You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Duain Wolfe’ tag.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone, who died earlier today, July 6, 2020, in Rome following complications from a fall last week. He was ninety-one.

Ennio Morricone (Tammie Arroyo photo)

Riccardo Muti, writing from Paestum, expressed that Morricone was “a maestro for whom I had friendship and admiration. I conducted his Voices from the Silence which received a very emotional response from the audience. An extraordinary musician not only for film music but also for classical compositions. Ennio Morricone will be missed as a man and as an artist.” (Last evening, Maestro Muti led a Roads of Friendship concert—dedicated to the city of Palmyra in Syria—at the Archaeological Park of Paestum, in the province of Salerno in Campania, Italy.)

Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Morricone’s Voices from the Silence on February 6, 7, and 8, 2014. Ora Jones was the narrator and Duain Wolfe prepared the Chorus.

“It was Riccardo Muti who suggested Morricone compose a work that paid tribute to 9/11 which Muti would premiere at the Ravenna Festival,” wrote Phillip Huscher, the CSO’s program annotator. “The Ravenna Festival began its series, Roads of Friendship, in 1997, by taking concerts to crisis points around Europe and beyond, including Sarajevo, Beirut, Jerusalem, and Istanbul. Voci dal silencio (Voices from the silence) now added another city, New York—one that had only recently been thought of as a crisis point—to the list. Four years after the Ravenna premiere, Voices from the Silence was performed at the United Nations, with Morricone on the podium.

Riccardo Muti and Ennio Morricone acknowledge applause following the CSO’s first performance of Voices from the Silence on February 6, 2014 (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Voices from the Silence is a cantata for chorus, narrator, prerecorded sounds, and orchestra. Morricone said he composed the score in response to ‘the terrorist attacks of September 11 and all the massacres of humanity all over the world.’ At the head of the score, Morricone writes: ‘Against terrorism, against racism, and all forms of ethnic persecution. For equality among all people.’ For his text, Morricone turned to a poem by the South African writer Richard Rive, who was born and raised in Cape Town’s District Six, a lively multiracial community that was condemned as a slum in 1966, bulldozed, and rezoned exclusively for whites. ‘I always feel when I am here in District Six that I am standing over a vast cemetery of people who have been moved away against their will,’ he said in 1988. ‘The legacy of District Six is to show what avarice and political bigotry can do.’ The following year, Rive was found murdered in his house near Cape Town. He had been stabbed several times and beaten in the face. A solitary man without family, Rive lives on in his highly charged writings about oppression.” (The program book is available here.)

Morricone’s music has been performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on several other occasions, as follows:

July 15, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MORRICONE Main Theme from The Untouchables
Erich Kunzel, conductor

February 25, 2005, Orchestra Hall
MORRICONE Main Theme from The Untouchables
Richard Kaufman, conductor

February 25, 2011, Orchestra Hall
MORRICONE/Mancini Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission
Richard Kaufman, conductor

June 26, 2014, Morton Arboretum
MORRICONE Main Theme from The Untouchables
Richard Kaufman, conductor

July 29, 2017, Ravinia Festival
MORRICONE/Williams Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso
James Conlon, conductor
Itzhak Perlman, violin

Tributes have been posted at the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and The New York Times, along with the composer’s website and countless other news outlets.

 

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!

Christoph Eschenbach (Eric Brissaud photo)

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to German pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach!

Eschenbach’s association with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra began over fifty years ago, when he was piano soloist in the U.S. premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s Second Piano Concerto under the baton of the composer on January 30, 31, and February 1, 1969, in Orchestra Hall. “For all its integrated construction, the concerto depends greatly upon the soloist. So much, in fact, that it is difficult to imagine the work succeeding if Christoph Eschenbach were not at the keyboard,” wrote Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune. “The harder the passages, the more he seems to relish their challenge . . . he can drive a climax to its emotional peak and the next moment be spinning delicate filigree requiring the greatest control and concentration.”

At the Ravinia Festival, Eschenbach made his debut as piano soloist on July 25, 1973, in Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Riccardo Muti—in his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—on the podium. As a conductor, Eschenbach first led the Orchestra at Ravinia on August 3, 1978, in an all-Beethoven program: the Second Piano Concerto (conducting from the keyboard) and the Third Symphony.

In Orchestra Hall, he first led the Orchestra (as a last-minute replacement for Klaus Tennstedt) in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony on December 20, 21, and 22, 1990. “His credentials as a Mahlerian are impressive,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “He has the force of imagination and perception to fuse the sprawling rhetoric of Mahler’s most tragic symphony into a statement at once structurally coherent and emotionally compelling. . . . In Eschenbach’s hands, the finale was a true culmination, breathing an air of desperate defiance from first to last. He balanced light and shade, serenity and strife, with a white-hot intensity and concentration not heard here since Georg Solti’s Mahler Sixth years ago.”

1969 publicity flyer for Christoph Eschenbach

To coincide with the Ravinia Festival’s sixtieth season, along with an $11.5 million renovation of the pavilion and grounds, executive director Zarin Mehta announced in September 1994 that Eschenbach would be the festival’s third music director beginning in the summer of 1995.

