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John Aler (Jack Mitchell photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of American tenor John Aler, who died on December 10, 2022. He was seventy-three.

A four-time Grammy Award winner, Aler was a frequent guest with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, both in Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of his appearances and recordings with the Orchestra and Chorus is below.

February 13, 14, and 16, 1986, Orchestra Hall
BRITTEN War Requiem, Op. 66
Margaret Marshall, soprano
John Aler, tenor
Benjamin Luxon, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, conductor
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

August 14, 1986, Ravinia Festival
LISZT A Faust Symphony
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Conlon, conductor

December 12 and 17, 1991, Orchestra Hall
BARTOK Cantata profana
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 16, 1991, for Deutsche Grammophon. Paired with Bartók’s The Wooden Prince, the release won four Grammy awards—Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Choral Performance, and Best Engineered Recording–Classical—from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

January 16, 17, 18, and February 14, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Renée Fleming, soprano (January 16, 17, and 18)
Margaret Jane Wray, soprano (February 14)
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
John Aler, tenor
Peter Rose, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 29, 30, May 1, and 4, 1993, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Tina Kiberg, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
John Aler, tenor
Robert Holl, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded live in Orchestra Hall for Erato.

October 22, 1997, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Emily Magee, soprano
Anna Larsson, contralto
John Aler, tenor
René Pape, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
The second half of a concert given in memory of Sir Georg Solti, who died on September 5, 1997

August 14, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Dies Bildnis is bezaubernd schön from The Magic Flute, K. 620
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
John Aler, tenor
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
A portion of a concert—called A Galaxy of Stars—presented to benefit Ravinia’s outreach programs

July 23, 2010, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN/Mauceri Vocal Suite from Candide
Cunegonde Anna Christy, soprano
Old Lady Kim Criswell, vocalist
Candide Nicholas Phan, tenor
Maximilian Jonathan Beyer, baritone
Governor/Vanderdendur John Aler, tenor
Paquette Kathryn Leemhuis, mezzo-soprano
Lakeside Singers
Robert Bowker, director
John Axelrod, conductor

August 6 and 8, 2010, Ravinia Festival
MOZART The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Figaro John Relyea, bass-baritone
Countess Almaviva Ailyn Pérez, soprano
Bartolo Richard Bernstein, bass
Susanna Lisette Oropesa, soprano
Marcellina Jane Bunnell, mezzo-soprano
Cherubino Lauren McNeese, mezzo-soprano
Count Almaviva Nathan Gunn, baritone
Basilio John Aler, tenor
Antonio Paul Corona, bass
Don Curzio Rodell Rosel, tenor
Barbarina Lei Xu, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
James Conlon, conductor

Daniel Barenboim leads the Orchestra and Chorus in Mozart’s Requiem in memory of Sir Georg Solti on October 22, 1997 (Jim Steere photo)

This article also appears here.

Sir Georg Solti and Margaret Hillis show off their 1986 Grammy Awards for Liszt’s A Faust Symphony and Orff’s Carmina burana. (Jim Steere)

During her 37 years as director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Margaret Hillis prepared her ensemble for many recordings—including nine Grammy Award winners—with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the Erato, Deutsche Grammophon, London, and RCA labels. A sample of some of those iconic records is below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Felicity Lott soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter mezzo-soprano
Hans Peter Blochwitz tenor
William Shimell baritone
Gwynne Howell bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1990
 
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter mezzo-soprano
Anthony Rolfe Johnson tenor
Tom Krause bass
Hans Peter Blochwitz tenor
Olaf Bär baritone
Richard Cohn baritone
Patrice Michaels soprano
Debra Austin mezzo-soprano
William Watson tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1987
London

BARBER 
The Lovers
Dale Duesing baritone
BARBER Prayers of Kierkegaard
Sarah Reese soprano
Andrew Schenk conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director

BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Lucia Popp soprano
Yvonne Minton mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker tenor
Gwynne Howell bass
Victor Aitay violin
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1977
London

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Fritz Reiner conductor
Phyllis Curtin soprano
Florence Kopleff contralto
John McCollum tenor
Donald Gramm bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1961
RCA

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Jessye Norman soprano
Reinhild Runkel mezzo-soprano
Robert Schunk tenor
Hans Sotin bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1986
London

BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Frederica von Stade mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel tenor
José van Dam baritone
Malcolm King bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1981
London

BRAHMS 
A German Requiem, Op. 45
Daniel Barenboim conductor
Janet Williams soprano
Thomas Hampson baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1992
Erato

BRUCKNER Helgoland
Daniel Barenboim conductor
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1979
Deutsche Grammophon

BRUCKNER Psalm 150

Daniel Barenboim conductor
Ruth Welting soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1979
Deutsche Grammophon

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 in Orchestra Hall in 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

DOWNS Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1986
London

HANDEL 
Messiah
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Elizabeth Hynes soprano
Anne Gjevang contralto
Keith Lewis tenor
Gwynne Howell bass
David Schrader harpsichord
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1984
London

HAYDN The Seasons
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Ruth Ziesak soprano
Uwe Heilmann tenor
René Pape bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1992
London

HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Norma Burrowes soprano
Sylvia Greenberg soprano
Rüdiger Wohlers tenor
Siegmund Nimsgern bass-baritone
James Morris bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1984
London

IVES Orchestral Set No. 2
Morton Gould conductor
Members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Robert Schweitzer assistant director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1967
RCA

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor 
(Resurrection)
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Isobel Buchanan soprano
Mira Zakai mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1980
London

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor
 (Resurrection)
Claudio Abbado conductor
Carol Neblett soprano
Marilyn Horne mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1976
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Alexander Nevsky

Fritz Reiner conductor
Rosalind Elias mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1959
RCA

SMITH/Stock The Star-Spangled Banner

Sir Georg Solti conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1986
London

VERDI Opera Choruses
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Terry Edwards guest chorus director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1989
London

VERDI 
Four Sacred Pieces
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Jo Ann Pickens soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1977-78
London

This article also appears here.

On August 26, 2021, Frank Villella, director of the Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, sat down with Cheryl Frazes Hill and Don Horisberger — both longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, both as singers and members of the conducting staff — to talk about their colleague and mentor Margaret Hillis

The recording of the conversation is here:

A few edited highlights from the conversation are below.

Villella: could you describe the first time you heard the Chicago Symphony Chorus?

Frazes Hill: As a young child, I heard the Chorus at the Ravinia Festival, and I was always fascinated. But the first up-close-and-personal experience was when my high school English teacher, Richard Livingston, a longtime member of the Chorus, invited me to a rehearsal. I remember Hillis walking in, precisely on time. After the warmup, she gave the downbeat, and this incredible sound enveloped me. I was just in awe. It was a sound like no other, and it was a great thrill.

Margaret Hillis onstage in Orchestra Hall in 1978 (Terry’s Photography)

Horisberger: I first heard the Chorus when I was singing in it. I got to know Miss Hillis as a student at Northwestern, and she encouraged me to audition. So, my first experience was sitting in the midst of the Chorus with all of those voices around me but not hearing it as a whole somehow. The thing that I most remember is not being particularly overwhelmed until I got out on stage for the first orchestra rehearsal and thought, “that is Georg Solti, this is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.” He gave a downbeat, I breathed, and nothing happened for at least ten seconds. And I thought, “this is an illustrious start to my career.”

Villella: Let’s talk a little more about your interactions with Miss Hillis: her preparation process and how you would be involved, and how you assisted in rehearsals.

Horisberger: As most people came to experience, she was extremely organized. She knew from the very beginning what we were going to cover in each rehearsal. One of the things that I came to admire is that she really trusted her assistants, and she was incredibly supportive. 

Frazes Hill: There were exceptional times that she would meet with us, and I remember Stravinsky’s Les noces. She gave us not only marked scores but she also gave us her beat patterns, because there are various ways in which that piece can be conducted. She had worked that piece with Igor Stravinsky, so it was completely embedded in her arm a certain way.

Margaret Hillis and Doreen Rao (director of the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus) receive applause following the October 31, 1977, performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in Carnegie Hall (Robert M. Lightfoot III)

Villella: The Orchestra and Chorus performed Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in Carnegie Hall on October 31, 1977, when Margaret Hillis replaced an injured Sir Georg Solti on the podium. You were both there.

