago classical music

    December 27, 2015

    It's the season to count the year's musical blessings – also those people, performances and errant behavior that made 2015 not quite so blessed. With that in mind, we present our 39th annual Rheingold Awards. The envelopes, please…

  • Chicagoan of the Year in Classical Music: Vladimir Kulenovic, a conductor with an uncommon passion

    December 23, 2015

    Vladimir Kulenovic, music director of the north suburban Lake Forest Symphony, is at once selfish and selfless, useful qualities for a bright, ambitious, young musician out to make a name for himself in the fast track of symphonic conducting.

  • CSO and Conlon close out year with winning program of rarities

    December 18, 2015

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra would appear to be so locked into its long-term retrospective mindset that it is suffering short-term memory loss. The unfortunate victim, at present, is guest conductor James Conlon, who returns to the downtown podium this weekend at Symphony Center to lead the CSO in its final subscription program of 2015, an altogether absorbing mix of music, at that.

  • Keeping Polish culture thriving is 'golden' for the Lira Ensemble

    December 15, 2015

    For the last 50 years, Chicago's Lira Ensemble has made it its mission, in the words of the group's co-founder, artistic director and general manager, Lucyna Migala, "to bring the best of Polish culture into American life, a cultural gift from people who immigrated to this country from Poland."

  • A dull 'Messiah' from Bernard Labadie and the CSO

    December 11, 2015

    The first in a series of holiday performances of Handel's "Messiah" that Bernard Labadie directed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Thursday night at Symphony Center was uncannily reminiscent of the interpretation led by Peter Schreier with these same forces just over a decade ago here. And not in a good way.

  • Lyric's 'Bel Canto' depicts triumph of love over terrorist bullets

    December 8, 2015

    Seldom has a new opera been overtaken by real-life events quite to the degree that "Bel Canto" has at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

  • Riccardo Muti infuses diverse CSO program with cohesion, vitality

    December 4, 2015

    Riccardo Muti places great store by anniversaries, especially personal ones. And well he should: His concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night will be his 250th with this orchestra since their musical relationship began (at Ravinia) in 1973. That is a milestone to be celebrated, and, indeed, a special presentation is planned during the performance.

  • The best classical recordings of 2015

    December 4, 2015

    Of the hundreds of new recordings I've listened to over the past year, here are 10 I have returned to again and again with renewed pleasure. May they give you similar listening satisfaction this holiday season.

  • Classical listening delights, wrapped in gift boxes

    December 4, 2015

    Highly recommended classical boxed sets for gift-givers and receivers this holiday season, listed in descending order of price:

  • Recommended area classical concerts of the week

    December 3, 2015

    Classical picks of the week:

  • Holiday concerts are everywhere in Chicago area

    December 1, 2015

    For many of us, the holiday season would not be the holiday season without the spiritual comfort and joy of live musical performances. Fortunately, festive seasonal sounds are perhaps more abundant than ever before throughout the Chicago area in the coming weeks.

  • Jane Glover leads Music of the Baroque in Handel's oratorio 'Judas Maccabaeus'

    November 30, 2015

    Just about any holiday season, you can hardly turn around without bumping into multiple performances of Handel's "Messiah." But there are more than a few other worthy Handel oratorios audiences don't often get to hear, at any time of the year, and among them "Judas Maccabaeus" ranks very high.

  • Marin Alsop's downtown CSO debut showcases superlative music authority

    November 28, 2015

    The curious fact that more than 13 years had to elapse between Marin Alsop's podium debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, at Ravinia, and her CSO subscription series debut on Friday night no doubt had as much to do with the byzantine internal politics of Orchestra Hall as scheduling problems.

  • Lyric Opera's 'Bel Canto' ripped from the heart, not the headlines

    November 24, 2015

    My pain, my pain, has now rehearsed.

  • Female conductors have made inroads, but the fight isn't over

    November 24, 2015

    So assimilated have female conductors become in today's classical music world that it's easy to forget how long it took for them to gain acceptance in a traditionally male-dominated area of the performing arts.

  • Conductor Zukerman wears several hats, brings out best in a chamber-size CSO

    November 20, 2015

    Although Pinchas Zukerman has firmly established his reputation as a conductor of full-size symphony orchestras over the last decade or so, it is with smaller ensembles that the celebrated violinist and violist launched his podium career and that appear to suit his baton skills most congenially.

  • Itzhak Perlman to talk disability here, receive presidential honor in D.C.

    November 18, 2015

    The Harris Theater for Music and Dance will host a conversation between superstar violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman and Marca Bristo, president and CEO of the Chicago disability advocacy organization Access Living, the day of Perlman’s concert with the Juilliard Orchestra at the theater on Jan. 6.

  • CSO's MusicNOW sees a changing of the guard

    November 17, 2015

    Just because Samuel C. Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek are next in line as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's composers in residence doesn't make them carbon copies of their predecessors, Mason Bates and Anna Clyne.

  • Evgeny Kissin caps off recital with vivid Spanish travelogue

    November 16, 2015

    Connoisseurs of the keyboard are ever ready to pounce on opportunities to catch the Russian superstar pianist Evgeny Kissin whenever he comes to town. Once word got around that Sunday's recital at Orchestra Hall was to be his final Chicago appearance before 2018, there was a stampede to the box office. The event was virtually sold out, and stage seats had to be added.

  • Lyric Opera's 'Merry Widow' gets rolling in final two acts

    November 15, 2015

    Lyric Opera probably didn't need another new production of "The Merry Widow" so soon after its 2009 Gary Griffin staging of the beloved Franz Lehar operetta. Still, with a lavish, relatively new Metropolitan Opera production starring Lyric's creative consultant and resident superstar, soprano Renee Fleming, just ripe for the taking, the company could hardly have passed up the opportunity to bring it to Chicago.

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    November 13, 2015

    Classical picks of the week:

  • Adams' 'Harmonielehre' retains its punch, after 30 years

    November 12, 2015

    If the Chicago Symphony Orchestra isn't doing very much this season on behalf of the newest new music, at least it is honoring one of the masterpieces of recent new music at subscription concerts this weekend.

  • New musical horizons at player-run Chicago Philharmonic

    November 10, 2015

    Across the classical music marketplace of metropolitan Chicago, connecting with communities is the anthem of suburban symphony orchestras. That's been especially true in recent decades, as these arts organizations expand their offerings in creative new ways they hope will attract younger, more diverse audience members.

  • Haymarket Opera showcases worthy Handel rarity 'Amadigi'

    November 7, 2015

    With its Chicago debut of Handel's 1715 opera seria "Amadigi di Gaula," Haymarket Opera Company has closed a circle, and done so with all the virtues that have made the period-instrument troupe so valuable to the musical life of the city.

  • Classical Corner

    November 5, 2015

    Picks of the Week:

  • Ambitious Haymarket Opera Company going for the brass ring

    November 3, 2015

    For some Chicago early music groups, the path to success has been bumpy. Leadership failures, internal squabbles, loss of personnel and other problems continue to threaten their survival, miring them in mediocrity and frustrating efforts to make the city the nationally recognized Midwest hub of period performance it could and should be.

  • Review: Lyric Opera stages new production of 'Wozzeck'

    November 2, 2015

    Like a grim, silent sentry, a monument to the victims of World War I looms upstage in Scottish director David McVicar's stark and wrenching new production of Alban Berg's "Wozzeck" at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Protruding from the bronze shroud covering a fallen soldier is a clenched fist.

  • Bach Collegium Japan battles swimmy sonics at Rockefeller Chapel, wins

    October 30, 2015

    Chicago audiences have had to bide their time before hearing the Bach Collegium Japan in concert.

  • Joshua Bell among sonic highlights this week in classical music

    October 29, 2015

    Andras Schiff: The thoughtful Hungarian pianist plays the second of three recitals devoted to the final keyboard sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. 3 p.m. Sunday, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $35-$102; 312-294-3000,

  • With new 'Wozzeck,' Lyric returns to the heart of darkness

    October 27, 2015

    Alban Berg's "Wozzeck" came late to Chicago, and since then local audiences have had regrettably few opportunities to experience this wrenching music drama, one of the revolutionary masterpieces of 20th century opera, in the theater.

  • CSO Association posts $1.3 million deficit, despite record ticket sales

    October 22, 2015

    The news was mixed in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association's financial statement for the year ending June 30, it was announced Thursday.

  • Finesse marks performance of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Harris Theater

    October 22, 2015

    Chicago audiences are spoiled for choice when it comes to chamber music. With so much quality homegrown activity raising public awareness of and receptivity to the rich chamber music repertory, it's no wonder the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has established a strong beachhead in downtown Chicago in the course of its four seasons of residence at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Competition from the outside has actually proved to be a positive.

  • Chicago's dynamic eighth blackbird is MCA's new living art installation

    October 20, 2015

    "I think the impulse is right — I just need to do it better," composer David T. Little admits to one of the ensemble members, cellist Nicholas Photinos. "You're playing it as I wrote it," the bearded, shaggy-haired composer tells clarinetist Michael J. Maccaferri. "But what I wrote may not be the best option. I'll do some more things to tighten it up."

  • Feddeck makes strong showing in downtown CSO debut

    October 18, 2015

    The vagaries of scheduling at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra found the orchestra musicians playing three different programs under three different conductors last week.

  • Barton Pine foundation given Stradivarius violin

    October 16, 2015

    The Chicago-based Rachel Barton Pine Foundation has acquired a historic Stradivarius violin dating from 1732.

  • Kissin rides a Russian warhorse to glory with CSO

    October 16, 2015

    American symphony orchestras are always searching for creative strategies to counter the steady decline of concertgoers who buy their tickets by subscription. But one traditional means of ensuring a rush to the box office never seems to grow old, and that is engaging a charismatic and hugely gifted soloist. If there are far fewer such artists to go around than there once were, the formula remains eminently viable.

  • Composer, solo cellist: Both hats fit Joshua Roman just fine

    October 13, 2015

    The centuries-old tradition of the composer-performer has pretty much fallen by the wayside in our increasingly specialized classical music era, when the creators and re-creators of music do their thing more or less independently, typically coming together only when it serves their purposes.

  • Gifted young violinist the star of Semyon Bychkov's mostly Brahms program with CSO

    October 9, 2015

    Semyon Bychkov has been appearing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra fairly regularly since 1988 and during that time has proved himself one of the orchestra's most dependable guest conductors. Not always the most charismatic of podium guests, but unfailingly thorough in a way that calls attention to how the music is made and what it has to say to the listener, rather than what an interpreter can do to call attention to himself.

  • NU's new Galvin Hall, Dover Quartet work splendidly in concert

    October 8, 2015

    A new concert facility and a new resident string quartet have made Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music a prime center of attention this fall.

  • Dieter Kober, longtime conductor of Chicago Chamber Orchestra, dies at 95

    October 7, 2015

    Late in his podium career Dieter Kober insisted his longevity as music director of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra should qualify him for the Guinness Book of World Records.

  • A rift in Chicago's early music scene? Not so, says Baroque Band's Garry Clarke

    October 6, 2015

    Baroque Band's ongoing struggle to move up to the next level, artistically and organizationally, may be seen as a microcosm of the growing pains faced by Chicago period-instrument groups in general over the last several decades.

  • Review: Wit, whimsy, vocal fireworks make Lyric's 'Cinderella' soar

    October 5, 2015

    Joan Font's production of "La Cenerentola" ("Cinderella") was such a resounding success at Houston Grand Opera in 2007 when it premiered during Anthony Freud's directorship that you can easily understand why he would want to revive this delightful take on Rossini's sparkling comedy for his first full season at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

  • Harmony in CSO family, as Muti concludes fall term

    October 2, 2015

    With a new labor contract firmly in place, a palpable sense of relief mingled with the music Thursday night at Symphony Center where Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the third and final subscription program of his fall residency.

  • CSO, musicians ratify new three-year contract

    September 29, 2015

    Following one of the longest and hardest-fought series of collective bargaining sessions in recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra history, the musicians finally have a new labor contract.

  • Lawrence Brownlee is a 'normal guy' who sings Rossini like no other

    September 29, 2015

    Lawrence Brownlee is many things: an international opera star, a serious hobbyist-photographer, an avid tennis and table tennis player, a fantasy football junkie. He is due to sing the national anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers (he's a lifelong fan) in November when they play the Cleveland Browns.

  • Lyric Opera opens season with sunny staging of 'Figaro'

    September 27, 2015

    The Anthony Freud era at Lyric Opera of Chicago began in earnest Saturday night when the company launched its 61st season with an ebullient new production by Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Barbara Gaines of Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" ("The Marriage of Figaro").

  • Riccardo Muti leads CSO in Spanish-flavored program; contract talks continue

    September 25, 2015

    The news coming out of Symphony Center at Riccardo Muti's concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Thursday night had rather more to do with what wasn't said than what was.

  • Chicago Opera Theater begins with the young Mozart's 'Lucio Silla'

    September 24, 2015

    However unthinking was Chicago Opera Theater's decision to open its Chicago premiere of a Mozart opera nobody knows on the same night Lyric Opera is launching its season with a Mozart opera everybody knows, the rare juxtaposition of early and mature Mozart stage works is a boon to local opera buffs. Talk about being spoiled for choice.

  • 'Figaro' and friends get the Barbara Gaines touch in Lyric's season opener

    September 22, 2015

    Barbara Gaines was giving me a peek at the luminous set and sumptuous costumes that grace her new production of "The Marriage of Figaro," which will open the Lyric Opera season Saturday night at the Civic Opera House.

  • CSO high and dry at Symphony Ball gala, not so much at park

    September 20, 2015

    The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra honored their contractual commitments to the institution and the public in the opening weekend of the 125th anniversary season, fully aware that their most recent contract had expired nearly a week before. A new labor agreement was still being negotiated even as the annual Symphony Ball fundraising gala was taking place Saturday evening at Symphony Center.