For his first concert in that capacity on June 29, 1995, Eschenbach led the Orchestra in Rouse’s Phaethon, Bruch’s First Violin Concerto with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Regarding Mahler’s symphony, von Rhein wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “It was a highly individual interpretation, to be sure, but Eschenbach has the command, the control, to make our band share his convictions and carry out his ideas all the way.” In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma added, “The audience was on its feet seconds after the Mahler ended, cheering and applauding, sending up waves of still louder cheers as Eschenbach motioned to CSO principals and soloists, especially brass and woodwinds, to take their bows.”

Eschenbach served the Ravinia Festival through the 2003 summer season. He gave his final concerts as music director with the Orchestra on August 10, leading Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 12 (from the keyboard), Bernstein’s Symphony no. 2 (The Age of Anxiety) with pianist Christopher Taylor, and Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with Lang Lang.

Most recently, he led the Orchestra in Orchestra Hall on February 22, 23, 24, and 27, 2018, leading Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz, Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto with David Fray, and Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Fourth Symphony.

To celebrate his eightieth birthday, Eschenbach returns to the Ravinia Festival in the summer of 2020, to lead the Orchestra in three concerts:

August 7, 2020
KHACHATURIAN Flute Concerto
Stathis Karapanos, flute
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

August 8, 2020
THEODORAKIS (arr. Wastor and Karapanos) Zorbas Suite
Stathis Karapanos, flute
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Erin Wall, soprano
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Paul Appleby, tenor
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

August 9, 2020
KORNGOLD Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
William Hagen, violin
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major

Happy, happy birthday!

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the death of the remarkable German tenor and conductor Peter Schreier, who died in Dresden on December 25, 2019, following a long illness. He was 84.

Schreier appeared in recital and with the Orchestra, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as follows:

March 13, 1995, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT Winterreise, D. 911
Peter Schreier, tenor
Daniel Barenboim, piano

August 4, 1996, Ravinia Festival
SCHUMANN Scenes from Goethe’s Faust
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Rebecca Evans, soprano
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Peter Schreier, tenor
Bo Skovhus, baritone
Alan Held, bass-baritone
Franz-Josef Selig, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Barrington Children’s Choir

March 6, 7, 8, and 11, 1997, Orchestra Hall
BACH The Passion According to Saint Matthew, BWV 244
Peter Schreier, conductor and evangelist
Julie Kaufmann, soprano
Monica Groop, mezzo-soprano
Steve Davislim, tenor
Klaus Mertens, baritone
Peter Lika, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director
Chicago Children’s Choir
William Chin, director

December 16, 17, and 18, 1999
BACH Parts 1, 2, and 3 from Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248
Peter Schreier, conductor and evangelist
Ute Selbig, soprano
Rosemarie Lang, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Cooley, tenor
Egbert Junghanns, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

June 7, 8, 9, and 10, 2001
BACH The Passion According to Saint John, BWV 245
Peter Schreier, conductor and evangelist
Camilla Nylund, soprano
Annette Markert, mezzo-soprano
Marcus Ullmann, tenor
Jörg Hempel, baritone
Stephan Loges, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

March 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16, 2004
HANDEL Messiah
Peter Schreier, conductor
Esther Heideman, soprano
Jane Gilbert, mezzo-soprano
Randal Rushing, tenor
Kevin Burdette, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

Numerous tributes have been posted online at BBC News and AP News, among many others.

Advertisement for Verdi’s Aida with the Metropolitan Opera and the (uncredited) Chicago Orchestra on December 10, 1891 (image courtesy of the Newberry Library)

Less than a month after its inaugural concerts in October 1891, the Chicago Orchestra was in the pit at the Auditorium Theatre for performances with the Metropolitan Opera Company (under the auspices of Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau).

The singers who appeared were among the most famous of the day, including sopranos Emma Albani, Lilli Lehmann, and Marie Van Zandt and mezzo-sopranos Sofia Scalchi and Giulia Ravogli. During the residency, other prominent singers made their U.S. debuts, including soprano Emma Eames; tenor Jean de Reszke; baritones Edoardo Camera, Antonio Magini-Coletti, and Jean Martapoura; and basses Édouard de Reszke and Jules Vinche. Conducting duties were shared by Auguste Vianesi and Louis Saar, the Orchestra’s first guest conductors.

Opening with Wagner’s Lohengrin on November 9, the residency continued through December 12 and included a staggering number of operas: Bellini’s Norma and La sonnambula; Flotow’s Martha; Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice; Gounod’s Faust and Romeo and Juliet; Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana; Meyerbeer’s Dinorah and Les Huguenots; Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Thomas’s Mignon; as well as Verdi’s Rigoletto and act 1 of La traviata.

The residency also included a single performance of Verdi’s Aida on December 10 with Lehmann in the title role, de Reszke as Radamès, Ravogli as Amneris, Magini-Coletti as Amonasro, Enrico Serbolini as Ramfis, Lodovico Viviani as the King, and M. Grossi as the Messenger. The Metropolitan Opera Chorus was prepared by its director, Carlo Corsi, and Louis Saar conducted.