Frazes Hill: After the third performance in Chicago was canceled, Miss Hillis told management, “If I was needed, I will be ready.” At the dress rehearsal in New York, none of us knew who would be conducting that evening. And when she walked out onto the stage, it was pretty clear to all of us that this was going to be on her shoulders. She said, “Please don’t try to help me. Just do your job, and I’ll do mine, and we’ll keep the whole shooting match together.” Later, we were onstage for the performance and the gentleman from Carnegie Hall came out and made the announcement that Sir Georg Solti was injured, and the sold-out audience let out a corporate groan. When he announced that in his place would be the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, he couldn’t even finish her name before the place erupted. We were all so proud, so nervous, there were so many emotions, and we had to come out with a big “Veni!”

The New York Times, page 1; November 1, 1977

Horisberger: We were all on pins and needles, wondering what was going to happen in New York. I remember thinking, “I wonder what she’s going to do in this section,” because her approach was different than Solti’s, and I was impressed that she was being very careful. This was my first time with the Orchestra and Chorus in Carnegie, I was overwhelmed by the response, and the applause went on and on and on.

Frazes Hill: When the final moments were over, there was such a collective sigh of relief and joy. Carnegie Hall audiences are always so incredibly enthusiastic when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform, and there’s always enormous applause. But this was something different and we knew it was all for her. And that made it even greater.

The New York Times, page 46; November 1, 1977

This article also appears here.

Sir Georg Solti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a recording session for Mahler’s Symphony no. 3 in Orchestra Hall in November 1982 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

During his tenure as principal trumpet, Adolph “Bud” Herseth and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recorded an astonishing number of works, under five music directors and numerous guest conductors for Angel, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, London, Mercury, and RCA. A sample of some of those iconic records is below.

BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Recorded in Krannert Center, University of Illinois in May 1972
London

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)
Daniel Barenboim conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in November 1972
Deutsche Grammophon

DEBUSSY Nocturnes
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in January 1990
London

HANDEL The trumpet shall sound from Messiah
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Gwynne Howell bass-baritone
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in October 1984
London

JANÁČEK Sinfonietta
Seiji Ozawa conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in Jun 1970
Angel

MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Carlo Maria Giulini conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple March 1971
Angel

MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Sir Georg Solti conductor
Helga Dernesch mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
James Winfield director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1982
London

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Georg Solti conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in March 1970
London

MAHLER Symphony No. 7
Claudio Abbado conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in January and February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

NIELSEN Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 (The Four Temperaments)
Morton Gould conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in June 1966
RCA

PROKOFIEV Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1957
RCA

RESPIGHI Pines of Rome
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in October 1959
RCA

ROSSINI Overture to William Tell
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1958
RCA

SCRIABIN The Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54
Pierre Boulez conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in November 1995
Deutsche Grammophon

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47
André Previn conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple in January 1977
EMI

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60 (Leningrad)
Leonard Bernstein conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in June 1988
Deutsche Grammophon

STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1954
RCA

STRAVINSKY Song of the Nightingale 
Fritz Reiner conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1956
RCA

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Rafael Kubelík conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in November 1951
Mercury

VARÈSE Arcana
Jean Martinon conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in March 1966
RCA

This article also appears here.

Frederica von Stade (Robert Millard photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the wonderful American mezzo-soprano, Frederica von Stade!

Von Stade has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on several occasions, at the Ravinia Festival and in Carnegie Hall, as follows.

May 1 and 2, 1981, Carnegie Hall
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust
Kenneth Riegel, tenor (May 1)
Peyo Garazzi, tenor (May 2)
José van Dam, baritone
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Solti also led performances of Berlioz’s work at Orchestra Hall in Chicago on April 23 and 25, 1981, prior to the Carnegie Hall performances. Unfortunately, Frederica von Stade had to cancel due to illness. She was replaced by Chicago Symphony Chorus member Mary Beth Stephen on April 23 and Claudine Carlson on April 25.

Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust was recorded by London in Medinah Temple on May 4, 5, 6, and 7, 1981. James Mallinson was the producer, and James Lock and Simon Eadon were sound engineers. The recording won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Berlioz album cover

July 9, 1988, Ravinia Festival
BERLIOZ Romeo and Juliet
Philip Creech, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

July 14, 1996, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Ch’io mi scordi di te? . . . Non temer, amato bene (with Claude Frank, piano)
MAHLER Songs from Rückert Lieder and Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

August 14, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MOZART “Parto, parto, ma tu, ben mio” from La clemenza di Tito,
LEHÁR “Vilja” and “Lippen schweigen” (with John Aler, tenor) from The Merry Widow
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 8, 2000, Ravinia Festival
Selections from:
COPLAND Old American Songs
KERN Show Boat
OFFENBACH The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein
MOZART Don Giovanni
RODGERS Oklahoma! and South Pacific
SONDHEIM A Little Night Music
with Samuel Ramey, bass
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor

August 5 and 7, 2010, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Così fan tutte
Ana María Martínez, soprano
Ruxandra Donose, mezzo-soprano
Saimir Pirgu, tenor
Rodion Pogossov, baritone
Richard Stilwell, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
James Conlon, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

Sherrill Milnes (Dario Acosta photo)

Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to the legendary American baritone Sherrill Milnes! A native of Downers Grove, Illinois, he also was a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in the beginning of his professional singing career.

Milnes auditioned for Margaret Hillis in 1958 and became a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in time for the beginning its second season. “I was knocked out by Margaret’s personality and musicality,” he said in a March 1976 interview with Winthrop Sargeant for The New Yorker. “Singing under Fritz Reiner could only be a great thrill for an amateur singer, and I was an amateur. It was pre-career. She had all the techniques of a modern choral conductor. For example, ‘staccato du.” It was the first time I had encountered it. To make sure you know the notes, you sing them ‘du-du-du’—each note very short. Also speaking the words to rhythm—in a monotone, with the rhythm of the music but without the melody. She was the first choral conductor I’d ever know who molded the sound of the chorus, making it change color, and so on. She had everybody sing the soprano part where there was a melody, and the same with the bass and other parts. She opened up a whole new world of musical ideas and rehearsal ideas. . . . I’m on the recording of Reiner’s Beethoven Ninth in the chorus [and] Alexander Nevsky with Reiner too. . . . I was hearing phrases thrown at me for the first time, and it was opening up a whole new world.”

Milnes has been a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, all listed below.

December 16, 1961, Orchestra Hall
BACH Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243
HAYDN Mass in D Minor, Hob. XXII:11 (Lord Nelson)
Margaret Hillis, conductor
Maria Ferriero, soprano
Teresa Orantes, soprano
Lili Chookasian, contralto
David Paige, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

February 15, 1964, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Elijah, Op. 70
Margaret Hillis, conductor
Lillian Garabedian, soprano
Marion Vincent, soprano
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Robert Johnson, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 19, 1964, Orchestra Hall
BERLIOZ L’enfance du Christ, Op. 25
Margaret Hillis, director
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
Seth McCoy, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
John West, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

HAYDN July 18, 1965, Ravinia Festival
ORFF Carmina burana
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Pierre Duval, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Alfred Reichel, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Christopher Moore, director

August 7 and 9, 1969, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Aida
Giuseppe Patanè, conductor
Sheldon Patinkin, stage director
Robert Hale, bass-baritone
Lili Chookasian, contralto
Martina Arroyo, soprano
Richard Tucker, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Ara Berberian, bass
Herbert Kraus, tenor
Carolyn Smith-Meyer, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 15 and 17, 1971, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Rigoletto
István Kertész, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Patricia Wise, soprano
John Alexander, tenor
Robert Hale, bass-baritone
John Walker, tenor
Bernard Izzo, baritone
Edna Garabedian, mezzo-soprano
Susan Lutz, mezzo-soprano
Eugene Johnson, bass
Phyllis Kirian, soprano
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 1, 1972, Ravinia Festival
PUCCINI Tosca
James Levine, conductor
Teresa Kubiak, soprano
John Alexander, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Bernard Izzo, baritone
Charles Anthony, tenor
Andrew Földi, bass
Eugene Johnson, bass
Joseph Caccamo, boy soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

July 24, 1976, Ravinia Festival
WALTON Belshazzar’s Feast
André Previn, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus
John Currie, director