  • Muti begins CSO season on a festive note, as labor contract talks continue

    September 18, 2015

    So far, so harmonious.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    September 17, 2015

    Concert for Chicago: Music director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its annual free performance for the community. His program holds Beethoven's "Leonore" Overture No 3 and Gustav Mahler's First Symphony. 6:30 p.m. Friday, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; 312-294-3000,

  • CSO rehearses twice with Muti; no contract yet

    September 15, 2015

    With time running out, Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians had their first rehearsals of the season with music director Riccardo Muti Tuesday morning and afternoon at Symphony Center.

  • New CSO season takes a long look back, but what about the future?

    September 15, 2015

    Whether or not a new labor contract is in place by the scheduled start of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 125th anniversary season on Thursday (negotiations were continuing at press time), rest assured there will be a season. Not a terribly adventurous season, to my mind, but at least there are some interesting curios from the CSO's illustrious past, and the usual strong lineup of guest conductors and soloists.

  • CSO contract talks to continue Tuesday

    September 14, 2015

    Contract talks are scheduled to resume Tuesday between the Chicago Federation of Musicians and CSO members negotiating committee, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, to arrive at a successor agreement to the labor contract that expired at midnight on Sunday, according to a joint statement released Monday morning.

  • Lyric offers operatic tasting menu, at a chilly Millennium Park

    September 12, 2015

    One cannot imagine two more different concerts of vocal music than the ones that opened the seasons of Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago over the weekend in downtown Chicago. Differences in scale were part of it, certainly, but differences in artistic intent also were crucial in defining each event.

  • 10 classical concerts to watch for fall

    September 11, 2015

    The autumn portion of Chicago's 2015-16 classical music season brings to mind expectations and questions that won't begin to be answered until the season has run its course. For example:

  • WFMT to bring 21 hours of Bach keyboard music at fall festival

    September 10, 2015

    The idea of performing Johann Sebastian Bach in bulk did not originate in Chicago, of course. But Stephen Alltop appears to have cornered the local market on that particular herculean endeavor.

  • Noteworthy new classical albums to usher in fall

    September 10, 2015

    Here is a sampling of noteworthy new classical recordings set for release this fall:

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    September 10, 2015

    Stars of Lyric Opera: Singers from Lyric's fall roster will be joined by the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus under music director Andrew Davis for the 15th annual free outdoor concert, launching Lyric's 61st season. Artists include Amanda Majeski, Christiane Karg, Rachel Frenkel, Lawrence Brownlee, Luca Pisaroni, Adam Plachetka and members of the Ryan Opera Center. The program will include the complete Act II of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," along with excerpts from Rossini's "La Cenerentola" and opera choruses. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street;

  • Latino Music Festival preview: A colorful array as never before

    September 8, 2015

    What began a decade ago as a smattering of concerts put on by two composer-educators to introduce local audiences to music from Latin America and Spain that was being ignored by most of the area's established classical music organizations has taken on a life and importance its founders could scarcely have imagined.

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    September 3, 2015

    Collaborative Works Festival: A celebration of the American art song in two salon concerts, and a recital by the renowned Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, make up "American Spirit," the fourth annual festival presented by the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago. Pisaroni will sing songs by Bellini, Donaudy, Tosti and others, accompanied by pianist Craig Terry; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave.; $30-$35. Sopranos Laquita Mitchell and Nicole Heaston, tenor Nicholas Phan and pianists Shannon McGinnis and Michael Brown will perform songs by Ives, Rorem, Copland and Hoiby; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St.; free. Terry will lead a free master class; 2 p.m. Friday, PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Ave. The festival continues through Sept. 12;

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    August 27, 2015

    Lincoln Trio: The celebrated Chicago chamber ensemble favors the Ravinia $10 BGH Classics series with an unusual program of "international" 20th century piano trios by Arno Babadjanian, Frank Martin and Rebecca Clarke. 6 p.m Sunday; Bennett Gordon Hall, Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake Cook roads, Highland Park; $10 (no lawn); 847-266-5100,

  • Ravinia sets bulk of CSO programs for 2016 festival

    August 25, 2015

    Ravinia has clarified future directions of classical music programming at the festival following James Conlon’s departure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra residencies, at least when it comes to the 2016 festival.

  • Eco-themed youth opera 'Second Nature' has world premiere

    August 20, 2015

    Thus far, the kid-friendly shows presented by Lyric Unlimited at the Civic Opera House have been honorably intentioned but uneven in quality and uncertain of reach. Did these amusing but frivolous entertainments really succeed in stimulating interest in opera among the children who were attending with parents in tow? Hard to tell, in the short run.

  • Chicago area classical music picks

    August 20, 2015

    Grant Park Music Festival: Principal conductor Carlos Kalmar leads the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, and vocal soloists, in a suitably grand conclusion to the 81st festival season: British composer Edward Elgar's "The Kingdom" (1906). The oratorio, which is almost never performed in the U.S., continues the narrative of the lives of Jesus' disciples and the community of the early Christian church as depicted in Elgar's previous oratorio, "The Apostles." The solo singers are Erin Wall, Jill Grove, Garrett Sorenson and Brian Mulligan. 6:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; free, $25 for reserved seating; 312-742-7638,

  • Cuban virtuoso's U.S. debut scores important coup for Ravinia

    August 19, 2015

    Well before the Minnesota Orchestra earlier this year became the first American orchestra to perform in Cuba since President Barack Obama moved to reinstate diplomatic and economic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the Ravinia Festival already was representing American classical music on Cuban soil.

  • An opera premiere at Lincoln Park Zoo? It's all 'second nature' to Matthew Aucoin

    August 18, 2015

    With his scraggly beard, tousle of curly brown hair, dark jeans and well-worn T-shirt, Matthew Aucoin could easily pass for your average rumpled college freshman.

  • Magnificent 'Flying Dutchman' marks Conlon's Ravinia farewell

    August 17, 2015

    However cloudy the future of opera (and serious classical music in general) may be at Ravinia now that James Conlon has stepped down after 11 seasons as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra residencies, his operatic valedictory to the festival on Saturday night was, in a word, glorious.

  • Bronfman begins his Prokofiev sonata cycle in grand Russian manner

    August 12, 2015

    Anticipation ran high among piano connoisseurs earlier this year when Ravinia announced that the formidable virtuoso Yefim Bronfman was to present the complete cycle of piano sonatas by Sergei Prokofiev, a composer with whose music he has long been identified, in three recitals this month in the Martin Theatre, a first for the festival.

  • A generic 'Cold Mountain' and marvelous Mozart mark Santa Fe Opera season

    August 11, 2015

    Performing in an alluring aerie of an amphitheater atop a mesa in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico, Santa Fe Opera stands practically alone among major American summer festivals as a proponent of new opera. Since the company's first season in 1957, it has staged 44 U.S. and 11 world premieres and has commissioned 10 new operas.

  • Classical Corner

    August 6, 2015

    Yefim Bronfman: The formidable Russian keyboard virtuoso treats Ravinia audiences to an important cycle of works — the complete Prokofiev piano sonatas, played chronologically in three recitals. One of the world's most notable exponents of the Russian piano literature should be in his element. 2 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Tuesday and 8 p.m. Thursday, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook roads, Highland Park; $30-$60, $10 lawn; 847-266-5100,

  • 2 giants of the podium, now inside the box

    August 4, 2015

    Jean Martinon was the "forgotten" music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, his reputation unfairly dwarfed during his tenure (1963-68) and beyond by the lionized conductors who reigned on either side of him, Fritz Reiner and Georg Solti.

  • A lush Zemlinsky highlights Conlon's Ravinia farewell concerts

    July 30, 2015

    For his program with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday night at Ravinia, James Conlon tied together several key elements from his 11 years as music director of the CSO's festival residencies.

  • Classical Corner: Podium debuts at Ravinia

    July 30, 2015

    Ravinia gala benefit evening: The festival rolls two of its biggest annual attractions into one, the women's board fundraising gala and the Tchaikovsky spectacular. James Conlon conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in selections by the Russian master, including a suite from "Swan Lake" and the Violin Concerto, with Maxim Vengerov as soloist. The inevitable "1812 Overture" concludes the program, thunderously. 7 p.m. Saturday, Ravinia Festival, Lake-Cook and Green Bay Roads, Highland Park; $25-$100, $10 lawn; 847-266-5100 or

  • Going backstage with Lyric Opera's 'Bel Canto' composer

    July 28, 2015

    The countdown for "Bel Canto" continues.

  • James Conlon begins final tour of CSO duty at Ravinia on a high note

    July 23, 2015

    James Conlon no doubt will miss many things about Ravinia when he steps down next month after 11 summers as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's annual festival residencies. One thing he probably won't miss are the Metra commuter trains that perversely obliterate or interrupt the music-making, almost as if on cue.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    July 23, 2015

    Woodstock Mozart Festival: Conductor Brian Groner leads the orchestra in its 29th season opener. His program includes Mozart's "Prague" Symphony and Beethoven's Triple Concerto, with pianist Mykola Suk, violinist Kevin Case and cellist Nazar Dzhuryn as soloists. The festival runs weekends through Aug. 9, also in Barrington Hills. 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock; $33-$58; 815-338-5300;

  • Paul Freeman, longtime Sinfonietta director, dead at 79

    July 23, 2015

    One of a handful of African-American conductors who was able to break through the glass ceiling of American symphonic music a generation ago, Paul Freeman made the Chicago Sinfonietta, the midsized orchestra he founded in 1987 and remained at its helm for 24 years until he retired in 2011, a shining emblem of racial and cultural diversity across the classical music landscape.

  • James Conlon moves beyond Ravinia for a new beginning

    July 22, 2015

    The voice at the other end of the phone was unmistakably that of a man in a hurry.

  • Review: 'Madame Pompadour' a merry bedroom romp

    July 19, 2015

    Once again Chicago Folks Operetta has taken a Fall – that's Leo Fall – on behalf of an unjustly neglected Viennese operetta from the early years of the 20th century.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    July 16, 2015

    "Madame Pompadour": If you enjoyed Chicago Folks Operetta's previous productions of tuneful Viennese stage confections by Leo Fall, you're bound to like its take on "Madame Pompadour" (1922), a show considered to be the Austrian composer's masterpiece. The operetta launches the troupe's 10th anniversary season, sporting a new English translation by Gerald Frantzen and Hersh Glagov, conducting by Anthony Barrese and stage direction by Amy Hutchison. Opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Aug. 2, Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St.; $40, $35 for seniors; 773-342-4141,

  • Chicago Folks to the rescue of obscure operettas

    July 14, 2015

    When you occupy as specialized a niche in the area's classical scene as Chicago Folks Operetta, you just naturally try harder.

  • CSO's 'Fantasia' concert brings horde of classical novices to Ravinia

    July 13, 2015

    If the Chicago Symphony Orchestra must be conscripted for service as a soundtrack band to accompany Ravinia movie screenings, then at least give it classical music to perform.

  • 'God's tenor' Jon Vickers dead at 88

    July 12, 2015

    Canadian-born heroic tenor Jon Vickers, one of the great operatic singers of the 20th century and a compelling force of nature on stages throughout the world, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he sang many of his signature roles over a 26-year period, died Friday in Ontario, Canada.

  • Triumphant 'Porgy and Bess' launches CSO's Ravinia stint

    July 10, 2015

    George Gershwin's masterpiece, "Porgy and Bess," is a work seemingly tailor-made for warm, lazy, hazy summer nights at Ravinia.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    July 9, 2015

    Chicago Duo Piano Festival: The 27th annual event, sponsored by the Music Institute of Chicago, includes five public events, along with offering students coaching, lectures, master classes and recitals. Festival founders and directors Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem, music institute faculty and guest duo Chie Tsuyuki and Michael Rosenboom perform duo piano repertory. The festival runs through July 19. 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; tickets prices vary; 800-838-3006,

  • An unsparing portrait of Alma Mahler as wife, mistress and muse

    July 7, 2015

    German philosopher and social critic Teodor Adorno called her a "monster." Composer Richard Strauss saw in her "the inferiority complexes of a dissolute female." A Viennese acquaintance, Gina Kaus, dissed her as "the worst human being I ever knew." Marietta Torberg, the wife of Austrian writer Friedrich Torberg, described her as "a grande dame and, at the same time, a cesspool."

  • Review: An American classic is rescued by Kalmar, Grant Park Orchestra

    July 4, 2015

    Squeezed between two blockbuster music events over the holiday weekend – the opening salvo of the Grateful Dead farewell tour at Soldier Field, and the annual Independence Day blowout at Millennium Park – the Grant Park Orchestra concert on Friday night at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion could easily have been lost in the proverbial shuffle.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    July 2, 2015

    The Knights: The always remarkable soprano Dawn Upshaw joins the popular New York-based string ensemble for a program of vocal and instrumental works by Schubert, Dvorak, Luciano Berio, Gyorgy Ligeti and others. 7 p.m. Sunday, Martin Theatre, Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake Cook roads, Highland Park; $40-$60, $10 lawn; 847-266-5100,

  • Chicago-born opera 'Morning Star' shines powerfully

    July 2, 2015

    An opera project conceived some 15 years ago as a collaboration by Lyric Opera and the Goodman Theatre, only to be shelved when something went awry between the Chicago theaters, has finally found a home.

  • Review: Grant Park Chorus sings of the wonder, mystery of birth

    June 27, 2015

    The success of James MacMillan's “Quickening,” in its Midwest premiere by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus under Carlos Kalmar's direction Friday night at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, was all the more remarkable given the tribulations faced by the participants.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    June 26, 2015

    Grant Park Music Festival: Carlos Kalmar conducts the Midwest premiere of "Quickening" (1988), Scottish composer James MacMillan's unusually scored work for male vocal quartet, adult and children's choruses and orchestra, about conception, birth and life. Works by Wagner and Mendelssohn round out the program. 6:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; free, $25 for reserved seating; 312-742-7638,

  • CSO's Muti: Chicago 'must be aware of how important the orchestra is'

    June 23, 2015

    Herbert von Karajan, so goes the story, was hailing a taxi in Vienna. "Where to?" asked the driver. "Doesn't matter," replied the feared and foibled Austrian maestro. "They want me everywhere."

