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Samuel Ramey (Christian Steiner photo)

Wishing the happiest of (slightly belated) birthdays to the remarkable American bass Samuel Ramey, who celebrated his seventh-fifth on March 28!

The legendary singer has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981

November 1, 2, and 4, 1984
MUSSORGSKY Boris Godunov
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Ruggero Raimondi, bass
Zehava Gal, mezzo-soprano
Cyndia Sieden, soprano
Jennifer Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Langridge, tenor
Hartmut Welker, baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
Kaludi Kaludov, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
John Shirley-Quirk, bass-baritone
Sergei Kopchak, bass
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
Bradley Nystrom, bass-baritone
Donald Kaasch, tenor
Paul Grizzell, bass
Dale Prest, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

November 16, 1986
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Linda Finnie, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Ramey, Samuel; bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Gwynne Howell originally was scheduled to perform the bass part but canceled due to illness. He was replaced by Bonaldo Giaiotti on November 13 and 14 and Ramey on November 16.

Samuel Ramey (Steven Leonard photo)

June 23, 1989 (Ravinia Festival)
VERDI Messa da Requiem
James Levine, conductor
Andrea Gruber, soprano
Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

October 6, 1990 (Centennial Gala)
BEETHOVEN Finale: Ode, “To Joy” from Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia McNair, soprano
Susanne Mentzer, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

July 8, 2000 (Ravinia Fesitval)
Selections by Copland, Leigh, Loewe, Mozart, Rodgers, and Verdi
Miguel-Harth Bedoya, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Samuel Ramey, bass

July 2, 2005 (Ravinia Festival)
IBERT Chansons de Don Quichotte
RAVEL Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
James Conlon, conductor

August 15, and 17, 2008 (Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival)
MOZART Don Giovanni, K. 527
James Conlon, conductor
Ellie Dehn, soprano
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Toby Spence, tenor
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, bass-baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
James Creswell, bass
Morris Robinson, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago
Stephen Alltop, director

Happy, happy birthday!

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Congratulations to our friends at the Auditorium Theatre as they celebrate 125 years! First opening its doors on December 9, 1889, the Auditorium hosted a gala program that evening that culminated with an appearance by soprano Adelina Patti, one of the most celebrated singers of the day. She performed, unaccompanied, John Howard Payne‘s Home, Sweet Home, “so well that President Benjamin Harrison rose from his seat and smote his right hand with his left as everybody else was doing” (according to the Chicago Tribune).

Theodore Thomas and the Chicago Orchestra onstage at the Auditorium Theatre in November 1897

Theodore Thomas and the Chicago Orchestra onstage at the Auditorium Theatre in November 1897

Less than two years later, the Auditorium Theatre became the first home of the Chicago Orchestra (as we were then called) when Theodore Thomas led our first concerts on October 16 and 17, 1891. It would remain the Orchestra’s primary venue until Orchestra Hall opened its doors on December 14, 1904.

To commemorate the anniversary, a gala concert this evening features members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, among many others.

Congratulations on your first 125 years!

December 16 & 17, 1892, program book cover

December 16 & 17, 1892, program book cover

During the Chicago Orchestra‘s second season, music director Theodore Thomas programmed Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 for the first time with his new ensemble. The performances were given on December 16 and 17, 1892, at the Auditorium Theatre.

According to an account in the Chicago Daily Tribune on December 18: “Like whistling winds broken by the blare of trumpets and the crash of cymbals and again like a sigh breathed upon the strings of a harp, Beethoven’s ninth symphony and his music to Goethe’s Egmont were listened to by nearly 4,000 music-lovers at the Auditorium last night. . . . The highest social circles of the city were in attendance. Chicago’s cultured and fashionable classes enjoyed a musical festival in honor of the 122nd anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. For the first time in the history of the city the great composer’s birth was fittingly celebrated. In 1870 the 100th anniversary was observed with a concert in old Farwell Hall, but as compared with the event of last evening it was insignificant.”