Lilli Lehmann

“Jean de Reszke and Lilli Lehmann bade farewell to Chicago last evening by appearing together in Verdi’s Aida,” wrote the reviewer in the Chicago Tribune. “It was a performance which for superb solo work, excellence of ensemble, and splendor of scenic and spectacular effects has not been equaled in this city—a performance which marked the highest point on the standard of excellence yet reached by the Abbey-Grau company.”

German soprano Lilli Lehmann—under the guidance of Richard Wagner—created the roles of Woglinde (in Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung), Helmwige, and the Forest Bird in the first Ring cycle during the inaugural Bayreuth Festival in 1876. She made her American debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Carmen on November 25, 1885; five days later, she sang Brünnhilde in Die Walküre and the following year Isolde in the American premiere of Tristan and Isolde. Lehmann regularly performed at the Salzburg Festival—also serving as its artistic director—and her operatic repertoire ultimately included 170 roles in 114 operas. A notable teacher, her students included Geraldine Farrar and Olive Fremstad.

“Mme. Lehmann found in Aida a role which permitted a display of her splendid histrionic gifts, and the music to which was more nearly suited to her vocal powers than has been any she has sung this engagement,” continued the Chicago Tribune reviewer. “Her success was, therefore assured and splendidly she achieved it. Her acting of the slave princess was forceful, intense, at all times free from all exaggeration or extravagance. As for her vocal work, it commands unqualified and almost unlimited praise. The ‘Ritorna vincitor’ was given with marvelous appreciation of its sad, troubled character, and the ‘Numi, pietà’ was beautiful in the purity and simplicity of its interpretation. In the long duet with Amneris in act 2, Mme. Lehmann’s singing and acting possessed great power, and in the climax at the end of the act, her voice stood out with telling effect. It was in the third act that the finest vocal work was done. Anything more satisfactory than her singing of the ‘O patria mia’ and the heavy dramatic music which follows cannot be imagined. The ‘Vedi? . . . di morte l’angelo,’ in the last scene of the opera, was exquisite in its delicacy and poetry.”

Jean de Reszke

Born in Poland, Jean de Reszke began his career as a baritone in 1874, debuting in Venice as Alfonso in Donizetti’s La favorita. By 1879, he had made the switch to tenor when he sang the title role in Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable in Madrid. De Reszke was soon a regular at the Paris Opera and at London’s Covent Garden, performing the major French, Wagner, and Verdi roles; the title role in Massenet’s Le Cid—premiered in Paris in 1885—was written for him. His American debut was the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera’s residency with the Chicago Orchestra in the title role of Wagner’s Lohengrin on November 9, 1891. After his debut the following month with the company in New York—as Gounod’s Romeo on December 14—he was a regular with the Metropolitan until his retirement from the stage in 1904, settling in Poland to breed racehorses and Paris to teach singing. His students included Bidu Sayão and Maggie Teyte.

“Jean de Reszke’s triumph as Radamès was a triumph of voice and vocal art. Not that the dramatic side of the character was not developed. It was developed with the same consummate skill which has made his dramatic treatment of every role in which he has seen truly remarkable. But Radamès makes far greater demand upon a tenor’s vocal powers than upon his histrionic. Much of the music is purely lyrical in character, while other portions are strongly dramatic. A singer to do it justice must, therefore, combine the qualities of a tenore de grazia and a tenore robusto—a combination but rarely found. Jean de Reszke is such, however, and his singing of the music of Radamès is not alone satisfactory but an artistic treat of the highest kind. The famed ‘Celeste Aida’ was sung with a smoothness, clearness, and tonal beauty which were the perfection of pure vocal art, while the impassioned music of the third act was delivered with a vigor and intensity and a display of thrilling high notes which showed how dramatic singing may become and yet never cease to be singing nor degenerate into shouting.”

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

Riccardo Muti leads soloists Krassimira Stoyanova, Anita Rachvelishvili, Francesco Meli, Kiril Manolov, Ildar Abdrazakov, Eric Owens, Issachah Savage, Kimberly Gunderson, and Tasha Koontz, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (prepared by Duain Wolfe) in Verdi’s Aida on June 21, 23, and 25, 2019.

Bernard Haitink leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Orchestra Hall on October 31, 2013 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Wishing a very happy ninetieth birthday to the legendary Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink!

In addition to serving as the Chicago Symphony’s principal conductor from 2006 until 2010, Haitink also launched the Orchestra’s CSO Resound record label with the recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony in 2007. A complete list of his appearances and recordings is below.

March 4, 5, and 6, 1976, Orchestra Hall
BACH Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068*
RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
STRAVINSKY Symphony in Three Movements
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 (Scottish)
*Performed in memory of Jean Martinon, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s seventh music director, who died in Paris on March 1, 1976

March 11, 12, and 14, 1976, Orchestra Hall
COWELL Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 3
BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Silvia Marcovici, violin
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 43

January 9, 10, 11, and 12, 1997, Orchestra Hall
BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a
TURNAGE Some Days
Cynthia Clarey, mezzo-soprano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
Mark-Anthony Turnage‘s Some Days was recorded live and released by Decca.