  • Berlin Philharmonic picks Kirill Petrenko

    June 22, 2015

    The Berlin Philharmonic has chosen Russian-born conductor Kirill Petrenko, general music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, to become its next chief conductor and artistic director, the orchestra announced Monday.

  • A tepid premiere on a chilly night at Millennium Park

    June 20, 2015

    Presenting just about any piece of symphonic music outdoors at Millennium Park, where concerts are thrown to the mercy of Chicago's capricious weather gods, can pose a formidable challenge for the Grant Park Orchestra.

  • Review: Muti closes season with Bates' magical, musical bestiary

    June 19, 2015

    Practiced man of the theater that he is, Riccardo Muti knows how to bring down a curtain with proper flourish. For the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's season finale this weekend, he is getting a huge assist in that regard from the two B's – Blackhawks and Bates.

  • Dry skies, higher ticket prices greet Grant Park Music Festival opening nighters

    June 18, 2015

    The Grant Park Music Festival likes to kick off its concert seasons at Millennium Park on a rather populist note before getting down to more serious artistic business later in the summer. Such was the case Wednesday night at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, where principal conductor Carlos Kalmar led his Grant Park Orchestra in a satisfying start to the 81st anniversary season.

  • Classical corner: CSO at Morton Arboretum

    June 18, 2015

    Grant Park Music Festival: Artistic director and principal conductor Carlos Kalmar leads the Grant Park Orchestra in the world premiere of American composer Kenji Bunch's commissioned Symphony No. 3 ("Dream Songs"), a choral symphony based on Native-American texts, sung by the Grant Park Chorus. The program also holds works by Mozart and Shostakovich. 6:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; free, $25 for reserved seating ; 312-742-7638,

  • St. Louis opera mounts a stylish 'Lionheart,' gripping 'Emmeline'

    June 16, 2015

    Every year around this time, national and international media attention centers around one of the Gateway City's most important cultural assets, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

  • Rush Hour reinvents itself for summer in the city

    June 15, 2015

    The sudden death in January 2014 of Deborah Sobol, the Chicago pianist who founded and directed the free weekly classical Rush Hour Concerts series from its inception in 2000, could easily have marked the demise of the series, so inextricably was it wedded to her artistic vision.

  • CSO's Russian symphonists get Muti's exacting touch

    June 12, 2015

    With Ravinia getting under way this weekend, and the 2015 Grant Park Music Festival season starting up next week, Chicago's classical music public is thinking summer.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    June 11, 2015

    Chicago Chorale: Artistic director Bruce Tammen directs musical meditations on loss, hope and peace, in the form of motets by Schutz, Bruckner, Arvo Part, Stephen Paulus, John Tavener and others. 8 p.m. Saturday, St. Vincent DePaul, 1010 W. Webster Ave.; $25-$40; 773-306-6195,

  • Sinfonietta's diversity mission shifts into high gear

    June 9, 2015

    Daring. Defiant. Different. That's how the Chicago Sinfonietta markets itself.

  • Morlot, CSO find their French musical groove

    June 5, 2015

    Whatever was behind Ludovic Morlot's erratic showing at the previous week's Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts, the second of the guest conductor's two programs, heard Thursday night at Symphony Center, marked a distinct improvement all around.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    June 5, 2015

    Northbrook Symphony Orchestra: The ensemble steps up its collaboration with the Music Institute of Chicago by featuring eight young soloists from the MIC Academy. The program, conducted by music director Lawrence Rapchak and Academy director James Setapen, includes music by Spohr, Mozart, Haydn and others. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; $30-$40; 847-272-0755, 800-838-3006;

  • 'Seamstress' a bit threadbare in CSO premiere

    May 29, 2015

    As if to try to atone for the shocking dearth of world premieres next season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is closing its current subscription series over the next four weeks with the first performances of two CSO-commissioned works, both by its resident composers.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    May 29, 2015

    Rembrandt Chamber Players: Harpsichordist Jory Vinikour is guest artist for the closing concert of the Chicago group's 25th anniversary season. "Rembrandt Music" by founding member David Schrader is featured, along with Tchaikovsky's sextet "Souvenir de Florence." 3 p.m. Sunday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St.; $35; 312-360-3145,

  • Legacy of CSO's resident composers resonates beyond Chicago

    May 26, 2015

    Take a close look at how Chicago's new music environment has evolved in the five seasons that Mason Bates and Anna Clyne have stood at its forefront, and you must conclude they've had a lot to do with making it a livelier, feistier, more inclusive scene. Folks on both coasts are paying attention as never before.

  • Salonen closes CSO's French Festival with Messiaen's glorious behemoth

    May 22, 2015

    Esa-Pekka Salonen is bringing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's French festival to an end quite literally with a bang.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    May 21, 2015

    Chicago Composers Orchestra: Matthew Kaspar concludes the ensemble's fifth season, and his own tenure as founding music director, with Estonian master Arvo Part's Symphony No. 4 and world premieres by Brian Baxter, Brandon Harrington and Scott Scharf. 8 p.m. Friday, St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron St.; $15-$

  • CSO hires new principal bassoon

    May 21, 2015

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra made it official on Thursday: Keith Buncke has been hired to replace David McGill as the orchestra’s principal bassoon, effective at the start of the CSO’s Ravinia residency on July 6.

  • Ten new classical albums featuring Chicago talent

    May 19, 2015

    New albums find Chicago classical musicians, ensembles and composers blazing new artistic paths, moving into unusual areas of the repertory, refusing to be pigeonholed. Here is a sampling of some of the more significant recent releases that reflect this trend:

  • Hail and farewell, Ars Viva Symphony

    May 18, 2015

    With Alan Heatherington about to trade his musical ministry for a religious ministry, it seemed appropriate that Ars Viva, the midsized symphony orchestra he founded in 1995 and built into one of the area's finest, should play its very last concert to a hall packed with acolytes.

  • Salonen, CSO plumb depths of Debussy's elusive score

    May 15, 2015

    You had to feel for Esa-Pekka Salonen.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    May 14, 2015

    Music of the Baroque: Music director Jane Glover closes the season by leading the chorus, orchestra and soloists in masterworks of peace and war: Handel's "Dettingen Te Deum" and Haydn's "Mass in Time of War." 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston; and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St.; $27-$75; 312-551-1414,

  • Ars Viva Symphony directors decide to go out on top

    May 12, 2015

    When a classical music group disbands, the cause almost invariably is financial — declining ticket sales and contributions, mounting deficits, rising costs, or some combination thereof. It's almost unheard of for any such organization to go out of business as long as fundraising and attendance remain strong and the artistic level remains high.

  • Showman or serious musician? Lang Lang a bit of both

    May 10, 2015

    The pianistic phenomenon known as Lang Lang continues to divide audiences. The Chinese supernova remains a hero to millions of fans worldwide, who thrill to his every appearance in concerts, stadiums and Grammy Award presentations. The devoted missionary work he has done on behalf of classical music speaks for itself.

  • Review: CSO's French festival begins with rare delicacies

    May 8, 2015

    It's news whenever the Chicago Symphony Orchestra moves out of its Austro-German comfort zone long enough to devote major attention to other areas of the repertory. But it's Big News when that repertory happens to be French – and French music the orchestra has never, or seldom, played before.

  • Classical Corner: Recommended concerts of the week

    May 7, 2015

    Chicago Choral Artists: Michael D. Costello directs a concert for spring and Mother's Day. Dominic DiOrio's "A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass," a cantata-concerto for choir, soprano and marimba, shares the program with works by Mendelssohn, Elgar and others. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W. Foster Ave.; and 4 p.m. Sunday, Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 W. Division St., River Forest; $20, $15 for seniors; 773-658-9799,

  • Parlez-vous French music? The CSO does, festively so

    May 6, 2015

    Not since the Jean Martinon era has the Chicago Symphony Orchestra enjoyed a particularly strong identification with French music. The orchestra's necessarily central allegiance to the Austro-German symphonic tradition has had much to do with that. So does the fact that none of Martinon's successors as music director has elected to probe the French repertory in any depth or breadth.

  • Stylish, intimate Bach worked like a charm

    May 3, 2015

    Johann Sebastian Bach's music is ever with us and, indeed, was much in evidence over the weekend in Chicago, what with Bach Week Festival performances at North Park University and at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, all of them involving ensembles of modern instruments.

  • Bicket's CSO program goes Bach to the future

    May 1, 2015

    One indication of how thoroughly absorbed into the general classical music culture the aesthetic of historically informed performance has become is the easy mastery with which many musicians shuttle between modern symphony orchestras and period-instrument ensembles.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    April 30, 2015

    Apollo Chorus of Chicago: Stephen Alltop directs the season finale, a global potpourri ranging from contemporary pieces by Arvo Part, James MacMillan and Eric Whitacre, to American folksongs and gospel music. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St.; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church, 149 W. Brush Hill Road, Elmhurst; $18-$80; 312-427-5620,

  • Summer festivals beckon classical music buffs

    April 28, 2015

    Once again, classical music-loving travelers will be faced with an abundance of listening choices at the hundreds of classical festivals that dot the Amerian summer landscape. The following is a selective guide to some of the more unusual and promising festivals, near and far. As always, performances and dates are subject to change and should be verified.

  • Opera review: COT's 'Coffin' a moving star vehicle for von Stade

    April 26, 2015

    Few opera greats of a certain age have been privileged to be granted quite the career coda Frederica von Stade has been enjoying in recent years. The beloved American mezzo-soprano was coaxed out of semi-retirement again last year to assume center stage in "A Coffin in Egypt," a one-act chamber opera written for her by Ricky Ian Gordon, with a libretto by Leonard Foglia based on the play by Horton Foote.

  • Bychkov, CSO make Bruckner's 80-minute journey gripping

    April 24, 2015

    Basking in the burnished glow of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's performance of Anton Bruckner's monumental Eighth Symphony on Thursday night at Symphony Orchestra, one found it hard to believe this was long thought to be a problem piece.

  • Recommended Chicago-area classical music performances

    April 23, 2015

    Avalon String Quartet: Pianist Christina Dahl joins the group for Brahms' Piano Quintet in F minor. Sharing the bill are works by Mozart and Wolfgang Rihm. 2 p.m. Sunday, Mendelssohn Hall, 406 N. Main St., Rockford; $25; 815-964-9713,

  • Composer Ricky Ian Gordon has found his place at opera's table

    April 21, 2015

    One of the things that makes Ricky Ian Gordon's operas so appealing to audiences in so many places is the natural way his music embraces both classical and popular music theater idioms, folding one into the other. What the New York-based composer calls his "hybrid" sound is lyrical in an open-hearted, distinctly American way that suits his subject matter.

  • Evgeny Kissin regales fans with masterful Chopin and more

    April 20, 2015

    Evgeny Kissin's more or less annual recital appearances are invariably among the most highly anticipated events of Chicago's classical music season, and the audience turnout for the Russian piano virtuoso's concert Sunday afternoon at Orchestra Hall was true to precedent.

  • Russian guests ride to a triumph with Russian repertory at CSO

    April 17, 2015

    You could hardly find greater musical contrasts in Russian symphonic music than in the two works that make up the first program of Semyon Bychkov's two-week spring residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    April 16, 2015

    Chicago Philharmonic: The Highland Park-based Mexican pianist Jorge Federico Osorio performs Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand and Falla's "Nights in the Gardens of Spain." Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" and "La Mer" serve as program bookends, with Scott Speck conducting. 7 p.m. Sunday, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston; $25-$75; 312-957-0000,

  • When community service becomes a 16-day music festival

    April 14, 2015

    Over the next three weeks, one of the Midwest's and the nation's leading music schools is kicking up its commitment to community service a couple of notches.

  • Concert celebrates creative vitality of new Polish music

    April 11, 2015

    Each year since 2005, Access Contemporary Music and the Chicago group's imaginative director, Seth Boustead, have worked with emerging composers from around the world on a commissioning project, Composer Alive, whose format is ideally suited to the digital age.

  • Haitink's insights make for memorable Mahler with CSO

    April 10, 2015

    For a work that for many years was the least-often performed of Gustav Mahler's nine completed symphonies, the Seventh Symphony has turned up with surprising regularity here, there and just about everywhere in the classical world.

  • Danzmayr to leave Illinois Phil

    April 9, 2015

    Austrian conductor David Danzmayr will step down as music director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of the 2015-16 season, his fourth with the south suburban ensemble, the orchestra announced Thursday.

  • Recommended Chicago-area classical music concerts

    April 9, 2015

    Access Contemporary Music: The group's yearlong "Composer Alive: Poland Project" culminates in the premiere of Polish composer Agnieszka Stulginska's "Dance With My Breath," along with works by Marta Ptaszynska and other contemporary Polish composers. 7 p.m. Friday, Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.; $20, $8 for seniors; 773-777-8898,

  • Shulamit Ran may be retiring but her music continues

    April 7, 2015

    Shulamit Ran remembers very well how she came to be hired as a professor of music at the University of Chicago.

  • World premiere mariachi opera is all heart

    March 29, 2015

    "El Pasado Nunca Se Termina" ("The Past Is Never Finished"), the new mariachi opera that received its world premiere Saturday night at the Civic Opera House, has all the sweetness and tang of a freshly made margarita, right down to the salt around the edges.

  • De Waart takes care of business capably with CSO

    March 27, 2015

    The most valuable pinch-hitter on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra podium in recent years? That's an easy one: Edo de Waart.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    March 26, 2015

    Chicago Chorale: Bruce Tammen directs the chorus, soloists and a period-instrument orchestra in a Palm Sunday performance of J.S. Bach's monumental "St. Matthew Passion." 3 p.m. Sunday, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.; $30-$40;

  • Pierre Boulez gets an homage from MusicNOW

    March 24, 2015

    Mason Bates and Anna Clyne offered their usual cheery greetings to the audience, along with two of the pieces performed on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW contemporary program Monday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

  • Harris Theater's 2015-16 schedule: more classical music

    March 23, 2015

    Looking ahead to the planned unveiling this fall of its newly expanded Randolph Street lobby and other physical improvements, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance has announced a significantly expanded season of classical music events for 2015-16.