What the reviewer recounted next is nothing short of jaw-dropping: “Mr. Thomas had his men play the last movement of the Symphony a full tone lower than it is written—a proceeding without precedent in the entire history of the great work and which bids fair to call down upon him the wrath of musical purists and classicists. The subject was vigorously discussed by musicians present at the concert last night, and, although many liberal minds defended the director in his action, conservatives who bitterly assailed him were not wanting. The men of the orchestra covered themselves with glory by playing the movement with entire accuracy a tone lower than was indicated by the notes on the music parts before them. . . .

December 16 & 17, 1892, program page

December 16 & 17, 1892, program page

“When the Apollo Club chorus of 200 voices [prepared by William L. Tomlins], together with Miss Minnie Fish and Mrs. Minna Brentano and Charles A. Knorr and George E. Holmes, joined with the orchestra . . . the majesty and grandeur of the music were highly appreciated and greeted with almost boundless applause. The words of the ‘Ode to Joy‘ were sung with such precision and distinctness they they could be heard and appreciated in every part of the house. When the notes of the Choral Finale had died away the vast audience applauded for several minutes.”

The reviewer described Thomas’s “innovation”—surprisingly, not mentioned at all in Adolph W. Dohn’s program note (the complete program book is here)—as follows: “The last movement of the Symphony Mr. Thomas gave in C minor instead of D minor, the key in which Beethoven wrote it. It was an act which demanded no slight courage on the part of the great leader, and there were not lacking last evening musical conservatives who indignantly accused him of ‘taking unwarrantable liberties with music’s masterpieces,’ and ‘marring the works of the great composers.’ Mr. Thomas did not make the change, however, save after long and serious consideration. To make the change meant to break one of the ironclad, time-honored rules governing symphonic form, and possibly to lessen slightly the brilliancy of certain passages. On the other hand, the change freed the sopranos from the necessity of singing numerous high Gs and As, and could but result in marked gain in the volume and quality of the tone produced. He weighed these matters and decided upon the transposition, a decision that liberal thinkers in the musical world will uphold him in and approve of.”

Even with the modification, the reviewer was moved to write: “The rendition accorded the Symphony last evening by Mr. Thomas and his forces was worthy of the work itself, of the master whose greatest power it represents, of the event the concert celebrated, and of the great leader to whom musical Chicago is indebted for so much. The orchestra was in its best condition, and upon it Mr. Thomas played as does a master upon some perfect instrument. The result was a performance technically flawless, interpretatively superb. . . . And last night the choral finale brought with it no disappointment. A larger chorus might have been wished for, perhaps, but in the Allegro energico and the great climax that follows, but in the other portions of the work—and it is in these that the chorus after all finds opportunity for effective singing, the voice parts in the climax being buried under a mountain of orchestral tone—in these portions, the 200 singers from the Apollo Club acquitted themselves most creditably, their work being satisfactory and deserving of sincere praise.”

There is no evidence to indicate that Thomas’s later performances of the Ninth Symphony were performed in a similar manner.

(The complete Chicago Daily Tribune article—courtesy of Proquest via the Chicago Public Library—is here.)

To open the 124th season in September, Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The concerts currently are sold out, but check the website as last-minute tickets may become available.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has performed Verdi’s Requiem on numerous occasions, and a complete list of all documented performances is below:

Northwestern, June 1910 - Lutkin conducting

North Shore May Festival, Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, June 1910 – Peter C. Lutkin conducting

June 4, 1910 (Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, Illinois)
Peter C. Lutkin conductor
Jane Osborn-Hannah, soprano
Rose Lutiger-Gannon, contralto
Evan Williams, tenor
Allen Hinckley, bass
North Shore Festival Chorus

February 7, 1912 (Massey Music Hall, Toronto, Ontario)
February 28, 1912 (Carnegie Hall, New York)
A.S. Vogt, conductor (for 2/7, not confirmed for 2/28)
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Christine Miller, mezzo-soprano
George Hamlin, tenor
Clarence Whitehill, bass-baritone
Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto

February 26, 1912 (Convention Hall, Buffalo, New York)
February 29, 1912 (Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts)
(Excerpt: Libera me)
A.S. Vogt, conductor (not confirmed)
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto

May 15, 1913 (Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Albert A. Stanley, conductor
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Ernestine Schumann-Heink, contralto
Lambert Murphy, tenor
Henri Scott, bass
University Choral Union