January 16, 17, 18, and 21, 1997, Orchestra Hall
BACH Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068*
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Sylvia McNair, soprano
Markella Hatziano, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
*Performed on January 18 only in memory of Ardis Krainik, general manager of Lyric Opera of Chicago, who died on January 18, 1997

March 2, 3, and 4, 2006, Orchestra Hall
WEBER Overture to Der Freischütz
HINDEMITH Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

March 9, 10, and 11, 2006, Orchestra Hall
WEBERN Passacaglia for Orchestra, Op. 1
DEBUSSY La mer
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

October 19, 20, and 21, 2006, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, chorus director
Recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; editing engineering by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

May 10, 11, 12, and 15, 2007, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
LUTOSŁAWSKI Chain 2: Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra
Robert Chen, violin
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony was recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, Christopher Willis was the engineer, and John Newton was the assistant engineer; editing and mixing by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

Haitink along with the Orchestra and Chorus acknowledge applause following a performance of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe on November 8, 2007 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

October 18, 19, 20, and 23, 2007, Orchestra Hall
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor
Mahler’s Sixth Symphony was recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; editing and mixing by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

October 25, 26, and 27, 2007, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183
TURNAGE Chicago Remains
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Emanuel Ax, piano
Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Chicago Remains was a world premiere, composed in memory of Sir John Drummond. The work was co-commissioned for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by the Edward F. Schmidt Family Commissioning Fund and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation.

November 8, 9, and 10, 2007, Orchestra Hall
POULENC Gloria
Jessica Rivera, soprano
RAVEL Daphnis and Chloe
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; audio post-production by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

May 1, 2, and 3, 2008, Orchestra Hall
May 15, 2008, Carnegie Hall
RAVEL Menuet antique
LIEBERSON Neruda Songs
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Mahler’s First Symphony was recorded live in Orchestra Hall. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; audio post-production by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

May 8, 9, 10, 11, and 13, 2008, Orchestra Hall
May 16, 2008, Carnegie Hall
HADYN Symphony No. 101 in D Major (The Clock)
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4 in C Major, Op. 43
Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony was recorded live in Orchestra Hall. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; audio post-production by Classic Sound Limited, UK. The recording won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

July 16, 2008, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

September 5, 2008, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

September 6, 2008, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
September 9, 2008, Royal Albert Hall, London, England
September 13, 2008, Kultur- & Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491
Murray Perahia, piano
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 43

September 8, 2008, Royal Albert Hall, London, England
TURNAGE Chicago Remains
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

September 12, 2008, Kultur- & Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

November 20, 21, 22, and 25, 2008, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Miah Persson, soprano
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; audio post-production by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

November 28, 29, and 30, 2008, Orchestra Hall
HAYDN Symphony No. 44 in E Minor (Mourning)
LUTOSŁAWSKI Symphony No. 4
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
Murray Perahia, piano

December 4, 5, and 6, 2008, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Robert Chen, violin
Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben was recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; audio post-production by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

December 9, 2008, Orchestra Hall
HAYDN Symphony No. 101 in D Minor (The Clock)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

January 31, 2009, Minato Mirai Hall, Yokohama, Japan
February 4, 2009, Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
February 6, 2009, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Robert Chen, violin

February 1, 2009, Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
February 7, 2009, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong
February 11, 2009, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai, China
February 13, 2009, National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, China
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

February 3, 2009, Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan
February 10, 2009, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai, China
February 14, 2009, National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, China
HAYDN Symphony No. 101 in D Major (The Clock)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

April 16, 17, 18, and 21, 2009, Orchestra Hall
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor

April 23, 24, and 25, 2009, Orchestra Hall
WEBERN Im Sommerwind
MAHLER Rückert Lieder
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)
Webern’s Im Sommerwind was recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; audio post-production by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

April 28, 2009, Orchestra Hall
WEBERN Im Sommerwind
MAHLER Rückert Lieder
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
Webern’s Im Sommerwind was recorded live. For CSO Resound, James Mallinson was the producer, and Christopher Willis was the engineer; audio post-production by Classic Sound Limited, UK.

May 2, 2009, Carnegie Hall
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor

May 3, 2009, Carnegie Hall
WEBERN Im Sommerwind
MAHLER Rückert Lieder
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo-soprano
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)

May 7, 8, 9, and 10, 2009, Orchestra Hall
PURCELL/Stucky Funeral Music for Queen Mary
BRITTEN Les illuminations, Op. 18
Ian Bostridge, tenor
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 15 in A Major, Op. 141

September 11, 2009, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
September 13, 2009, Kultur- & Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland
September 18, 2009, Grosser Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 15 in A Major, Op. 141

September 14, 2009, Kultur- & Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland
September 16, 2009, Grosser Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria
September 21, 2009, Salle Pleyel, Paris, France
September 24, 2009, Royal Festival Hall, London, England
HAYDN Symphony No. 101 in D Major (The Clock)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

September 20, 2009, Salle Pleyel, Paris, France
September 23, 2009, Royal Festival Hall, London, England
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