  • 'St. John Passion,' Rising Stars concert lifts voices and hearts

    March 22, 2015

    Those listeners for whom it would not be a proper Lenten season without a performance of at least one of the Bach Passion settings are twice blessed this year. The Chicago Chorale will present a period-instrument version of the "St. Matthew Passion" on Palm Sunday at Rockefeller Chapel in Hyde Park.

  • Yo-Yo Ma's cello bravura on full display at CSO

    March 20, 2015

    Yo-Yo Ma's well-known zeal to take on multiple musical projects has made the superstar cellist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra creative consultant and chief Citizen Musician an invaluable resource for the orchestra as well as the cultural life of the city in general.

  • Chicago classical music recommendations

    March 19, 2015

    Chicago Bach Project: Conductor John Nelson's cycle of J.S. Bach's sacred choral masterpieces this year comes round to the dramatic "St. John Passion," with the Chicago Bach Choir and Orchestra, and vocal soloists that include Nicholas Phan as the Evangelist and Stephen Morscheck as Jesus. The choir under Donald Nally will begin the program with James MacMillan's "Alpha and Omega." 7:30 p.m. Friday, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St.; $25-$55; 312-334-7777,

  • Adrian Da Prato, long-serving CSO musician, dies at 94

    March 18, 2015

    Adrian Da Prato, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's violin section from 1946 until his retirement from the CSO in 1996, died on Tuesday in Chicago, according to a statement released by the orchestra on Wednesday. He was 94.

  • Spahlinger festival the best-kept musical secret in town

    March 18, 2015

    What if they gave a new-music party and hardly anybody showed up?

  • Lyric woos Latino audiences with a second mariachi opera

    March 17, 2015

    Near the end of his tenure as general director of Houston Grand Opera, Anthony Freud wanted to bring his institution and that city's large Mexican community closer together. So he took a chance and commissioned what was, as far as anyone could tell, the world's first mariachi opera.

  • Opera review: Haymarket Opera Company's 'Don Quichotte'

    March 14, 2015

    In its four seasons, Chicago's Haymarket Opera Company has staked out an enviable corner of the period-performance turf and, in the process, built an avid following, eager to experience the latest Baroque rarity rescued from oblivion by artistic director Craig Trompeter.

  • Dutoit's French program with CSO delights in the details

    March 13, 2015

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is giving special attention to French music this season, via a survey of Gallic composers that will culminate in a three-week festival in May emphasizing French operatic and dramatic works.

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    March 12, 2015

    Pierre-Laurent Aimard: The brilliant French pianist is joined by pianist Tamara Stefanovich as they celebrate master composer and conductor Pierre Boulez's 90th birthday with a concert containing virtually all his piano works. 3 p.m. Sunday, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $25-$50; 312-294-3000,

  • Harpsichordist Jory Vinikour brings his star power to U.S.

    March 10, 2015

    He is a virtuoso harpsichordist, conductor, accompanist and coach who collaborates with some of the leading figures of the European and American early music brigade. He appears regularly as a concerto soloist, in repertory ranging from J.S. Bach to Michael Nyman. Both of most recent recordings as harpsichordist were nominated for Grammy awards.

  • Concert review: Cellist Ma, Silk Road connect the multicultural dots

    March 7, 2015

    "We are getting old," sighed cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the start of the concert by his Silk Road Ensemble Friday night at Symphony Center, part of the multinational group's 15th anniversary tour. But nobody among the packed Orchestra Hall throng took that remark seriously.

  • Muti concludes CSO winter residency on upbeat note

    March 6, 2015

    The program with which Riccardo Muti is closing out his winter residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend at Symphony Center reveals three different sides of the music director, in three contrasting areas of the repertory. The satisfying results were a reminder of what one of today's most brilliant partnerships in symphonic music can achieve when all systems are go.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    March 4, 2015

    Bella Voce Camerata: The one-voice-per-part vocal ensemble under Andrew Lewis is joined by the Chicago period-instrument group Ars Antigua for an unusual coupling of Stabat Mater settings from the 18th and 20th centuries, by Giovanni Pergolesi and Arvo Part. 7:30 p.m. Friday, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman Ave., Evanston; and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, St. Clement Parish, 642 W. Deming Place; $30-$38; 877-755-6277,

  • Yo-Yo Ma: Let the global block parties continue

    March 3, 2015

    Yo-Yo Ma has long been one of the most recognizable classical musicians on the planet and, like Riccardo Muti, one of today's most committed spokesmen for the essential role of culture in society. Now that the superstar cellist and Chicago Symphony Orchestra creative consultant is nearing 60, he might be excused for wanting to step back a bit and pass the heavy lifting along to others.

  • Hui He boosts Lyric's 'Tosca'

    March 2, 2015

    With 10 performances remaining before Lyric Opera closes out its primary season, the company is finding that even a standard crowd-pleaser such as "Tosca" can no longer be relied upon to sell out the 3,400-seat Civic Opera House — hence the blizzard of ads heralding the return of the Puccini favorite to the winter repertory.

  • Review: 'The Property' by Lyric Unlimited

    February 26, 2015

    How strong is Lyric Opera's belief in "The Passenger" as an artistic and historical document? So strong that the company is surrounding its splendid performances of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Holocaust-themed opera with a host of related discussions, orchestral and chamber music concerts, a film screening and other events given under the auspices of its Lyric Unlimited program.

  • Recommended classical concerts of the week in Chicago

    February 26, 2015

    Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra: Concertmaster David Taylor is joined by his stand mate, violinist Ilya Kaler, for double concertos by J.S. Bach and Malcolm Arnold. Music director Alan Heatherington will also lead works by Grieg and Elliott Carter. 3 p.m. Sunday, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; $30-$75, $16-$75 youth; 855-277-8482,

  • Review: 'The Passenger' by Lyric Opera

    February 25, 2015

    Perhaps the most affecting moment among many such moments at the Midwest premiere of composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg's "The Passenger," Tuesday night at Lyric Opera, came after the cast and creative team had taken their bows on stage at the Civic Opera House.

  • 'Dead Man' is wrenching music drama in first full area staging

    February 24, 2015

    Until Northwestern University did the honors last weekend, Chicago was virtually the last major American city not to have seen a fully staged production of Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking."

  • Review: 'Therese Raquin' has area premiere by Chicago Opera Theater

    February 21, 2015

    French novelist Emile Zola's naturalistic masterpiece of 1867, "Therese Raquin," teems with so many of the juicy elements on which opera feeds – try adulterous passion, murder, guilt and suicide, for starters – that you have to wonder why the book (and Zola's subsequent adaptation of the novel as a stage play) had to wait more than 130 years to be retooled for the lyric stage.

  • Muti is back with the CSO, weighty Mozart Requiem in tow

    February 20, 2015

    Riccardo Muti may be a strict constructionist when it comes to his beloved Giuseppe Verdi, but with respect to Mozart's music, his interpretations harken to performance attitudes beloved of earlier generations of great European musicians, especially those immersed, as he is, in the traditional Viennese Mozart style.

  • Recommended classical music concerts

    February 19, 2015

    Avi Avital and David Greilsammer: The popular mandolinist and pianist collaborate on a program ranging from Bach and Mozart to Bartok and Arvo Part. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Logan Center for the Performing Arts, University of Chicago, 915 E. 60th St.; $25; 773-702-2787,

  • 'The Passenger' is haunted by the ghosts of Auschwitz

    February 17, 2015

    Mieczyslaw Weinberg has only recently emerged from the dark shadows to which his vast musical output was consigned during and after World War II.

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    February 12, 2015

    Rembrandt Chamber Players: The radiant Chicago soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg performs selections from Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne," on the same program as works by Mozart, Schumann and Chicago composer Sebastian Huydts. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; and 7:30 p.m. Monday, PianoForte Foundation, 1335 S. Michigan Ave.; $10-$35; 312-360-3145,

  • Review: Grand singing lifts 'Tannhauser' at Lyric Opera

    February 10, 2015

    Of all the mature operas of Richard Wagner, "Tannhauser" requires perhaps the greatest indulgence from all but the most uncritical of Wagnerites.

  • At COT and NU, it's a perfect storm of recent American operas

    February 10, 2015

    When was the last time you witnessed the Chicago-area premieres of two operas by living American composers within the same nine-day period?

  • Goerne, van Zweden illuminate song rarities with CSO

    February 6, 2015

    The distinction between public and private kept coming to mind Thursday night at Symphony Center as I listened to the superbly musical German baritone Matthias Goerne taking the Chicago Symphony Orchestra audience through an unusual and deeply rewarding program of orchestrated German lieder.

  • Classical music concert recommendations

    February 5, 2015

    Chicago a cappella: The vocal ensemble under principal guest music director John William Trotter is joined by the Ensemble Espagnol Spanish Dance Theater for a tapestry of classical and popular music from Mexico, Spain, Cuba and South America. Ole! 8 p.m. Saturday, Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; and 4 p.m. Sunday, Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago, 915 E. 60th St. (repeated Feb. 13 in Oak Park, Feb. 15 in Naperville); $12-$38; 773-281-7820,

  • Andrew Patner, longtime Chicago writer, dies

    February 3, 2015

    Although writing, broadcasting and blogging about classical music were Andrew Patner’s chief métier, his interests took in many subjects cultural and literary.

  • With Goerne, the art of lieder singing is in caring hands

    February 3, 2015

    One keeps hearing dire rumblings about the alleged death of German lieder singing, but this rarefied art form keeps demonstrating more than enough resilience to silence, or at least mute, the prophets of doom.

  • Recommended classical music concerts

    January 29, 2015

    St. Olaf Choir: The famed collegiate chorus under director Anton Armstrong presents the first of two concerts it will give in the area this winter. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St. (repeated Feb. 14, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston); $20-$40; 800-363-5487,

  • Riccardo Muti: The CSO should perform in Cuba

    January 27, 2015

    Riccardo Muti may be unhappy about the present state of the world but he exudes absolute confidence in the place of respect he and his Chicago Symphony Orchestra hold in that world.

  • CSO goes back to the future for 2015-16

    January 26, 2015

    Like some, though not all, of the top U.S. orchestras, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra always has been more comfortable glorying in its past than embracing its future.

  • Opera review: Lyric Opera's grim 'Tosca'

    January 25, 2015

    Lyric Opera's imperishable love affair with Puccini's "Tosca" goes back as far as the company's inaugural season in 1954. Some of the greatest sopranos of their day have loved, killed and leapt through the title role here. Such are the vocal and dramatic thrills of this great opera that even audience members who have seen it umpteen times keep returning for more.

  • Muti introduces CSO audience to Scriabin curiosity

    January 23, 2015

    At this midpoint of his fifth season as music director, Riccardo Muti appears to be much less interested in introducing Chicago Symphony Orchestra audiences to important new music than bringing them oddball older repertory that has held personal significance for him throughout his long conducting career. He again dipped into his bag of unusual repertory Thursday night at Orchestra Hall.

  • Chicago area classical music picks

    January 22, 2015

    Contempo: The University of Chicago's contemporary music collective celebrates its 50th anniversary with world premieres by the late Lee Hyla, Huck Hodge and John Eaton, along with music of two artistic directors, Shulamit Ran and founder Ralph Shapey. Eaton and Ran will take part in a preconcert discussion followed by a documentary film. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Logan Center for the Performing Arts, Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.; $25; 773-702-2787,

  • Rising conductor Dmitri Jurowski is keeping it in the family

    January 20, 2015

    When Lyric Opera opens a new-to-Chicago production of "Tosca" on Saturday night at the Civic Opera House, a conductor with a relatively familiar name – Jurowski – will be leading Puccini's ever-popular melodrama.

  • Mixed-bag MusicNOW concert not always on track

    January 20, 2015

    Contemporary works that allude to, or directly draw upon, sources of inspiration beyond themselves are tricky things to bring off. The music must be strong enough to stand on its inherent merits, since allusiveness all by itself carries little to no weight.

  • 'Victrola' transmits opera magic to young ears

    January 18, 2015

    Of the three original presentations Lyric Opera has presented thus far to open the world of opera to young children, "The Magic Victrola" proved that the third time was the charm.

  • Review: Muti begins CSO residency with warming Tchaikovsky

    January 16, 2015

    You might call it the lull before the storm, except that nothing is exactly quiet around Orchestra Hall when Riccardo Muti is back leading his Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    January 15, 2015

    'The Magic Victrola': Lyric Unlimited's third annual presentation designed to introduce youngsters 5-10 and their families to the joys of opera takes two children on a journey through famous opera scenes, courtesy of an old record player in their grandfather's attic. Members of Lyric Opera's Ryan Opera Center are featured. 3 p.m. Saturday, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; $20-$40; 312-827-5600,

  • Virgil and Lenny: Their words about music defined an era

    January 13, 2015

    They don't make American icons like Virgil Thomson and Leonard Bernstein anymore.

  • Brian Jagde replaces Didyk in Lyric's 'Tosca'

    January 12, 2015

    American tenor Brian Jagde will replace the previously announced Misha Didyk as Mario Cavaradossi in the first cast of Lyric Opera's production of Puccini's "Tosca," running Jan. 24 to Feb. 5 at the Civic Opera House.

  • Concert review: Mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and pianist Angela Hewitt

    January 12, 2015

    The compelling Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter clearly thrives on collaborating with performers who share her musical intelligence and adventuresome spirit when it comes to exploring repertory of various styles and periods.

  • Lewis, Petrenko a potent duo for Beethoven with the CSO

    January 8, 2015

    The new year is bringing several shifts of administrative authority at the top of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's food chain. The possibility of exciting new ideas, new directions, is in the air. On stage at Orchestra Hall this week, a different sort of excitement prevails – the frisson of gifted young artists striking sparks off each other and the orchestra, and making music that truly engages the audience.