July 9, 1978, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Elijah, Op. 70
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Beverly Wolff, mezzo-soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Kirk Stuart, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
John Cheek, bass-baritone
Philip Kraus, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 26, 1981, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Macbeth
James Levine, conductor
Renata Scotto, soprano
Giuliano Ciannella, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
John Cheek, bass-baritone
Timothy Jenkins, tenor
Gene Marie Callahan, soprano
Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Sharon Graham, mezzo-soprano
Duane Clenton Carter, baritone
Rush Tully, bass-baritone
Terry Cook, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis and James Winfied, directors

June 27, 1992, Ravinia Festival
SAINT-SAËNS Samson and Delilah
James Levine, conductor
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone
Sergei Koptchak, bass
David Anderson, tenor
John Concepcion, tenor
Paul Grizzell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Milnes also gave one recital under the auspices of Allied Arts (now Symphony Center Presents):

February 14, 1987, Orchestra Hall
Jon Spong, piano
MONDONVILLE Eole’s Aria from Titon et l’Aurore
LULLY Bois épais from Amadis
GRÉTRY O Richard, O mon roi from Richard Coeur-de-lion
SCHUBERT An die Leier, D. 737
SCHUBERT Die Liebe hat gelogen, D. 751
SCHUBERT Kriegers Ahnung from Schwanengesang, D. 957
SCHUBERT Die Allmacht, D. 852
SANTOLIQUIDO Le domandai
SANTOLIQUIDO Quando le domandai
SANTOLIQUIDO Io mi levai dal centro della terra
SANTOLIQUIDO Riflessi
MOZART Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo, K. 584
McGILL Duna
COPLAND The World Feels Dusty from Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson
TRADITIONAL/Copland At the River
arr. Dalway Love Trapped Me
arr. Dalway Killiney Strand
DUKE Luke Havergal
SAINT-SAËNS Qui donc commande from Henry VIII
Encores:
MOZART Fin ch’han dal vino calda la testa from Don Giovanni, K. 527
TRADITIONAL Shenandoah
TRADITIONAL/Britten Oliver Cromwell (sung by Spong with Milnes at the piano)
GIORDANO Nemico della patria from Andrea Chénier

Happy, happy birthday!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the death of Israeli mezzo-soprano Mira Zakai, who died on May 20, 2019. She was seventy-six.

Mira Zakai in 2013 (Daniel Tchetchik photo)

Zakai appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on several notable occasions, both in the concert hall and in the recording studio. A complete list is below.

MOZART Mass in C Major, K. 317 (Coronation)
March 13, 14, and 15, 1980, Orchestra Hall
Rafael Kubelík, conductor
Lucia Popp, soprano
Mira Zakai, mezzo-soprano
Alexander Oliver, tenor
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Originally recorded by WFMT for radio broadcast, this was released on the CSO’s From the Archives, vol. 13 (Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration).

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
May 5, 6, 7, and 8, 1980, Medinah Temple, (recording sessions only)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Mira Zakai, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
The symphony was performed in Orchestra Hall on April 24, 25, and 26 in Orchestra Hall and on May 2 and 3, 1980, in Carnegie Hall with Buchanan and Christa Ludwig as soloists. James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock and John Dunkerley were the balance engineers for London Records. The recording won the 1981 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Orchestral Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
October 2, 3, 4, and 6, 1980, Orchestra Hall
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Faye Robinson, soprano (October 2, 3, and 4)
Jill Gomez, soprano (October 6)
Teresa Cahill, soprano
Jo Ann Pickens, soprano
Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Mira Zakai, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel, tenor (October 2, 3, and 4)
Dennis Bailey, tenor (October 6)
Brent Ellis, baritone
Theo Adam, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

SCHOENBERG Moses und Aron
April 19 and 21, 1984, Orchestra Hall
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Franz Mazura, speaker
Philip Langridge, tenor
Barbara Bonney, soprano
Daniel Harper, tenor
Kurt Link, baritone
Aage Haugland, bass
Mira Zakai, mezzo-soprano
Herbert Wittges, baritone
Thomas Dymit, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Members of the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
The opera was recorded in Orchestra Hall on April 23, 24, 30, and May 1, 1984. James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock and John Pellowe were the engineers for London Records. The recording won the 1985 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

We have just heard news of the death of the wonderful Irish soprano Heather Harper, as reported in The Guardian. She was 88.