November 5, 6, 7, and 10, 2009, Orchestra Hall
RAVEL Alborada del gracioso
RAVEL Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
MENDELSSOHN Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Opp. 21 and 61
Erin Morley, soprano
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Sir Thomas Allen, narrator
Girls of Anima
Emily Ellsworth, chorus director

November 12, 13, and 14, 2009, Orchestra Hall
HAYDN Sinfonia concertante in B-flat Major, Hob. I:105
Eugene Izotov, oboe
David McGill, bassoon
Robert Chen, violin
John Sharp, cello
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor

June 2 and 3, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Overture to Fidelio, Op. 72
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

June 5 and 8, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

June 10 and 11, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 2, Op. 72a
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)

June 15 and 16, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

June 18, 19, and 20, 2010, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Op. 112
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Clifton Forbis, tenor
Eric Owens, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

May 26, 27, 28, and 31, 2011, Orchestra Hall
SCHUMANN Overture to Manfred, Op. 115
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453
Emanuel Ax, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

June 2, 3, 4, and 5, 2011, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

Haitink and the Orchestra onstage in Beijing on February 14, 2009 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Haitink and the Orchestra onstage at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing on February 14, 2009 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

October 20, 21, and 22, 2011, Orchestra Hall
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D. 485
MAHLER Symphony No. 4 in G Major
Klara Ek, soprano

October 27, 28, and 29, 2011, Orchestra Hall
HAYDN The Creation
Klara Ek, soprano
Ian Bostridge, tenor
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

October 25, 26, and 27, 2012, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Erin Wall, soprano
Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

October 31, November 1, 2, and 3, 2013, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Emanuel Ax, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)

April 9, 10, 11, and 14, 2015, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 7

April 28, 29, and 30, 2016, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major, K. 482
Till Fellner, piano
STRAUSS An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64

October 25, 27, and 30, 2018, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Paul Lewis, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major

Happy, happy birthday!

Bernard Rands (Ted Gordon photo)

Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to the Pulitzer Prize–winning British-American composer Bernard Rands!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus have performed several of Rands’s compositions, on subscription concerts in Orchestra Hall as well as on tour to Europe. And during the 2019-20 season, music director Riccardo Muti will lead the Orchestra in the world premiere of the composer’s DREAM for Orchestra.

Below is a complete list of Rands’s works performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

December 2, 3, 4, and 7, 1993, Orchestra Hall
RANDS Le Tambourin, Suites 1 and 2
Pierre Boulez, conductor

May 8, 9, and 11, 2003, Orchestra Hall
RANDS apókryphos
Angela Denoke, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
World premiere. Composed in memory of Margaret Hillis, founder and first director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Commissioned by the Edward F. Schmidt Family Commissioning Fund for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

March 10, 11, and 12, 2005, Orchestra Hall
RANDS Cello Concerto
Johannes Moser, cello
Pierre Boulez, conductor

May 5, 6, 7, and 10, 2011, Orchestra Hall
August 26, 2011, Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria
August 28, 2011, Kultur- & Kongresszentrum, Lucerne, Switzerland
August 31, 2011, Grand Auditorium, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Luxembourg
September 2, 2011, Salle Pleyel, Paris, France
September 5, 2011, Grosser Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria
RANDS Danza Petrificada
Riccardo Muti, conductor
World premiere. Commissioned for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by The Edward F. Schmidt Family Commissioning Fund and written for Written for Mexico in Chicago 2010, a citywide celebration of the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution.

December 19, 20, and 21, 2013, Orchestra Hall
RANDS . . . where the murmurs die . . .
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Compositions by Rands also have been performed on other series at Symphony Center, including:

February 16, 2000, MusicNOW
RANDS Concertino
Amy Mendillo, oboe
Mathieu Dufour, flute
Sean McNeely, clarinet
Mihaela Ionescu, violin
Jenny Gregoire, violin
Clara Takarabe, viola
Katinka Kleijn, cello
Deanne von Rooyen, harp

May 16, 2002, Symphony Center Presents
RANDS Well-a-day!, My dove, and Silently she’s combing from Canti d’amor
Chicago Symphony Singers
Duain Wolfe, conductor

March 19, 2003, MusicNOW
RANDS Well-a-day!, My dove, and Silently she’s combing from Canti d’amor
RANDS My Child from apókryphos
Chicago Symphony Singers
Duain Wolfe, conductor

A number of new recording releases—from NMC Records and Lyrita—are also now available. More details are here.

Happy, happy birthday!

Renée Fleming (Timothy White photo for Decca)

Wishing a very happy sixtieth birthday to the incomparable American soprano Renée Fleming!