  • Recommended classical music concerts

    January 8, 2015

    Winter Chamber Music Festival: The 19th annual edition of the popular series begins with the New Orford String Quartet playing Beethoven's Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Brahms' Quartet No. 1 and Gary Kulesha's String Quartet; 7:30 p.m. Friday. Germany's Dogma Chamber Orchestra performs string-orchestra works by Foote, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The six-concert festival continues through Jan. 25. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston; $24; 847-467-4000,

  • Sounds of summer beckon at Grant Park

    January 7, 2015

    While portents of change echo across the local summer music landscape, one hot-weather classical enterprise that remains impervious to change, justifiably so, is the Grant Park Music Festival.

  • From Pacifica to 'The Passenger,' plenty of classical music to offset winter's chill

    January 2, 2015

    Chicago's classical music producers typically reserve some of the most important events of their seasons for the period from January to early May. Here are 10 such performances, listed chronologically:

  • Legendary pianist, teacher Claude Frank dies at 89

    January 1, 2015

    Claude Frank, one of the most widely admired American pianists, teachers and chamber musicians of his generation, and a longtime faculty member at Ravinia's Steans Music Institute in Highland Park, died Dec. 27 at his home in New York, three days after his 89th birthday.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    December 31, 2014

    'Anna Bolena': Lyric Opera's vocally vibrant new production of Donizetti's bel canto masterpiece features Sondra Radvanovsky as the doomed Anne Boleyn, Jamie Barton as her rival Jane Seymour and John Relyea as Henry VIII. Patrick Summers conducts, Kevin Newbury directs. Through Jan. 16, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; $34-$244; 312-827-5600,

  • The highs and lows of classical music in 2014

    December 30, 2014

    It's the season to take stock of the year's musical blessings — also those people and performances that made 2014 not quite so blessed. In that spirit, we present our 38th annual Rheingold Awards. The envelopes, please.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    December 23, 2014

    New Philharmonic: Music director Kirk Muspratt is joined by tenor soloist John Irvin, of Lyric's Ryan Opera Center, to ring out the old and ring in the new, at the orchestra's annual New Year's Eve pops concerts. The festive program, to be presented three times on Wednesday, will include Strauss family favorites, themes from Hollywood film classics, a champagne toast and various surprises. WFMT-FM 98.7 will provide a live broadcast of the 5 p.m. performance. 1, 5 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn; $55-$65; 630-942-4000,

  • Chicagoan of the Year in Classical Music: Andreas Mitisek

    December 23, 2014

    Perhaps none of the performing arts has been walloped harder by the post-downturn economy than opera.

  • Bella Voce delivers glad tidings of the season

    December 22, 2014

    Area churches and concert halls have come alive all month with the seasonal sounds of comfort, joy and rejoicing. This year's abundance of Christmas concerts seems to speak directly to the zeitgeist: Audience members may well feel the need for the spiritual respite such music can provide as an unusually turbulent year limps to a close.

  • Soloist Cynthia Yeh, CSO end year literally with a bang

    December 19, 2014

    While some orchestras offer musical sugarplums at holiday time, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is giving its public a clear choice this year. The 20th and final annual edition of "Welcome Yule!" focuses on popular Christmas fare while the weekend subscription concerts carry more serious musical intent.

  • Standard CSO program takes on new vitality under Honeck

    December 12, 2014

    You could hardly have imagined a more textbook example of standard symphonic repertory than the program that brought Manfred Honeck back to the podium roster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Thursday night at Symphony Center.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    December 11, 2014

    Featured pick

  • Boustead's mission: Putting new classical music within reach of all

    December 9, 2014

    In concert, in the classroom, on the radio and over the Internet, Seth Boustead uses every available platform to spread the word that classical music is a living tradition, an art form of vast global-outreach potential that's thriving as perhaps never before.

  • Opera review: 'Anna Bolena'

    December 7, 2014

    Devotees of early Romantic Italian opera must have thought they had died and gone to bel canto heaven last week, when two masterpieces of that genre, neither of them overly familiar, opened in downtown Chicago within three days of each other.

  • CSO's Russian program yields mixed results under Metzmacher

    December 5, 2014

    Beneath the crisp and direct podium demeanor of Ingo Metzmacher lurks the sensibility of a music professor.

  • Noseda, Teatro Regio hit the mark with thrill-packed 'William Tell'

    December 4, 2014

    Timing is everything, sometimes.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    December 4, 2014

    Featured pick: Rembrandt Chamber Players: This season's "Holiday Baroque" program holds a Boccherini flute quintet, Bach's "Wedding" Cantata and Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." Guest artists are soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg and violinists David Perry, Kathleen Brauer and Sheila Hanford. 3 p.m. Sunday, Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Road, Evanston; $35; 312-360-3145,

  • Thinking inside the classical box

    December 3, 2014

    Some recommended classical boxed sets for gift-givers and receivers this holiday season:

  • Ten discs that made this a great classical year

    December 3, 2014

    Here are 10 classical albums of 2014 that especially brightened my listening year:

  • Rivals onstage, Lyric Opera stars are best of friends offstage

    December 2, 2014

    On a recent afternoon backstage at Lyric Opera, Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton were behaving like the gal pals they are, hugging each other and singing each other's praises.

  • Maestro Noseda keeps focus on Turin's 'William Tell' tour

    November 25, 2014

    Italian opera houses have been rocked in recent years by what appears to be a never-ending series of financial, managerial and labor crises that have given an embarrassing black eye to the country where opera was born.

  • Review: Kraemer brings stylish verve to CSO's Bach marathon

    November 21, 2014

    The idea of presenting Bach in bulk is not new but has gained currency in Chicago in recent months. Barely three weeks after the WFMT Bach Organ Project – a 10-concert series devoted to performances of the complete solo organ works of J.S. Bach – ran its course, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is devoting its weekend subscription concerts to all six of the master's "Brandenburg" Concertos, under Nicholas Kraemer's discreet but invigorating direction.

  • Lyric Opera revives a 'Porgy' of glory and grit

    November 18, 2014

    For decades Lyric Opera shunned "Porgy and Bess," ignoring George Gershwin's self-described folk opera until well after the Metropolitan Opera and other important companies had put the musical establishment's seal of approval on the once-controversial stage work.

  • For versatile Eric Owens, it's now sweet home Chicago

    November 18, 2014

    Eric Owens freely admits that as a young opera singer trying to build a career a couple of decades ago, he accepted just about every role that came along, grateful just to get the experience and the exposure.

  • Concert review: CSO presents a salute to Pierre Boulez

    November 15, 2014

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Beyond the Score series has been remiss in not exploring the music of living composers. Creative director Gerard McBurney made amends with his most recent presentation, "A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez," a program honoring the eminent composer and conductor in advance of his 90th birthday next March.

  • Boulez touch palpable in CSO concert, even with the master absent

    November 13, 2014

    The burgeoning career of Pablo Heras-Casado makes the young Spaniard one of Pierre Boulez's most successful conducting proteges. So it seems only fitting that a week of Chicago Symphony Orchestra programs honoring Boulez on his upcoming 90th birthday (the actual date is March 26 of next year) should be entrusted to him.

  • Chicago area classical music recommendations

    November 13, 2014

    Featured pick

  • Pierre Boulez to get a spot-on Chicago Symphony tribute

    November 11, 2014

    As the 90th birthday of Pierre Boulez in March 2015 draws nearer, there will be no shortage of musical tributes to the eminent modernist composer and conductor throughout the classical world.

  • CSO, Muti bid Europe farewell with Verdi Requiem

    November 2, 2014

    VIENNA – The Chicago Symphony Orchestra saved the best for last.

  • Connecting young and old through music, Vienna style

    October 31, 2014

    VIENNA – Talk about culture shock.

  • Muti the showman, Muti the mystic, enthrall CSO audience in Vienna

    October 30, 2014

    VIENNA – The applause rose, crested, gathered new energy, much like the restless surges of the Alexander Scriabin symphony Riccardo Muti and his Chicago Symphony Orchestra had ridden to victory just seconds before.

  • CSO launches Vienna residency with golden concert in a golden hall

    October 29, 2014

    VIENNA – You don't sneeze when Riccardo Muti is trying to build soft gradations of sound with his Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Golden sound of Musikverein is music to ears of Muti, CSO

    October 28, 2014

    Golden sound of Musikverein is music to ears of Muti, CSO One of the greatest-sounding concert halls in the world is about to host one of the great symphonic ensembles.

  • Recommended classical of the week

    October 23, 2014

    Bach Organ Project: The WFMT-sponsored cycle of the complete solo organ works of J.S. Bach concludes with two recitals. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, organists from the North Shore AGO chapter will perform at Alice Millar Chapel (1870 Sheridan Road, Evanston). At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Chicago AGO chapter members will conclude the series at Madonna Della Strada Chapel (1032 W. Sheridan Road). $25; 773-279-2120,

  • Haymarket troupe parlays small operas into big successes

    October 21, 2014

    Haymarket Opera Company is the most notable success story among the newer Chicago groups specializing in historically informed performances of pre-classical music.

  • A searing Shostakovich from Jurowski, London orchestra

    October 19, 2014

    While the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is away, the visiting orchestras will play.

  • Dufour off CSO's Europe tour, 'on leave'

    October 16, 2014

    Mathieu Dufour is to be replaced with a substitute principal flute for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s European concert tour this month and next under music director Riccardo Muti.

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    October 16, 2014

    Bach Organ Project: The WFMT-sponsored cycle of the complete solo organ works of J.S. Bach continues with David Schrader performing. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Rockefeller Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. The series runs through Oct. 26. $25; 773-279-2120,

  • ICE heats up Chicago's new music scene, at a Bucktown bar

    October 14, 2014

    If you want to hear live contemporary classical music in the Chicago area these days, you are far more likely to find it in out-of-the-way clubs and bars than in more sobersided downtown concert halls.

  • CSO reports fourth year of record sales, fundraising

    October 13, 2014

    A fourth consecutive year of record-breaking ticket sales and fundraising has put the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association on solid financial footing, this despite a shortfall of roughly $1.4 million between operating expenses and revenues.

  • Runnicles subs impressively at CSO concert

    October 10, 2014

    With a major European tour set to launch in less than a week, the last thing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra management needed was the sudden withdrawal of a guest conductor.

  • Chicago-area classical music recommendations

    October 9, 2014

    Bach Organ Project: The WFMT-sponsored series devoted to the complete solo organ works of J.S. Bach continues with two weekend recitals. Stephen Alltop performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Alice Millar Chapel (1870 Sheridan Road, Evanston). Michael Costello offers a recital at 3 p.m. Sunday at Grace Lutheran Church (7300 Division St., River Forest). The series runs through Oct. 26; $25; 773-279-2120,

  • REVIEW: 'Capriccio' by Lyric Opera of Chicago ★★★★

    October 8, 2014

    Renee Fleming has taken her time bringing one of her most celebrated operatic roles, Countess Madeleine in Richard Strauss' "Capriccio," to the company for which she serves as creative consultant.

  • Muti, CSO prepare for latest sweep through culture capitals of Europe

    October 7, 2014

    If it's Monday, it must be Warsaw.

  • Runnicles to replace Van Zweden with CSO

    October 6, 2014

    Scottish conductor Donald Runnicles will substitute for Jaap van Zweden as guest conductor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s subscription concerts Thursday, Friday and Sunday at Symphony Center. Van Zweden has withdrawn on the advice of his doctor, according to a statement released by the orchestra.

  • Muti concludes fall CSO term with Polish musical salute

    October 3, 2014

    Riccardo Muti is wrapping up his fall residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend with a program that begins and ends with pieces of Polish musical inspiration.

  • Dufour to leave CSO for Berlin

    October 1, 2014

    The esteemed woodwind section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra continues to be a choir in transition.

  • More delights than duds in MusicNOW series opener

    September 30, 2014

    The concert that opened the MusicNOW season Monday night at the Harris Music and Dance Theater also signaled a closing. Or at least the prelude to a closing. For 2014-15 will mark Mason Bates' and Anna Clyne's fifth and final season as Chicago Symphony Orchestra composers in residence and co-curators of the CSO's valuable contemporary music series.

  • King of the CSO? Riccardo Muti says no

    September 30, 2014

    Riccardo Muti was in a benign mood.

  • Lyric opens season with riveting new 'Don Giovanni' ★★★½

    September 28, 2014

    It's easy to see what attracted Robert Falls to staging Mozart's "Don Giovanni" at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

  • For Muti and CSO, quality of sound as important as quantity

    September 26, 2014

    Riccardo Muti's first full week of subscription concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center continues the music director's preparation of repertory he and the orchestra will be taking to five European countries in October and November.

  • Chicago-area classical music picks

    September 25, 2014

    Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra: Concertmaster David Taylor is the soloist, playing Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnole" on the season opener under the baton of music director Alan Heatherington. Dvorak's "Carnival Overture" and Brahms' Fourth Symphony complete the program. 3 p.m. Sunday, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; $32-$70; 855-277-8482,

  • Are Lyric audiences ready for a Jazz Age 'Don Giovanni'?

    September 25, 2014

    "Don Giovanni" has been a shining talisman for Lyric Opera of Chicago ever since it presented Mozart's masterpiece in two calling-card performances in February 1954. So successful was the maiden effort that Chicago opera lovers rallied behind the fledgling company for its first full season, which began nine months later. Since then, it's become a company tradition for Lyric to mount a new production of "Don Giovanni" to mark its major anniversaries, witness the Peter Stein staging with which Lyric opened its 50th anniversary season in 2004.

  • For openers, Chicago Philharmonic offers Danish novelties

    September 22, 2014

    The Evanston-based Chicago Philharmonic, which began its 25th anniversary season Sunday evening in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at Northwestern University, does things differently from other suburban professional orchestras.

  • Muti quits as Rome Opera conductor

    September 21, 2014

    Suddenly, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has Riccardo Muti almost entirely to itself.

  • A grand night to hear CSO, Tchaikovsky under the stars

    September 20, 2014

    Since Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have room in their packed schedule to present only one free concert a year for the general public, let every concert be as enjoyably done as their latest gift to the city and its citizens, given Friday evening at Millennium Park.