Harper appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions, as listed below (all appearances are subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

April 3, 4, and 5, 1969
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Georg Solti, conductor
Helen Watts, contralto
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 11 and 12, 1969
HAYDN The Creation
Georg Solti, conductor
Stuart Burrows, tenor
Giorgio Tozzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

August 30, 31 & September 1, 1971 (recording sessions at the Sofiensaal in Vienna)
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Georg Solti, conductor
Lucia Popp, soprano
Arleen Augér, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
René Kollo, tenor
John Shirley-Quirk, bass-baritone
Martti Talvela, bass
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Norbert Balatsch, chorus master
Singverein Chorus
Helmut Froschauer, chorus master
Vienna Boys’ Choir
David Harvey produced the recording, and Gordon Parry and Kenneth Wilkinson were the engineers for London Records. The recording won the 1972 Grammy Award for Album of the Year—Classical, Best Choral Performance—Classical (other than opera), and Best Engineered Recording—Classical from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Mahler's Symphony no. 8 in E-flat Major, recorded in Vienna in 1971

Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 in E-flat Major, recorded in Vienna in 1971

March 30, 31, and April 1, 1972
HANDEL Jephtha
Margaret Hillis, conductor
Helen Watts, contralto
Richard Lewis, tenor
Robert Johnson, tenor
Barry McDaniel, baritone
Boris Carmeli, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

October 12, 13, and 14, 1972
VIVALDI Gloria
ROSSINI Stabat mater
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
Raffaele Arié, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

March 7, 8, and 9, 1974
TIPPETT Symphony No. 3
Sir Michael Tippett, conductor

April 12 and 13, 1974
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Helen Watts, contralto
Jerry Jennings, tenor
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Philip Booth, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (IMG Artists photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the celebrated New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa!

With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Te Kanawa has appeared in concert—in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Carnegie Hall—and on recording on a number of notable occasions. The complete list is below.

May 4, 5, and 6, 1978, Orchestra Hall
May 12, 1978, Carnegie Hall
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded at Medinah Temple on May 15 and 16, 1978. For London Records, James Mallinson was the recording producer, and Kenneth Wilkinson and Colin Moorfoot were the balance engineers.

March 23, 24, 25, and 26, 1983, Orchestra Hall
DUPARC Melodies françaises
MAHLER Symphony No. 4 in G Major
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Mahler’s Fourth Symphony was recorded in Orchestra Hall on April 28 and 29, 1983. For London Records, James Mallinson was the recording producer, and James Lock and John Dunkerley were the balance engineers.

October 1, 2, and 9, 1984, Orchestra Hall (recording sessions only)
HANDEL Messiah
Anne Gjevang, contralto
Keith Lewis, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis director
For London Records, Ray Minshull was the recording producer, and James Lock and Simon Eadon were the balance engineers.
Handel’s
Messiah also was performed on subscription concerts on September 27, 28, and 29, 1984. In addition to the cast above, Elizabeth Hynes was the soprano soloist.

June 29, 1985, Ravinia Festival
HANDEL Let the Bright Seraphim from Samson
MOZART Bella mia fiamma, K. 528
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
James Levine, conductor

March 19 and 21, 1987
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Tom Krause, bass
Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor
Olaf Bär, baritone
Richard Cohn, baritone
Patrice Michaels, soprano
Debra Austin, mezzo-soprano
William Watson, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on March 23, 24, 28, 30, and 31, 1987. For London Records, Andrew Cornall was the recording producer, and Simon Eadon and John Pellowe were the balance engineers.

Sir Georg Solti leads the Orchestra along with Plácido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa in the final scene from act 1 of Verdi’s Otello on October 9, 1987 (Jim Steere photo)

June 28, 1987, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Così fan tutte, K. 588
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Jerry Hadley, tenor
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
John Cheek, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Richard Garrin, director
James Levine, conductor

October 9, 1987, Orchestra Hall (A Concert in Honor of the 75th Birthday of Sir Georg Solti)
VERDI Excerpts from Act 1 of Otello
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Joseph Wolverton, tenor
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
David Huneryager, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
The concert was recorded for radio broadcast, and for WFMT, Norman Pellegrini was the producer and Mitchell G. Heller was the engineer. The duet “Già nella notte densa” was released on Solti: The Legacy in 2012, and for London Records, Matthew Sohn was the restoration engineer.