For nearly thirty years, Fleming has been a regular guest with the Chicago Symphony, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as follows:

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

January 27, 28, 29, and 30, 1993, Orchestra Hall
FAURÉ Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48
Andreas Schmidt, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Vance George, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

August 5, 1994, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Te Deum from Quattro pezzi sacri
ROSSINI Stabat mater
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano
Gregory Kunde, tenor
Dean Peterson, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

January 15, 16, 17, and 20, 1998, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165
STRAUSS Moonlight Music and Morgen mittag um elf! from Capriccio
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Plácido Domingo and Renée Fleming onstage at Orchestra Hall, January 26, 1998 (Dan Rest photo)

January 26, 1998, Orchestra Hall
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
BERNSTEIN Somewhere from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
ELLINGTON In a Sentimental Mood
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
This special concert—entitled Star-Crossed Lovers—featured Fleming with Plácido Domingo in songs, arias, and duets, along with narrators Lynn Redgrave and Timothy Dalton. The concert was recorded for a Great Performances telecast and a London Records release.

August 8, 1998, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 31, 2004, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Marie Theres’! . . . Hab’ mir’s gelobt and Ist ein Traum from Der Rosenkavalier
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 1, 2004, Ravinia Festival
HANDEL Morrai, sì l’empia tua testa and Ombre, piante from Rodelinda
MASSENET Adieu, notre petite table and Obéissons quand leur voix appellee from Manon
STRAUSS Moonlight Music and Morgen mittag um elf! from Capriccio
TRADITIONAL/Grusin Shenandoah
TRADITIONAL/Grusin The Water is Wide
PORTER So in Love from Kiss Me, Kate
RODGERS You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel
CATALANI Ebben, ne andrò lontana from La Wally
PUCCINI O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi
VERDI Merci jeunes amies from Les vêpres siciliennes
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 5, 2006, Ravinia Festival
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
CILEA Poveri fiori from Adriana Lecouvreur
PUCCINI O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi
PUCCINI Vissi d’arte from Tosca
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor

Chicago Symphony Orchestra opening night gala, October 3, 2009

October 3, 2009, Orchestra Hall
BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
STRAUSS Freundliche Vision, Op. 48, No. 1
STRAUSS Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1
STRAUSS Winterweihe, Op. 48, No. 4
STRAUSS Verführung, Op. 33, No. 1
Paavo Järvi, conductor

July 24, 2010, Ravinia Festival
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

In recital, Fleming also has appeared in Orchestra Hall on three occasions:

October 27, 1996
SCHUBERT Die Männer sind méchant, D. 866, No. 3
SCHUBERT Du bist die Ruh, D. 776
SCHUBERT Im Frühling, D. 882
SCHUBERT Der Tod und das Mädchen, D. 531
SCHUBERT Nacht und Träume, D. 827
SCHUBERT Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118
STRAUSS Befreit, Op. 39, No. 4
STRAUSS Muttertändelei, Op. 43, No. 2
STRAUSS Waldseligkeit, Op. 49, No. 1
STRAUSS Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2
WOLF Heiß’ mich nicht reden (Mignon I)
WOLF Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (Mignon II)
WOLF So laßt mich scheinen (Mignon III)
WOLF Kennst du das Land (Mignon’s Song)
FAURÉ Lydia, Op. 4, No. 2
FAURÉ Clair de lune, Op. 46, No. 2
FAURÉ Chanson d’amour, Op. 27, No. 1
FAURÉ Les roses d’Ispahan, Op. 39, No. 4
FAURÉ Après un rêve, Op. 7, No. 1
ELLINGTON Prelude to a Kiss
ELLINGTON Do Nothin’ till You Hear from Me
ELLINGTON In a Sentimental Mood
ELLINGTON It Don’t Mean a Thing
Christoph Eschenbach, piano

January 24, 1999
SCHUBERT Suleika I, D. 720
SCHUBERT Scene from Faust, D. 126
SCHUBERT Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118
GLINKA Gretchen am Spinnrade
LISZT Kennst du das Land, S. 275/1
MENDELSSOHN Suleika, Op. 57, No. 3
WOLF Heiss mich nicht reden (Mignon I)
WOLF Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (Mignon II)
WOLF So lasst mich scheinen (Mignon III)
WOLF Kennst du das Land (Mignon IV)
DEBUSSY Ariettes oubliée
STRAUSS Einerlei, Op. 69, No. 3
STRAUSS Ich trage meine Minne, Op. 32, No. 1
STRAUSS Efeu from Mädchenblumen, Op. 22, No. 3
STRAUSS All mein’ Gedanken, Op. 21, No. 1
STRAUSS Morgen!, Op. 27, No. 4
STRAUSS Ich liebe dich, Op. 37, No. 2
Steven Blier, piano

April 18, 2004
HANDEL Ritorna, o caro e dolce mio tesoro from Rodelinda
HANDEL Mio caro bene! from Rodelinda
SCHUBERT Lachen und Weinen, D. 777
SCHUBERT Die Männer sind méchant, D. 866, No. 3
SCHUBERT Du bist die Ruh, D. 776
SCHUBERT Seligkeit, D. 433
BERG Seven Early Songs
PREVIN The Giraffes Go to Hamburg
RAVEL Shéhérazade
Mary Stolper, flute and alto flute
Richard Bado, piano

And be sure to catch Fleming with Evgeny Kissin in recital next season at Symphony Center, on Sunday, April 19, 2020!

Happy, happy birthday!