February 2, 1914 (Massey Music Hall, Toronto)
(Excerpts: Offertorium, Sanctus and Benedictus, Responsorium)
A.S. Vogt, conductor (not confirmed)
Florence Hinkle, soprano
Mildred Potter, contralto
Reed Miller, tenor
Horatio Connell, baritone
Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto

Pabst Theatre, April 1951 - Herman A. Zeitz conducting

Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 1951 – Herman A. Zeitz conducting

April 5, 1915 (Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Herman A. Zeitz, conductor
Lucille Stevenson, soprano
Charlotte Peege, mezzo-soprano
Albert Lindquest, tenor
Burton Thatcher, bass
Milwaukee Musical Society Mixed Chorus

April 18, 1915 (Orchestra Hall)
Daniel Protheroe, conductor
Marjorie Dodge Warner, soprano
Rose Lutiger-Gannon, contralto
Albert Lindquest, tenor
Marion Green, bass
Allen W. Bogen, organ
“50 Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra”
Irish Choral Society

May 14, 1915 (Elmwood Music Hall, Buffalo, New York)
Frederick Stock, conductor
Anna Case, soprano
Margarete Matzenauer, contralto
Paul Althouse, tenor
Clarence Whitehill, bass-baritone
Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus
Andrew T. Webster, director

April 11, 1918 (Orchestra Hall)
Harrison M. Wild, conductor
Adelaide Fischer, soprano
Emma Roberts, alto
Theodore Karle, tenor
Henri Scott, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

April 13, 1919 (Auditorium Theatre)
(Given in memory of the heroes of the U.S. and Allied nations)
May 18, 1919 (Bartlett Gymnasium, University of Chicago)
(Given in memory of members of the University of Chicago fallen in the war)
Harrison M. Wild, conductor
Monica Graham Stultz, soprano
Louise Harrison Slade, alto
Robert Quait, tenor
Arthur Middleton, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

North Shore Music Festival, May 1928 - Frederick Stock conducting

North Shore May Festival, Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, May 1928 – Frederick Stock conducting

May 20, 1920 (Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Albert A. Stanley, conductor
Leona Sparkes, soprano
Carolina Lazzari, contralto
William Wheeler, tenor
Léon Rothier, bass
University Choral Union

May 21, 1928 ((Northwestern University Gymnasium, Evanston, Illinois))
Frederick Stock, conductor
Isabel Richardson Molter, soprano
Alvene Resseguie, contralto
Eugene F. Dressler, tenor
Rollin M. Pease, baritone
Festival Chorus of 600 Singers
A Cappella Choir

April 16, 1929 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Else Harthan Arendt, soprano
Lilian Knowles, contralto
Edwin Kemp, tenor
Raymund Koch, bass
Chicago Sunday Evening Club Choir
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, May 1930 - Moore conducting

Ann Arbor May Festival, Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 1930 – Earl V. Moore conducting

May 17, 1930 (Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Earl V. Moore, conductor
Nanette Guilford, soprano
Kathryn Meisle, contralto
Paul Althouse, tenor
Chase Baromeo, bass
Palmer Christian, organ
University Choral Union

February 20, 1934 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Margery Maxwell, soprano
Lilian Knowles, alto
William Miller, tenor
Mark Love, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

April 21, 1941 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Esther Hart, soprano
Ruth Heizer, alto
William Miller, tenor
Mark Love, bass
Robert Birch, organ
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

April 8, 1949 (Orchestra Hall)
Edgar Nelson, conductor
Maud Nosler, soprano
Lili Chookasian, contralto
Edward Richmond, tenor
David Austin, bass
Robert Birch, organ
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

Ravinia Festival, July 1951 - William Steinberg conducting

Ravinia Festival, July 1951 – William Steinberg conducting

July 31, 1951 (Ravinia Festival)
William Steinberg, conductor
Frances Yeend, soprano
Elena Nikolaidi, mezzo-soprano
Jan Peerce, tenor
Yi-Kwei Sze, bass
Northwestern University Summer Chorus
George Howerton, director

February 14 and 15, 1952 (Orchestra Hall)
Bruno Walter, conductor
Zinka Milanov, soprano
Elena Nikolaidi, mezzo-soprano
David Poleri, tenor
Cesare Siepi, bass
Combined Choral Organizations of Northwestern University
George Howerton, director