April 8 and 12, 1991, Orchestra Hall
April 16 and 19, 1991, Carnegie Hall
VERDI Otello
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Leo Nucci, baritone
Elzbieta Ardam, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
John Keyes, tenor
Dimitri Kavrakos, bass
Alan Opie, baritone
Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Terry Edwards, guest chorus master
Chicago Children’s Choir (April 8 and 12)
Leslie Britton, director
Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus (April 16 and 19)
Elena Doria, director
Recorded live in Orchestra Hall on April 8 and 12 and in Carnegie Hall on April 16 and 19, 1991. For London Records, Michael Haas was the recording producer, Christopher Pope was the assistant recording producer, and James Lock and John Pellowe were the balance engineers.

July 28, 2001, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
LÉHAR “Lippen Schweigen” from Die lustige Witwe
LÉHAR “Vilja” from Die lustige Witwe
LÉHAR “Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss” from Giuditta
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 19, 2008, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Morgen!, Op. 27, No. 4
STRAUSS Ständchen, Op. 17, No.2
STRAUSS Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2
CANTELOUBE Baïlèro, La delaïssádo, and Lo fiolairé from Chants d’Auvergne
PUCCINI Mi chiamano Mimì and Donde lieta uscì from La bohème
CILEA Io son l’umile ancella from Adriana Lecouvreur
James Conlon, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

Kiri Te Kanawa and Luciano Pavarotti onstage at Orchestra Hall in April 1991 (Jim Steere photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the wonderful American mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar!

A frequent guest in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, Quivar has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on numerous occasions, as follows:

Florence Quivar (Kenn Duncan photo)

June 21, 1980, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
James Levine, conductor

July 3, 1980, Ravinia Festival
SCHUBERT Mass No. 6 in E-flat Major, D. 950
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Philip Creech, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

July 13, 1980, Ravinia Festival
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Philip Creech, tenor
Arthur Thompson, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

April 8, 9, and 10, 1982, Orchestra Hall
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Yvonne Kenny, soprano
Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

June 24, 1983, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Leona Mitchell, soprano
Ermanno Mauro, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

June 29, 1984, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Johanna Meier, soprano
Judith Blegen, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Giuliano Ciannella, tenor
Ryan Edwards, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Wisconsin Conservatory Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hawkins, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
James Levine, conductor

July 1, 1984, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
Judith Blegen, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 2 and 3, 1984. For Deutsche Grammophon, Cord Garben was the recording supervisor, and Klaus Scheibe was the recording engineer.

July 13, 1986, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Benita Valente, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

Benita Valenta, Quivar, Philip Creech, and John Cheek onstage with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Mozart’s Requiem at the Ravinia Festival on July 13, 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

July 10, 1987, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Kaaren Erickson, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Karen Williams, soprano
Hillary Johnsson, mezzo-soprano
Timothy Jenkins, tenor
Thomas Hampson, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Milwaukee Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hawkins, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
Lucy Ding, director
James Levine, conductor

June 22, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

June 23, 1991, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Mass in C Minor, K. 427
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Peter Kazaras, tenor
Terry Cook, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

July 7, 1991, Ravinia Festival
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Philip Langridge, tenor
Donald Kaasch, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Jan-Hendrik Rootering, bass
F. Murray Abraham, narrator
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on July 9 and 10, 1991. For Deutsche Grammophon, Christopher Adler was the producer, Gregor Zielinsky was the balance engineer, Klaus Behrens and Wolf-Dieter Karwatky were the recording engineers, and Reinhard Lagemann was the editor. 

February 26, 27, 28, and 29, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Richard Garrin, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Lucy Ding, director
Zubin Mehta, conductor

November 17, 18, 19, and 22, 1994, Orchestra Hall
CHAUSSON Poem of Love and the Sea, Op. 19
Antonio Pappano, conductor

May 30, 31, and June 1, 1996, Medinah Temple
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Sharon Sweet, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Ying Huang, soprano
Janis Taylor, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Richard Zeller, baritone
Eric Halfvarson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Waukegan Concert Chorus
Don Horisberger, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Sandra Prodan Murphy, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 23, 1996, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Shinobu Satoh, soprano
Richard Leech, tenor
Roberto Scandiuzzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 7, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

June 30, 2001, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Adina Nitescu, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
John Relyea, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

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Theodore Thomas

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