Under the leadership of chorus directors Margaret Hillis and Duain Wolfe, the Chicago Symphony Chorus has won ten Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Choral Performance.*

Recordings have been led by music directors Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Muti, principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez, and Ravinia Festival music director James Levine on RCA, London, Deutsche Grammophon, and CSO Resound.

1977 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer

1978 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977, for London
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes, balance engineers

1979 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 15 and 16, 1978, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and Colin Moorfoot, balance engineers

1982 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 4, 5, 6, and 7, 1981, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
James Lock and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1983 – Best Choral Performance
HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia Greenberg, soprano
Norma Burrowes, soprano
Rudiger Wohlers, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass
David Schrader, harpsichord
Frank Miller, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 9, 10, and 11, 1981, for London
Paul Myers, recording producer
James Lock and John Dunkerley, balance engineers

1984 – Best Choral Performance
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
James Levine, conductor
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 5 and 6, 1983, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer
John Newton and Thomas MacCluskey, engineers

1986 – Best Choral Performance
ORFF Carmina burana
James Levine, conductor
June Anderson, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 9 and 10, 1984, for Deutsche Grammophon
Steven Paul, producer
Cord Garben, recording supervisor
Klaus Scheibe, recording engineer
Jürgen Bulgrin, editing

1991 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
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 Shimmell, baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Richard Webster, organ
John Sharp, cello
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 25, 26, and 28, 1990, for London
Michael Haas, recording producer
Stanley Goodall and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1993 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BARTÓK Cantata profana
Pierre Boulez, conductor
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 16, 1991, for Deutsche Grammophon
Alison Ames, executive producer
Karl-August Naegler, recording producer
Rainer Maillard, balance engineer
Oliver Rosalla, editing

2010 – Best Choral Performance
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 15, 16, and 17, 2009, for CSO Resound
Christopher Alder, producer
Christopher Willis, recording engineer
David Frost and Tom Lazarus, mixing
Silas Brown and David Frost, stereo mastering

*The name of the category has changed slightly over the years; see here for details.

Fritz Reiner (Oscar Chicago photo)

One of Fritz Reiner’s primary goals, early in his tenure as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s sixth music director, was to program major choral works. However, the repertory he wished to perform was, in his opinion, too demanding for the amateur and student groups usually engaged.

While visiting New York in February 1954, Reiner observed a rehearsal of the New York Concert Choir, under the direction of its founder, Margaret Hillis. He was so impressed that on his return to Chicago, Reiner convinced the board of trustees to hire Hillis and her ensemble for performances the following season of Barber’s recently composed Prayers of Kirkegaard and Orff’s Carmina burana, both new to the Orchestra’s repertoire. (For performances of Beethoven’s “less demanding” Ninth Symphony, the local Swedish Choral Club was engaged.)

Margaret Hillis

Hillis and the New York Concert Choir first traveled to Chicago in March 1955 for three performances of the works by Barber and Orff. Roger Dettmer, writing for the American, exclaimed, “it was Miss Hillis’s magnificent choir of sixty which matched most closely the Orchestra’s astonishing virtuosity by giving Dr. Reiner the fullest measure of choral artistry.” In the Daily News, Irving Sablosky added, “We’re not used to hearing choral singing of such refinement and nuance in symphony concerts. I hope we’ll hear more.”

Despite scheduling challenges, Reiner reengaged Hillis the following season for Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Bruckner’s Te Deum in January 1956. Dettmer wrote that the Orchestra and “Margaret Hillis’s magnificent [choir], easily the finest professional chorus in this country today, [performed] with uncommon brilliance, and maestro himself was in supremely spirited command.”

For the 1957–58 season, Reiner hoped to perform and record Verdi’s Requiem, and again he contacted Hillis. The New York Concert Choir averaged only sixty voices, and she informed Reiner they would need nearly double that in order to do justice to the Verdi. It would simply be too expensive.

This impasse gave Reiner an idea. He persuaded board president Eric Oldberg to hire Hillis to organize a chorus permanently affiliated with the Orchestra in Chicago. She initially agreed to advise on how to audition a director and choristers, but Reiner insisted there would be no chorus unless Hillis herself was the director. At the trustees meeting on September 20, 1957, Oldberg reported on successful negotiations and the plan to hire Hillis was approved.

Chicago Tribune, September 22, 1957

“As choral literature takes on increasing importance in the orchestral sphere, the Chicago Symphony is making its move to institutionalize the trend,” wrote Seymour Raven in the Chicago Tribune on September 22. “From Orchestra Hall comes word that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus is to be a new factor in the city’s musical life.”

Auditions began on October 5, and in less than two weeks the Sun-Times reported that they had “produced an exceptionally high rate of successful applicants. . . . Skill in sight-reading, interpretative ability, and voice quality were the main prerequisites for success. Voices with a tremolo or breathless quality were automatically rejected.” On October 13, the Daily News advertised that auditions were continuing: “Men’s voices are still urgently needed.”

Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1957

The Chicago Symphony Chorus, nearly one hundred voices strong, began rehearsals on October 28, and on November 30, the ensemble made an informal debut at a private concert for guarantors and sustaining members. On the first half of the concert, Reiner led Cailliet’s orchestration of Bach’s Little G minor fugue and Strauss’s Oboe Concerto (with principal Ray Still), and after intermission, Hillis took the podium, becoming the first woman to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She led the Orchestra and Chorus in Thompson’s Alleluia and Billings’s Modern Music (both a cappella), the final section of Purcell’s Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day, and the Servants’ Chorus from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Dettmer reported in the American that the debut was “more than promising . . . Miss Hillis’s choristers were fresh-voiced, musically sensitive, already balanced internally . . . she has accomplished much in the briefest time span.”

When popular guest conductor Bruno Walter informed the Orchestral Association that his March 1958 appearances would be his last in Chicago, Oldberg insisted that he should lead Mozart’s Requiem with the new chorus as his swansong. To prepare for both sets of concerts, Hillis and the Chorus began their work in earnest on Mozart’s and Verdi’s requiems, with Reiner regularly attending rehearsals.

Chicago Tribune, March 14, 1958

On March 13 and 14, 1958, the Chicago Symphony Chorus made its official debut in Mozart’s Requiem, under Walter’s baton with soloists Maria Stader, Maureen Forrester, David Lloyd, and Otto Edelmann. In the Chicago Tribune, Claudia Cassidy wrote: “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is in high estate, with the kind of clairvoyance that gives a conductor what he wants in sound. . . . The evening’s card up the Mozartean sleeve was the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus of about 100 voices, expertly chosen and admirably trained by Margaret Hillis. It had balance and hints of brilliance, it was adroit in attack and it had moments of reassuringly imaginative song. The Confutatis in particular caught the haunted terror that was Mozart’s when the mysterious commission for the Requiem convinced him that the death knell he wrote was his own.”

Program page for Verdi’s Requiem, performed on April 3 and 4, 1958. It was repeated the following Tuesday, April 8.

Less than a month later, the Chorus appeared in Verdi’s Requiem with Reiner conducting and soloists Leonie Rysanek, Regina Resnik, David Lloyd, and Giorgio Tozzi. In the Sun-Times, Robert C. Marsh wrote that “Miss Hillis’s chorus proved its virtues earlier this season. Again its excellent enunciation, reliable intonation, and intelligent response were praiseworthy.”*

The following season, at Reiner’s invitation, Hillis conducted the Orchestra and Chorus in Honegger’s Christmas Cantata in December 1958. In the Daily News, Donal Henahan wrote, “Miss Hillis, who has been until now unknown except by name to most symphony subscribers, ruled her vast forces with a firm beat and a sure hand.” And the critic in the American noted, “With a clear (if inflexible) beat, Miss Hillis marshalled her forces, choral and orchestra, in a tight, sensitive, sweet-sounding statement of the music. . . . All in all, a glorious Christmas program.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus onstage in March 1959. Also pictured is chorus director Margaret Hillis, music director Fritz Reiner, and associate conductor Walter Hendl (Oscar Chicago photo).

Later that season in March 1959, Reiner led Prokofiev’s cantata Alexander Nevsky. “The climactic ‘Battle on the Ice’ was approached with expansive calm and deliberation. . . . A conductor who tries to pile climax after climax into this work can never achieve the hair-raising thrust that Reiner drew from Margaret Hillis’s Chicago Symphony Chorus at such a moment,” observed Henahan in the Daily News. The Chorus “produced a pleasing sound in all voices and a more homogeneous tone than at any time since Miss Hillis began her missionary work in Chicago.” On March 7, Reiner, the Orchestra, and Chorus committed their performance to disc for RCA, collaborating for the first time in recording sessions.

The Chorus’s first recording with the Orchestra: Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, released by RCA in May 1960

Margaret Hillis directed the Chicago Symphony Chorus for thirty-seven years, preparing and leading concerts—in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, as well as on tour to Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, and Salzburg’s Grosses Festspielhaus—and amassing an award-winning discography. Following her death in February 1998, the Rosenthal Archives received her collection of papers, photographs, over 1,000 scores bearing her markings, awards (including nine Grammy statuettes), recordings, and memorabilia. Representing an exceptional and pioneering career, the collection is regularly accessed by researchers, scholars, and musicians.

In June 1994, following an international search, music director Daniel Barenboim appointed Duain Wolfe to succeed Hillis. Currently in his twenty-fourth season, Wolfe continues in Hillis’s tradition, maintaining the Chorus’s extraordinarily high standards of excellence.

*Due to scheduling conflicts, Reiner was unable to get the soloists—primarily Zinka Milanov and Jussi Björling—he wanted to record Verdi’s Requiem in Chicago. He, along with Leontyne Price, Rosalind Elias, Björling (in his last commercial recording), and Giorgio Tozzi, recorded it in Vienna in June 1960 with the Vienna Singverein and Philharmonic for RCA.

This article also appears in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s March 2018 program book and here.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

csoarchives twitter feed

chicagosymphony twitter feed

ChicagoSymphony Instagram

disclaimer

The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

visitors

  • 368,924 hits
%d bloggers like this: