Music Director Riccardo Muti Opens
 Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2016/17 Season

Mike Lawson • News • September 6, 2016

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Music Director Riccardo Muti returns in September to lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in two programs which open the Orchestra’s 2016/17 season (September 22-October 1).  

The opening program features Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 and works by R. Strauss and Mussorgsky (September 22, 23 & 27). It is followed by a program that includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, as well as first-ever performances by the CSO of Alfredo Catalani’s romantic tone poem Contemplazione and Giuseppe Martucci’s song cycle La canzone dei ricordi (The Song of Memories) with American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in her CSO debut (September 29, 30 & October 1). 

Following critically acclaimed performances of Bruckner’s Te Deum and Symphony No. 9 during his June 2016 residency, Muti and the CSO return to the music of Anton Bruckner to open the 2016/17 season. The subscription concerts on September 22, 23 and 27 include Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 as well as Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan and Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain, a work that received its U.S. premiere by the Orchestra. Muti and the CSO repeat the program at the University of Illinois’ Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana-Champaign on Saturday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m., marking the CSO’s 34th performance at the venue and Muti’s third appearance with the Orchestra at Krannert since becoming music director in 2010.

Muti’s second week of subscription concerts with the CSO take place on September 29, 30 and October 1 and features two works by Italian composers Alfredo Catalani (1854-1893) and Giuseppe Martucci (1856-1909) receiving their CSO premieres. Catalani, who is more widely known as an opera composer (Loreley, La Wally), composed his Contemplazione in 1878. It is a single-movement orchestral nocturne, filled with lyricism and rich orchestration. Martucci, who was an accomplished pianist, teacher and composer of mostly instrumental music, is perhaps best known for his elegant vocal work La canzone dei ricordi (The Song of Memories). The seven-movement song cycle, with texts by Italian poet Rocco Emanuele Pagliara, is performed by Muti and the CSO with internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato who makes her CSO debut in these performances. Completing the program is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

In addition to his concert programs, Muti participates in two activities organized by the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO.  The activities include a return visit to the Illinois Youth Center in Chicago (IYCC) on September 25 where Muti is joined by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato (performing in CSO subscription concerts on September 29, 30 and October 1) and bass-baritone Eric Owens (making his role debut as Wotan in Wagner’s Das Rheingold at Lyric Opera of Chicago, October 1-22), as well as musicians of the CSO (CSO Flute/Piccolo Jennifer Gunn, CSO Principal Tuba Gene Pokorny and CSO Principal Percussion Cynthia Yeh). The afternoon program of music for the young men at IYCC is part of Muti’s ongoing commitment to sharing classical music with incarcerated youth and marks Muti’s eighth visit to a Chicago-area youth correctional facility since becoming music director in 2010.

During his September residency, Muti also opens the 2016/17 season of Civic Orchestra of Chicago activities with a return to the podium to lead the Civic in an Open Rehearsal on Monday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m. Muti rehearses the members of the Civic Orchestra in movements one and two of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. While the rehearsal is free and open to the public; tickets are required. The Civic Orchestra of Chicago is a program of the Negaunee Music at the CSO. Visit for details.

On September 30, CSO Resound, the official recording label of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, releases Schoenberg: Kol Nidre and Shostakovich: Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti. This is the seventh release for Muti and the CSO and features two lesser-known vocal works by two of the 20th century’s most distinguished and innovative composers. The album was recorded live during Muti’s subscription concerts in March and June of 2012 at Symphony Center. Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre was recorded with narrator Alberto Mizrahi, a leading interpreter of Jewish music, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, while Shostakovich’s Suite featured acclaimed Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as soloist.

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