August 2, 1956 (Ravinia Festival)
William Steinberg conductor
Frances Yeend, soprano
Regina Resnik, mezzo-soprano
Jan Peerce, tenor
Nicola Moscana, bass
Northwestern University Summer Chorus
George Howerton, director

Orchestra Hall, April 1958 - Fritz Reiner conducting

Orchestra Hall, April 1958 – Fritz Reiner conducting

April 3 and 4, 1958 (Orchestra Hall)
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Leonie Rysanek, soprano
Regina Resnik, mezzo-soprano
David Lloyd, tenor
Giorgio Tozzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 22, 1960 (Orchestra Hall)
Henry Veld, conductor
Alice Riley, soprano
Evelyn Reynolds, alto
Thomas MacBone, tenor
Lionel Godow, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago

July 30, 1966 (Ravinia Festival)
William Steinberg, conductor
Saramae Endich, soprano
Maureen Forrester, mezzo-soprano
Jacob Barkin, tenor
John Macurdy, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 14, 15, and 16, 1968 (Orchestra Hall)
Jean Martinon, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
Carol Smith, mezzo-soprano
Sándor Kónya, tenor
Malcolm Smith, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Orchestra Hall, March 1971 - Carlo Maria Giulini conducting

Orchestra Hall, March 1971 – Carlo Maria Giulini conducting

March 25, 26, and 27, 1971 (Orchestra Hall)
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Martina Arroyo, soprano
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
Carlo Cossutta, tenor
Ezio Flagello, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 24 and 26, 1975 (Orchestra Hall)
April 30, 1975 (Carnegie Hall)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 31, 1977 (Orchestra Hall)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 24, 1983 (Ravinia Festival)
James Levine, conductor
Leona Mitchell, soprano
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Ermanno Mauro, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Orchestra Hall, November 1986 - Claudio Abbado conducting

Orchestra Hall, November 1986 – Claudio Abbado conducting

November 13, 14, and 16, 1986 (Orchestra Hall)
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Linda Finnie, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Bonaldo Giaiotti, bass (November 13 and 14)
Samuel Ramey, bass (November 16)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 23, 1989 (Ravinia Festival)
James Levine, conductor
Andrea Gruber, soprano
Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 3 and 4, 1989 (Orchestra Hall)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor (November 3)
Michael Morgan, conductor (November 4)
(Excerpt: Sanctus)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Terry Edwards, guest chorus master

September 17, 18, 23, and 25, 1993 (Orchestra Hall)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Alessandra Marc, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
Vicente Ombuena, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Ravinia Festival, June 1996 - Christoph Eschenbach conducting

Ravinia Festival, June 1996 – Christoph Eschenbach conducting

June 23, 1996 (Ravinia Festival)
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Shinobu Satoh, soprano
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Richard Leech, tenor
Roberto Scandiuzzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

April 24, 26, and 28, 2001 (Orchestra Hall)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Margaret Jane Wray, soprano (April 24)
Deborah Voigt, soprano (April 26 and 28)
Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano
Johan Botha, tenor
René Pape, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

June 30, 2001 (Ravinia Festival)
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Adina Nitescu, soprano
Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
John Relyea, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

July 8, 2006 (Ravinia Festival)
James Conlon, conductor
Christine Brewer, soprano
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Frank Lopardo, tenor
Vitalij Kowaljow, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

Orchestra Hall, January 2009 - Riccardo Muti conducting

Orchestra Hall, January 2009 – Riccardo Muti conducting

June 14, 15, and 16, 2007 (Orchestra Hall)
David Zinman, conductor
Sondra Radvanovsky, soprano
Yvonne Naef, mezzo-soprano
Giuseppe Sabbatini, tenor
Morris D. Robinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

January 15, 16, and 17, 2009 (Orchestra Hall)
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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Maestro Riccardo Muti and the CSO last night at Palm Desert’s McCallum Theatre. The program included works Schubert, Schumann, and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major performed by CSO Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson. The link to the CSO's tour schedule is in our bio. Photos by @toddrphoto. #CSOonTour

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