  • Muti begins CSO season with strong Beethoven 9th

    September 19, 2014

    Perhaps no work in the standard symphonic canon carries so lofty a sense of occasion as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

  • Muti's clout, prestige should make for a stable transition at the CSO

    September 16, 2014

    Riccardo Muti's towering authority, musical and otherwise, should reassure members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's extended family that stability and continuity will be maintained while management undergoes significant transition.

  • OPERA REVIEW: 'Macbeth' at the Harris Theater ★★★½

    September 14, 2014

    As far as most operatic buffs are concerned, there is only one musical setting of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" – the revised 1865 version of Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece.

  • Chicago's moving to the myriad beats of Latino music

    September 9, 2014

    What exactly is meant by the term "Latino music"?

  • Halcyon night, mixed vocal yield, at Lyric Opera's Millennium Park concert

    September 8, 2014

    Millennium Park, the city's lakefront garden of cultural delights, has for its 10 years proved to be an ideal summer place for Chicago's heavyweight classical organizations to drum up box office for their fall seasons while giving something back to the community as a free gift of music.

  • Fall bounty in new classical recordings

    September 5, 2014

    Here are some of the more noteworthy new classical recordings scheduled for release this fall:

  • Choral director seeks to expand yet stay true

    September 5, 2014

    With choral groups of every size, description and professional status vying for attention in and around Chicago, standing out from the pack often depends on how distinctive a niche each is able to carve out for itself.

  • Classical favorites and firsts for fall

    September 5, 2014

    There will be no power vacuum at Symphony Center this fall, once Riccardo Muti has entered the building. All eyes and ears will be on the big boss as he begins his fifth season as music director, his authority undimmed. Muti leads off his fall CSO residency with a free popular-appeal concert at Millennium Park that launches his seasonlong Tchaikovsky symphony cycle, a survey that will interface with a Muti-led Scriabin cycle later in the season. After three weeks of subscription concerts under his direction, the maestro and his musicians will depart on a three-week European tour in October and November, which is scheduled to begin in Warsaw and end in Vienna.

  • Can CSO's new chief fill Rutter's big shoes?

    September 3, 2014

    The appointment of Jeff Alexander as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, which the Tribune reported Tuesday and the CSOA confirmed following a board meeting Wednesday morning, surprised even veteran observers of the American symphony orchestra scene.

  • Classical recording label Cedille marks 25 years

    September 2, 2014

    For a quarter of a century, the feisty little indie label Cedille Records has stood out as a plucky survivor in a domestic classical recording business that has been buffeted by a slumping economy, vanishing retail stores, the inexorable advance of pop music and other factors.

  • Ravinia sets 2014-15 recital lineup

    September 2, 2014

    With several more concerts yet to go this week in Ravinia’s summer $10 BGH Classics recital series, the festival has gone ahead and announced the dozen classical, popular and jazz concerts that make up the series’ fall, winter and spring extension.

  • Ravinia music director James Conlon extends contract through 2015

    August 26, 2014

    Outgoing music director James Conlon and Ravinia are not rushing into any parting of the ways.

  • Lake Forest Symphony sets 2014-15 season

    August 20, 2014

    The Lake Forest Symphony under newly appointed music director Vladimir Kulenovic has announced the programs for its 2014-15 season. Kulenovic will conduct four of the five pairs of concerts.

  • Newberry goes for Baroque in 2014-15

    August 20, 2014

    The Newberry Consort, Chicago’s flagship early music ensemble, will present three programs for its 2014-15 season.

  • 'Don Giovanni' launches Ravinia's Mozart mini-fest in high style

    August 15, 2014

    Can you have too much Mozart?

  • Grant Park premiere honors composer's longtime love affair with Chicago

    August 12, 2014

    Unless I miss my guess, no American city has done more to advance a composer's international reputation than Chicago has done for William Bolcom in recent decades.

  • A diva in the twilight of her career inspires new song cycle, at Ravinia

    August 5, 2014

    Although composer Jake Heggie has focused the bulk of his creative energies on opera over the last couple of decades, between major projects he has returned again and again to his musical heart and soul – telling stories through song.

  • CSO's Martha Gilmer leaving to take San Diego post

    August 1, 2014

    The San Diego Symphony's announcement Thursday that it has hired Martha Gilmer, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's vice president for artistic planning and audience development, as its new chief executive officer, steps up the pressure on the CSO Association to fill not one but two important administrative posts before very many more months elapse.

  • Strauss highlights Proms concerts in London

    July 29, 2014

    LONDON – The BBC Proms proclaims itself as the greatest classical music festival in the world and does so with the confidence of knowing it's got the artistic goods to back up its sweeping claim.

  • Concert review: Susanna Malkki conducts the CSO at Ravinia

    July 17, 2014

    Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki is so greatly gifted that her presence on major podiums around the world proves the utter irrelevance of questions concerning gender.

  • Ars Viva sets 2014-15 concert season

    July 15, 2014

    The Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2014-15 concert season at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. All five Sunday afternoon programs will be conducted by music director Alan Heatherington.

  • The complete Bach solo organ works, in 10 concerts

    July 15, 2014

    The more than 200 solo organ works that bracket the prodigious composing career of Johann Sebastian Bach have long been every organist's Bible. Rare is the organ recital that doesn't include such favorites as the mighty "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" or the "Little" Fugue.

  • Millennium Park's impact on summer classical scene

    July 10, 2014

    The impact of Millennium Park and its gleaming, otherworldly outdoor concert hall, Pritzker Pavilion, on the area's summer classical music scene cannot be overstated.

  • Beethoven Festival, CCM must rethink their mission to survive

    July 8, 2014

    While funding woes are the root of the problems recently afflicting two esteemed Chicago musical institutions, the Beethoven Festival and the Chicago Chamber Musicians (CCM), there's another way of looking at those problems.

  • Concert review: Gabriel Cabezas victorious in Grant Park debut

    July 3, 2014

    Gabriel Cabezas is the latest classical performer to be tested in the crucible of Chicago's weird summer weather, only to emerge victorious from the experience.

  • PianoForte exit the latest blow to Beethoven Festival

    July 2, 2014

    The fortunes of Chicago's Beethoven Festival continue to crumble.

  • Reviews: Opera Theatre of St. Louis spring season

    July 1, 2014

    WEBSTER GROVES, MO. – These days, it seems that everything is an opera festival simply because the people who operate and sell a given enterprise say it is.

  • Lyric Opera reports banner year for ticket sales, revenue, fundraising

    June 30, 2014

    American opera producers such as New York City Opera (which suspended operations in October) and San Diego Opera (which in May rescinded a unanimous vote made by its board two months earlier to close the company) bemoan the difficulties of sustaining an expensive art form in dicey economic times.

  • Deborah Rutter looks back at 11 years leading the CSO

    June 24, 2014

    On Monday, one month shy of serving 11 years as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, Deborah F. Rutter will step down from her position to take on another high-profile managerial post, that of president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington D.C.

  • 'Klinghoffer' cancellation hijacks Met's artistic cred

    June 23, 2014

    The cowardly decision the Metropolitan Opera announced last week to cancel its scheduled "Live in HD" transmission on Nov. 15 of its production of composer John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer" will deprive potentially tens of thousands of viewers in movie theaters around the world of the chance to see the controversial opera and make up their own minds about it.

  • Concert review: Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in season finale

    June 20, 2014

    Seldom has the Chicago Symphony Orchestra closed its season in such a jubilant mood as the one that gripped a packed Orchestra Hall on Thursday night.

  • CSO receives $32 million in foundation gifts, the largest in its history

    June 12, 2014

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced at its board meeting Thursday afternoon that two Chicago philanthropic institutions, the Zell Family Foundation and the Negaunee Foundation, have given the parent body of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra the largest gifts in its 123-year history -- $17 million from the Zell foundation and $15 million from Negaunee.

  • Lyric adds two world-premiere operas for 2015

    June 12, 2014

    Lyric Opera of Chicago will present the world premieres of two commissioned operas in 2015 as part of its Lyric Unlimited initiative to connect with a wider audience through the creation and performance of new works with broad appeal.

  • REVIEW: 'The Elixir of Love' by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis

    June 9, 2014

    St. LOUIS – From all evidence, a growing number of Chicago opera buffs rely on the Opera Theatre of St. Louis to help satisfy their cravings during the spring-summer dry spell when neither Lyric Opera nor Chicago Opera Theater is open for business.

  • Jane Lynch to host Lyric diamond gala

    June 4, 2014

    Jane Lynch is going operatic. The Dolton native and “Glee” star will emcee Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 60th anniversary concert, Nov. 1 at the Civic Opera House, the company announced Wednesday.

  • Lake Forest hires Kulenovic as conductor

    June 2, 2014

    The Lake Forest Symphony in north suburban Lake Forest on Monday named Vladimir Kulenovic as its new conductor, effective with the start of the 2014-15 season in September.

  • Inspirational pianist Irene Alexander dead at 94

    May 27, 2014

    Making music was Irene Alexander's inspiration as well as lifeline. It allowed her to forge ahead, say friends and family, through a string of misfortunes that would have felled an ordinary mortal.

  • Orchestras merge different cultures and genres, with mixed results

    May 13, 2014

    Concerts presented at Symphony Center over the last couple of evenings have found local symphony orchestras seeking to reinvigorate the classical concert hall experience, either by bringing popular culture into the mix, having different ethnic identities speak to each other on the program, or both.

  • New music mission continues for CSO's Bates, Clyne

    May 13, 2014

    It's a good time to catch up with Mason Bates and Anna Clyne. With new albums in release, multiple commissions in the works and performances here, there and everywhere, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's busy composers-in-residence aren't exactly standing around waiting for their phones to ring.

  • David McGill to leave CSO for teaching post at NU

    May 12, 2014

    David McGill, the esteemed principal bassoon of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the last 17 years, will resign his post in August to accept a fulltime teaching position at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

  • Concert review: Bernard Labadie conducts the CSO

    May 9, 2014

    Few of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's periodic forays into the era predating the standard symphonic repertory are as intelligently programmed and engagingly performed as the one Bernard Labadie is directing this weekend at Symphony Center.

  • A new opera takes shape behind scenes at the Lyric

    May 6, 2014

    No one expects the course of creating a brand-new opera to run absolutely smoothly, any more than the course of true love. Four hundred years of operatic history suggest it seldom does.

  • Concert review: von Dohnanyi conducts the CSO

    May 2, 2014

    This has been a banner week for Beethoven in downtown Chicago.

  • Review: David Finckel and Wu Han at Harris Theater

    April 30, 2014

    If nothing else, the large and enthusiastic audience that turned out for the final concert of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's third residency season, Tuesday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, was a rebuke to the doomsayers.

  • Fine Arts Society shows richness of Chinese culture

    April 29, 2014

    It began three decades ago as a small local competition designed to encourage Chinese music students to learn Chinese repertory along with the Western classical works their teachers were drumming into their young heads. Since then, it has grown into a much broader outreach effort to further a more general awareness of Chinese arts and culture.

  • Review: Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra at the Harris Theater

    April 28, 2014

    Now in his second season as music director, David Danzmayr is well on his way toward establishing his Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra as one of the leading suburban orchestras in the Chicago area. One way the gifted young Austrian conductor is achieving that is to offer programs that challenge his musicians even as they broaden the musical awareness of audience members. He scored a success on both fronts with the concert he led Saturday night.

  • Review: Mark Elder directs the CSO with flair

    April 25, 2014

    There are several reasons why Mark Elder has placed so high on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MVP list during the more than three decades he has been appearing here intermittently as a podium guest. One reason seems primary: The British conductor has a special flair for engaging the orchestra players, along with the audience, in programs that depart just enough from the prescribed playbook to make them feel fresh.

  • Bach Week Festival's marathon man back for another run

    April 22, 2014

    He may not have composed more than 1,100 musical works, nor has he fathered 20 children. Otherwise, Richard Webster has much in common with Johann Sebastian Bach.

  • Review: Leonard Slatkin conducts the CSO

    April 18, 2014

    As conductor Leonard Slatkin pointed out to the audience at Thursday night's Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at Symphony Center, it's likely his listeners were more familiar with the music of Mason Bates than that of William Schuman.

  • Leonard Slatkin ventures down memory lane of his Hollywood youth

    April 15, 2014

    Few people are lucky enough to be surrounded by as astonishing a diversity of music and musicians as conductor Leonard Slatkin was while growing up.

  • Review: Christian Tetzlaff plays Dvorak with CSO

    April 11, 2014

    One big reason why the symphonic programs Esa-Pekka Salonen puts together are so absorbing is the unsuspected musical resonances that tie together the diverse elements. So it is with the program that concludes the second of the Finnish conductor-composer's two subscription weeks with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend at Symphony Center.

  • Esa-Pekka Salonen on multi-tasking, Northwestern and the CSO

    April 8, 2014

    Perhaps Esa-Pekka Salonen's Nordic cool and Chicago's propensity for long, bone-chilling winters similar to those of his native Finland have destined this musician and this city to be soulmates.

  • Review: Itzhak Perlman at the Civic Opera House

    April 7, 2014

    There are less appropriate venues in the city in which to hold a violin recital than the Civic Opera House. Wrigley Field, for example, or the United Center. But the Opera House is problematic enough.

  • Review: Salonen begins CSO residency

    April 4, 2014

    Esa-Pekka Salonen's guest relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has spanned a remarkably productive 26 years. The period neatly brackets the composer and conductor's rise from being a relatively unknown golden boy of the baton to his achieving international eminence.

  • Byron Janis on his long battle with arthritis

    April 1, 2014

    Byron Janis is one of the most inspiring survivors in classical music.

  • Cantin, Bridges among Lyric's brightest rising stars of Ryan Opera Center

    March 30, 2014

    It seems rather a shame that Lyric Opera restricts admission to "Rising Stars in Concert," the company's showcase concerts by the young singers of its Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center professional development program, to donors and media members.

  • Riccardo Muti says future of music sounds flat

    March 25, 2014

    It's no secret by now that Riccardo Muti is a man of passionate convictions, especially when it comes to speaking out about the central importance of music to a civilized society. It's a trope central to the Italian maestro's very soul as a world-famous musician who bestrides several nations and several cultures.

  • Review: Riccardo Muti, CSO perform Schubert

    March 21, 2014

    It's an interesting coincidence that Riccardo Muti's spring residency at Symphony Center is beginning soon after the end of the Vienna Philharmonic's own residency in New York's Carnegie Hall, part of an extended festival of operatic and symphonic music there called "Vienna: City of Dreams."

  • Fleming, Kaufmann bring fans to their feet at first joint Lyric concert

    March 20, 2014

    No disrespect to soprano Renee Fleming, but the leading attraction of Lyric Opera's Subscriber Appreciation Concert in which she appeared Wednesday night was her co-star, German superstar singer Jonas Kaufmann, the hottest and most sought-after tenor in today's opera world.

  • A diva wannabe no longer, Amanda Majeski returns home to Mozart

    March 18, 2014

    Talk about an operatic career coming full circle.

  • Ars Viva Symphony treats audience to an English musical rarity

    March 17, 2014

    Concertgoers look to the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra to bring them unusual repertory, also thoughtful combinations of familiar and unfamiliar music, they cannot find in downtown Chicago. Music director Alan Heatherington has some of the area's finest symphonic players at his disposal – his small orchestra includes members of the Chicago Symphony – along with the skills to connect in an immediate way with instrumentalists and audience members alike.

  • Uchida launches CSO residency with intimate Mozart, Schubert

    March 14, 2014

    Well before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took up Pierre Boulez's ideas about ridding symphony concerts of their hidebound habits, Mitsuko Uchida was doing something similar at her annual appearances here, mixing and matching small and medium-sized works on the same program.

  • Ray Still, legendary CSO oboist and teacher remembered

    March 12, 2014

    Most oboe players are famous for being rather neurotic and even a bit crazy. The stereotype derives from all those long hours oboists spend making reeds and having to force air through an aperture no bigger than the eye of a medium-sized needle, all to produce a beautiful sound on a recalcitrant wind instrument.

  • Dal Niente, eighth blackbird make banner weekend for new music buffs

    March 10, 2014

    The annual appearances of the Chicago-based new-music sextet known as eighth blackbird on the MCA Stage series at the Museum of Contemporary Art are among the most anticipated events of the concert season. The ensemble's program over the weekend reflected the group's penchant for stylistic diversity and for championing of emerging talents among the younger generation of composers.

  • Haymarket Opera makes another foray into French baroque rarities

    March 4, 2014

    With Chicago Opera Theater now focusing on contemporary music theater works, the responsibility for introducing Chicago audiences to seldom-performed stage works from the 17th and 18th centuries rests on the Haymarket Opera Company. Since its debut in 2011, the Chicago troupe has dedicated itself to recreating this repertoire using historically informed stage direction, movement and design, and played by small ensembles of period instruments.

  • Pianist Kissin in commanding form in Schubert-Scriabin recital

    March 3, 2014

    The recital program given by Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin Sunday afternoon at Orchestra Hall added dimension to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's present cycle of the Schubert symphonies under Riccardo Muti. At the same time, it provided valuable insights into the keyboard music of Alexander Scriabin, whose mystical symphonies Muti and the orchestra will be exploring next season.

  • Even with Boulez absent, CSO's thoughtful program has the master's touch

    February 28, 2014

    Despite the earnest efforts of Pierre Boulez over the last 40 years or so to liberate symphony orchestras from the rigid confines of hidebound tradition – in terms of both repertory and how that repertory is presented to audiences – few if any other classical musicians in positions of such authority have taken up his ideas. And fewer still are likely to do so after him.

  • Third Coast contributes to 'youthquake' in city's new-music scene

    February 25, 2014

    Sitting in a packed house of excited, engaged young people at a concert by Third Coast Percussion last week in the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts, I was reminded how much the city's lively – and getting livelier all the time – new-music scene owes to the active involvement of this age group.

  • McGegan, Genaux bring verve to unusual CSO program

    February 14, 2014

    Nicholas McGegan has built his reputation as a Baroque and Classical period specialist largely on his 27 seasons as music director of the San Francisco-based period-instrument ensemble Philharmonia Baroque, although he actually is at home in music of all periods. Like his fellow Brits Jane Glover and Nicholas Kraemer at Music of the Baroque, he's perfectly adept at translating his expertise in the period realm to modern-orchestra performances. He is reminding local audiences of that fact with his concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this weekend and next week.

  • Grant Park Music Festival lineup revealed

    February 11, 2014

    Although it feels as if Chicago will be trapped under a polar icecap at least until the Bears head off to summer training camp, the promise that this, too, shall pass is underscored by the season announcements of the area’s two major summer music festivals.

  • CSO's Muti looks ahead to 6 more years in Chicago

    February 4, 2014

    Microphone in hand, working the room with his usual seasoned authority and quip-filled charm, Riccardo Muti insisted he is "not a sentimental man." He then proceeded to wax sentimental about his ongoing relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Muti to remain at CSO until 2020

    February 3, 2014

    Riccardo Muti has signed a new contract with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association as CSO music director, which will extend until August 2020.

  • Review: Muti begins CSO residency with exuberant premiere

    January 31, 2014

    Riccardo Muti strode briskly to the podium Thursday evening at Symphony Center, looking as if he were determined to make the most of his locally abbreviated winter residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  • Replacing Rutter: It pays to know the CSO's pedigree

    January 31, 2014

    Putting the search for Deborah Rutter's successor in historical perspective, a common thread emerges of challenges met, opportunities missed and varying responses to shifting economics and demographics outside the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Each executive director's successes and failures depended to a great extent on that person's management style and personality; who was music director at the time; how powerful that music director was; the nature of the board and board committee leadership; and many other factors.

  • 'Barber of Seville' director goes from Broadway to Lyric Opera

    January 28, 2014

    When Lyric Opera unveils its new production of Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" ("The Barber of Seville") on Saturday night, it will mark the company debut of Rob Ashford, yet another of this season's imports from the legitimate theater, Broadway and television who come to Chicago with little or no operatic staging experience.

  • Review: Von Otter, Ax launch Brahms series on a high artistic note

    January 27, 2014

    Given that the music of Johannes Brahms is so inescapably a part of every concert season in Chicago, an observer might wonder why Symphony Center would want to devote a special series to the German Romantic master. Pianist Emanuel Ax has just the answer, this season bringing us a series of three programs surrounding Brahms' piano, vocal and chamber music with – here's the twist – newly commissioned works inspired by Brahms' music.

  • Lyric-bound opera confronts Holocaust issues in strong U.S. premiere

    January 23, 2014

    HOUSTON – There is a growing catalog of music written in the aftermath of the Holocaust that attempts to grapple head-on with the ineffable horrors of the Nazi era. None has managed to secure a toehold in the regular repertory.

  • Claudio Abbado, former CSO principal guest conductor, dies at 80

    January 20, 2014

    Claudio Abbado, one of the most gifted and widely respected symphonic and operatic conductors of the latter half of the 20th Century, died Monday morning at his home in Bologna, Italy, after a long illness La Scala said. He was 80.

  • Rutter was CSO's fixed point in 2013

    December 25, 2013

    Any observer of administrative excellence at the top echelon of American symphony orchestras in 2013 had to conclude it was the Year of the Deborahs.

  • Tenor Calleja stands out in uneven new Lyric 'Traviata'

    November 21, 2013

    Verdi's "La Traviata" may be the most popular work in the entire Lyric Opera repertory, having appeared in 14 of the company's 59 seasons, beginning with its very first in 1954, when Maria Callas sang the title role. Given the familiarity of the story and its hit parade of beloved arias, some would imagine the work practically plays itself.

  • CSO reports small deficit, record ticket sales and fundraising

    October 24, 2013

    While other U.S. symphony orchestras are buffeted by budget shortfalls, declining attendance, labor unrest and other problems, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra continues on a steady financial course.

  • Ravinia sets 2013-14 Bennett Gordon lineup

    August 15, 2013

    With 14 concerts still remaining in its summer Bennett Gordon Hall series, Ravinia has gone ahead and announced the schedule for the series’ continuation in fall, winter and spring of 2013-14.

  • Ravinia previews CSO 2014 residency

    August 7, 2013

    With one more week remaining in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2013 residency at Ravinia, the festival has gone ahead and released selected program and artist details for next year’s CSO tour of duty at its summer retreat. The residency will run July 8-Aug. 17 and comprise 20 concerts over a six-week period.

  • Daniel Hope gives Vivaldi new life at Ravinia

    June 18, 2013

    On the face of it, it seems like a goofy idea: Recomposing Vivaldi's greatest hit – the ubiquitous "Four Seasons" – music almost everybody knows from its use in countless TV commercials and movie soundtracks, on elevators and over the phone while one is being kept on hold.

  • Lyric Opera signs off on busiest season ever

    June 18, 2013

    Lyric Opera's unprecedented effort this past season to make itself more generally relevant and to provide what general director Anthony Freud calls “a broader, deeper cultural service to more people around the city” appears to have paid off.

  • Riccardo Muti takes on German, Austrian masters, con brio

    June 14, 2013

    A Riccardo Muti residency at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is never entirely about making music. In this second of three season-ending weeks, for example, the music director has gone from directing a Verdi chorus at a riverfront park in Chinatown, to fielding questions from subscribers at a public Q&A. On Saturday he is to deliver the commencement address for the DePaul University School of Music which is awarding him an honorary doctorate.

  • Grant Park chorus master readies singers for a busy festival summer

    June 11, 2013

    Having rolled out some pretty heavy artillery to mark the 50th anniversary of the Grant Park Chorus and other musical milestones last summer, what will the 2013 Grant Park Music Festival do for an encore?

  • Dale Clevenger makes last appearance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    June 11, 2013

    Nineteen days ahead of his official retirement date, Dale Clevenger appeared for the last time as principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Tuesday night’s subscription concert in Orchestra Hall. Riccardo Muti conducted.

  • Riccardo Muti launches season-ending CSO residency with a blast of Scriabin

    June 7, 2013

    Just when you thought it was safe to dip your toe into summer music, along comes Riccardo Muti to say, "Not so fast." The winter classical music season has, insofar as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is concerned, three more weeks to run.

  • From freaky to frisky, MusicNOW finale makes contrasting styles cohere

    June 4, 2013

    The openness of MusicNOW series curators Mason Bates and Anna Clyne to divergent styles of contemporary composition can cut both ways. On some occasions it can produce stylistic hodgepodges that add up to less than the sum of their components. On other occasions it can yield programs whose contrasting elements set off each other's distinctive musical virtues in ways that are bracing to both ear and mind.

  • A festive summer for classical music lovers

    June 4, 2013

    It's that time of year again, time to check out some of the more artistically enterprising U.S. summer classical music festivals. Whether it's a world premiere, an unusual opera, an orchestral or chamber rarity, or a gifted young artist seeking exposure in the off-season, it's all out there for the music-loving traveler. As always, programs and dates are subject to change and should be verified. Happy alfresco listening!

  • Chicago summer classical music preview: Ravinia, 'Aida' and Carlos Kalmar

    May 30, 2013

    This is one summer when local classical music lovers — and this means you — may want to skip the usual out-of-town cultural expeditions, avoid the hassles of air and car travel, and simply take advantage of the listening bounty that awaits right here on the city's doorstep. A great many concerts cost nothing, including the Grant Park Music Festival, the weekly Rush Hour Concerts at St. James Cathedral in downtown Chicago and the Rush Hour-produced Make Music Chicago, a daylong, citywide celebration June 21.

  • Carlos Miguel Prieto takes CSO audience on a supercharged travelogue

    May 24, 2013

    Enough tremors were unleashed by a huge battery of percussion instruments at Thursday night's Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert that management may wish to have the auditorium walls checked for cracks once the dust from the weekend concerts has settled.

  • Chicago classical music ensemble Dal Niente gets fierce

    May 21, 2013

    A couple of years ago Ensemble Dal Niente trumpeted its mission as presenting "the fiercest music of recent decades." The Chicago-based group of super-musicians still focuses on championing, commissioning and performing some of the most uncompromising scores being written today, but lately has been fine-tuning its modus operandi to bring a wider spectrum of listeners into the fold.

  • Duke Ellington rarity to launch Chicago Opera Theater season

    May 17, 2013

    With one opera (Verdi’s “Giovanna d’Arco”) wrapping up its 2013 season in September, Chicago Opera Theater has announced its schedule for 2014.

  • Boston Symphony Orchestra names Andris Nelsons music director

    May 16, 2013

    After a more than two-year search for a successor to James Levine, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Thursday that Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons will become its next music director, in 2014.

  • Camerata Chicago a small orchestra with big dreams

    May 15, 2013

    Camerata Chicago is the best local chamber orchestra you've probably never heard of.

  • Civic Orchestra doesn't need a conductor to play inspired Beethoven

    May 14, 2013

    The performance did not take place quite in the manner Yo-Yo Ma had envisioned for the young members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. But that was much less important than the skills the newly empowered players took away from the experience. And the musical results from the audience's standpoint were little short of amazing.

  • Chen honors long-neglected composer

    May 10, 2013

    A conductor who understands the challenges female musicians of color face is leading the first Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances this week of a work by a black woman composer who faced similar obstacles during her lifetime.

  • Chamber society offers eloquent homage to Britten's centennial

    May 9, 2013

    The flood tide of Benjamin Britten performances honoring the great British composer's centenary has barely begun. Both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Chamber Musicians are planning major observances beginning in the fall, and others are certain to follow as we approach Britten's actual 100th birthday in November.

  • Ambitious Beethoven fest wants listeners to feel the 'love'

    May 8, 2013

    Ludwig van Beethoven was forever pushing boundaries, and the annual Chicago festival that bears the composer's name continues to do the same, even more so than in the past.

  • CSO series explores connections between nature and culture

    May 7, 2013

    For ages, mankind has been fascinated by rivers, not simply as natural resources and avenues of commercial conveyance, but also as symbols, metaphors and ideas. Countless artists, composers, writers and thinkers have pondered the significance of these wondrous bodies of water and how they impact on culture, society, geopolitics and, closer to our own time, the very future of our planet.

  • CSO presents mixed bag of French, Spanish fare

    May 3, 2013

    After devoting the three weeks of Riccardo Muti's spring residency mainly to core Austro-German repertory, the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra probably were in need of a change of pace. And so, for that matter, were audience members.

  • For pianist Osorio, passion drives a life in music

    April 30, 2013

    Jorge Federico Osorio knows firsthand the power of classical music to move young minds and hearts.

  • Marathon finish for masterful Evgeny Kissin

    April 29, 2013

    The last several days have brought a feast of major-league piano playing to Symphony Center, courtesy of keyboard virtuosos born 30 years apart.

  • 'Oklahoma!' comes sweepin' into Lyric Opera

    April 26, 2013

    If ever a musical theater work deserved its exclamation point, it's “Oklahoma!”

  • Riccardo Muti bids CSO arrivederci with rewarding program

    April 26, 2013

    Famed virtuoso pianists of different generations are passing through the hallowed halls of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this week, giving the box office a jolt of starpower beyond what Riccardo Muti already has been providing.

  • Riccardo Muti: Illnesses behind him, CSO director wraps up spring residency

    April 23, 2013

    "Any donkey can conduct, but to make music is difficult," Riccardo Muti told the young members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago at an open rehearsal last week at Symphony Center.

  • Muti warms the Classical contours of Mozart, Beethoven with CSO

    April 19, 2013

    Every so often Riccardo Muti likes to remind the local concert public that his Chicago Symphony Orchestra isn't just a superb instrument for the big Romantic, late Romantic and 20th century repertory. It plays Classical-era works with the same dedication, proficiency and, you might say, pride of ownership. The program of Mozart and Beethoven symphonies the maestro conducted Thursday night at Symphony Center served as another of those reminders.

  • 'Maria de Buenos Aires' at Chicago Opera Theater: Tango opera spills blood instead of cliches

    April 16, 2013

    Andreas Mitisek is only half-kidding when he says he's lost count as to exactly how many hats he will be sporting for the production of "Maria de Buenos Aires" his Chicago Opera Theater will open Saturday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

  • 'To Cross the Face of the Moon': Lyric's fusion of opera, mariachi brings crowd to its feet ★★★ 1/2

    April 8, 2013

    Nothing like the exuberant dazzle of mariachi to explode operatic stereotypes.

  • Anthony de Mare sends in the Sondheim, reimagined for piano

    April 2, 2013

    Stephen Sondheim's music has been an essential part of Anthony de Mare's life as far back as he can remember. "I always felt there was something very unique, almost kind of transcendent, about his shows," the American pianist says today. "There was always this wonderful message in each one."

  • Though not blindingly original, 'Streetcar' music surprises

    March 27, 2013

    “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Andre Previn's adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, has come in for such scathing notices from some critics following its premiere by the San Francisco Opera in 1998 that one approached the Chicago premiere Tuesday night at the Civic Opera House, where it received a semi-staged production under auspices of Lyric Opera, expecting the worst.

  • Mariachi the heart and soul of Lyric's 'Cruzar'

    March 26, 2013

    The combination of opera and mariachi is not as unlikely as one might think. Both art forms, in the view of Lyric Opera General Director Anthony Freud, tell human stories about love and loss, family and country. Beyond that, said Freud, "mariachi is a unique, joyful, sorrowful cocktail that has the emotional immediacy of Puccini and a sound world as distinct as that of any great composer."

  • From hip-hop to Mozart, Sinfonietta readies eclectic fare for 2013-14 season

    March 19, 2013

    The Chicago Sinfonietta, an orchestra long committed to promoting diversity and inclusiveness on both sides of the footlights, is taking its venturesome programming up a notch beginning next season.

  • Renee Fleming brings 'A Streetcar Named Desire' to Lyric Opera

    March 15, 2013

    Divine destiny — or is it the shade of Tennessee Williams? — is bringing Renee Fleming and Blanche DuBois together on the same stage, at the same time, at Lyric Opera.

  • Ravinia Festival puts 'Passion' into summer classical lineup

    March 7, 2013

    The Ravinia Festival has announced the remainder of its programming for the 2013 summer season. The schedule comprises more than 120 classical, popular, jazz and dance events, presented almost nightly from June 6 to Sept. 15 at Ravinia Park in Highland Park.

  • Music of the Baroque announces its 43rd season

    March 5, 2013

    Haydn's “The Creation,” Bach's Magnificat and Mozart's “Coronation” Mass are among the highlights of Music of the Baroque's 2013-14 season, the Chicago group's 43rd.

  • Van Cliburn dead: American piano virtuoso was Cold War hero, cultural icon

    February 28, 2013

    Van Cliburn, the immensely talented American piano virtuoso with the down-home charm and big romantic style, whose gold-medal win at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 at the height of the Cold War made him a cultural icon for decades to come, died Wednesday at his home in Ft. Worth.

  • Russian soprano scores stunning local debut in Lyric's 'Rigoletto' ★★★

    February 26, 2013

    What is it about "Rigoletto" that causes tin-eared stage directors to paint graffiti all over the opera? The new production that opened last month at the Metropolitan Opera, which wags promptly dubbed the "Rat Pack 'Rigoletto,' " updates the story from 16th century Mantua, Italy, to a Las Vegas casino of the 1960s run by Frank Sinatra. Not so long ago, Lyric Opera turned the work into a revisionist screed about 19th century male subjugation of women that had nothing to do with the masterpiece Giuseppe Verdi wrote.

  • Dale Clevenger leaves impressive legacy at CSO

    February 21, 2013

    It could not have been easy for Dale Clevenger to face up to the question of how and when to step down as principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But it was time.

  • Dale Clevenger to leave Chicago Symphony Orchestra after 47 years

    February 19, 2013

    One of the world’s legendary brass players is leaving the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Dale Clevenger announced through the orchestra on Tuesday that he will be stepping down on June 30 from his position as principal French horn, a post he will have held for a remarkable 47 years.

  • Grant Park Music Festival summer season announced

    February 14, 2013

    Once again the Grant Park Music Festival is taking the lead among local summer festivals when it comes to presenting eclectic combinations of popular symphonic and choral fare and more adventuresome classical music programming. And it's all free.

  • Haymarket carves out authentic niche in baroque chamber opera

    February 12, 2013

    From its debut in 2011, the Haymarket Opera Company has thrived by putting on repertory of the sort no other Chicago group has investigated as thoroughly – unusual baroque chamber operas using period instruments and historically informed stage direction, movement and design. These intimate rarities have felt perfectly at home in Mayne Stage, a cabaret-style theater in the city's Rogers Park neighborhood that seats 230 and serves drinks during performances.

  • Lyric Opera of Chicago season full of greatest hits

    February 7, 2013

    Lyric Opera's 2013-14 season will be given over almost entirely to bread-and-butter repertory designed, at least in part, to ensure the company's sizable ticket sales don't flag in a still-weakened economy.

  • Muti to salute Verdi and Schubert for upcoming Chicago Symphony Orchestra season

    February 6, 2013

    With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra heading home later this week from its tour of the Far East, the CSO Association is wasting no time releasing the programs and artists to be presented during the fall season at Symphony Center.

  • Lyric Opera brings fresh approach to Puccini's 'La Boheme'

    January 23, 2013

    Without fanfare, Lyric Opera has been systematically retiring elderly opera productions that have outlived their usefulness or have simply worn out with age. A prime candidate for junking was the 1972 Pier Luigi Pizzi production of Puccini's "La Boheme," a kind of corporate apartment house that has seen countless occupants, worthy and not so worthy, over the years. Recent revivals made that dingy and faded show no easier to live with.

  • Jane Glover takes stock of her fruitful decade with Music of the Baroque

    January 22, 2013

    Chicago music has long gone gaga over the Brits, and not simply because the city's two leading opera companies are, or were, run by thoroughly capable Englishmen – Anthony Freud at Lyric Opera and Brian Dickie, who retired last year after 13 seasons as general director of Chicago Opera Theater.

  • Riccardo Muti 'resting comfortably' after surgery

    January 21, 2013

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti is expected to be released Tuesday from a hospital in Milan, Italy, where on Monday morning he successfully underwent a hernia operation.

  • With Riccardo Muti out, guest conductors fill the CSO breach

    January 18, 2013

    Riccardo Muti just can’t seem to catch a break.

  • 'La Boheme' star Ana Maria Martinez is no diva offstage

    January 15, 2013

    The saga of how Ana Maria Martinez resolved her career conflicts, shed her inhibitions and wound up as one of the most sought-after operatic artists of her generation might make an interesting little made-for-TV drama.

  • George Lepauw makes Beethoven belong to Chicago

    December 27, 2012

    George Lepauw lives his life according to a precept he picked up as a very young child studying piano with Aida Barenboim, mother of former CSO music director Daniel Barenboim, in his native Paris.

  • Vasily Petrenko proves he's the real deal in debut with CSO

    December 7, 2012

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra does a thorough job bringing to local attention gifted young conductors who are creating a stir in the podium world. The latest to make his debut on the subscription series is Vasily Petrenko, the 36-year-old chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and soon-to-be chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Lyric names interim chorus director

    December 3, 2012

    Lyric Opera has appointed Ian Robertson, chorus director of the San Francisco Opera, guest chorus master for the remainder of the season while the company continues to search for a permanent chorus director.

  • British conductor Mark Elder, soloist bring early Christmas presents to CSO

    November 30, 2012

    The great gift Mark Elder brings to Chicago Symphony Orchestra audiences at holiday time is that of appealing symphonic repertory, delivered in such a way as to make the whole seem even finer than its components. Such a program greeted a curiously underpopulated Orchestra Hall on Thursday night.

  • Riccardo Muti ill, cancels Vienna concert appearances

    November 2, 2012

    Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has canceled his scheduled appearances at the helm of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra this weekend because of illness, according to a statement issued by the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna.

  • Bychkov's worthy Mahler Third marred by poor CSO brass playing

    November 2, 2012

    In the 45 years since then-music director Jean Martinon introduced Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3 to Chicago Symphony Orchestra audiences, this grandiose, sprawling masterpiece has turned up with remarkable frequency.

  • Opera meets mariachi in latest Lyric venture

    October 22, 2012

    You've heard of rock operas, tango operas, crossover operas.

  • Mexico City provides festive finale to CSO, Muti tour

    October 11, 2012

    — It's an edifice harking to a more opulent era, an inspired fusion of Old World elegance and New World vitality. Even the name is grand: Palacio de Bellas Artes.

  • CSO players encourage students: 'Try it yourself'

    October 9, 2012

    GUANAJUATO, Mexico — Oto Carrillo asked, in Spanish, if anyone in the assembly of some 800 teenage students knew the name of the composer whose music he and colleagues from the Chicago Symphony Orchestrahad just played.

  • CSO battles hot, dry hall but basks in warmth of audience

    October 9, 2012

    GUANAJUATO, Mexico — I joked with Riccardo Muti after the concert here Monday night that if he had won one more award before the Chicago Symphony Orchestraconcludes its tour on Wednesday, the CSO will have to add another trunk to its 15 tons of cargo.

  • Chicago Symphony arrives in Mexico

    October 8, 2012

    — The Old World charm is palpable almost the minute you arrive in this 16th Century Spanish colonial city tucked in the mountains of central Mexico.

  • Muti, CSO open tour with lusty 'Carmina Burana' at Carnegie Hall

    October 4, 2012

    NEW YORK – It wasn't the tumultuous ovation that went on into the night following the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first Carnegie Hall concert under then-music director Georg Solti back in 1970, but it was loud and it was instantaneous.

  • Strike in rearview mirror as CSO starts New York tour

    October 3, 2012

    NEW YORK — While much of the nation was focused on the first presidential debate Wednesday night, there was no debate among Manhattan's classical music cognoscenti over who the most prestigious musical visitors of the week were, and are.

  • Vocal crisis behind her, Christine Goerke takes on the murderous (in all senses) role of Elektra at Lyric

    October 2, 2012

    Christine Goerke is flying high in the opera world, but not so long ago a catastrophic vocal crisis threatened to send the world she knew crashing down around her.

  • Claire Chase forges a new arts model

    October 1, 2012

    Claire Chase learned she was one of the recipients of this year's MacArthur Awards last week during a sound check for a solo performance that the 34-year-old flutist gave in Guangzhou, China.

  • Fall music preview: Getting a sound classical education

    September 6, 2012

  • Lyric Opera draws on fiscal reserves to break even for year

    May 14, 2012

    Compared with just about every other company in the business, Lyric Opera of Chicago continues to ride above the economic turbulence that is buffeting so many of the nation's other not-for-profit performing arts organizations. Not soaring, but riding.

  • CSO, Muti announce tours of Far East, Mexico in 2012-13

    May 8, 2012

    No sooner have the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti unpacked their bags from their successful tour of Russia and Italylast month than they are making plans for two more foreign trips together next season.

  • Yo-Yo Ma, CSO give fresh account of Dvorak

    May 7, 2012

    The recent triumphs of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Russia and Italy were all, I'm sure, well earned. But the roaring reception that greeted the CSO musicians Saturday night at the first subscription concert since their latest overseas tour reminded one that any accolades an orchestra may garner around the world begin with its achievements back home.

  • Lyric sets world premiere of new opera based on Ann Patchett novel for 2015-16 season

    February 28, 2012

    Lyric Opera of Chicago has shied away from commissioning any new operas over the last decade, at a time when other major American opera companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Los Angeles Opera have actively cultivated new stage works from inception to premiere.

  • Lyric Opera goes to nine productions for upcoming season

    January 17, 2012

    Chicago opera lovers impatient to learn what innovations Anthony Freud will put into place now that he is well and truly ensconced as general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, will have to cool their heels.

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