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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!

Samuel Ramey (Christian Steiner photo)

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

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

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

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

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

Samuel Ramey (Steven Leonard photo)

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

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

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

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

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

Happy, happy birthday!

Ozawa headshot

Congratulations to Seiji Ozawa—the Ravinia Festival‘s first music director from 1964 until 1968—who will be a recipient of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors! Additional honorees, announced today, include American rock band the Eagles, singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, and actress Cicely Tyson.

The gala event will be broadcast on CBS on December 29, 2015.

As a last-minute replacement for Georges Prêtre in July 1963, Seiji Ozawa was called upon to lead the Orchestra in two concerts at the Ravinia Festival. The twenty-seven-year-old conductor made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on July 16, leading Beethoven’s Leonore Overture no. 3, Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Byron Janis, and Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony. Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune reported that Ozawa was “instantly in command when in possession of a baton and a musical idea. His conducting technique reminds you of his teacher, Herbert von Karajan, in that it lays the score in the lap of the orchestra with transparency of gesture and human communication, then commands acceptance.” On July 18, he conducted Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Christian Ferras, Debussy’s Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun, Takemitsu’s Requiem for Strings, and selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

June 16, 1964

June 16, 1964

Only a month later it was announced that Ozawa would become the Ravinia Festival’s first music director and resident conductor beginning with the 1964 season, replacing Walter Hendl, who had served as artistic director since 1959. For his first concert as music director on June 16, 1964, Ozawa led the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Barber’s Piano Concerto with John Browning, and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

He served as music director of the Ravinia Festival through the 1968 season and as principal conductor for the 1969 season, returning regularly as a guest conductor. Ozawa most recently appeared there on July 14, 1985, leading Mozart’s Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D major and Takemitsu’s riverrun with Peter Serkin, along with Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony.

Ozawa LP

Between 1965 and 1970—both at Orchestra Hall and in Medinah Temple—Ozawa and the Orchestra recorded a number of works for both Angel and RCA, including Bartók’s First and Third piano concertos and Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with Peter Serkin, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade with concertmaster Victor Aitay, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, among numerous others.

Ozawa most recently appeared in Chicago at Orchestra Hall on February 9, 1996, leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by Duain Wolfe), Heidi Grant Murphy, and Michelle DeYoung in Mahler’s Second Symphony; and on January 10, 2001, conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the Saito Kinen Orchestra.

Congratulations, Maestro Ozawa!

Lorin Maazel (Ben Spiegel photo)

Lorin Maazel (Ben Spiegel photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Lorin Maazel, a frequent and beloved guest conductor for forty years, from 1973 until 2013. Maazel died on July 13, 2014, at his Castleton Farms estate in Virginia. He was 84.

Maazel made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February and March 1973, leading two weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall as well as a run-out to Milwaukee:

February 22, 23 & 24, 1973
February 26, 1973 (Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43
BARTÓK Two Images, Op. 10
SCRIABIN The Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54

March 1, 2 & 3, 1973
MARTIRANO Contrasts for Orchestra
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

Mstislav Rostropovich and Lorin Maazel, following their performance of the first movement of Dvořák's Cello Concerto at the Centennial Gala on October 6, 1990

Mstislav Rostropovich and Lorin Maazel, following their performance of the first movement of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto at the Centennial Gala on October 6, 1990

During his forty-year collaboration with the Orchestra, Maazel’s repertoire covered a wide range of composers, including Beethoven, Brahms, Hindemith, Holst, Kernis, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Penderecki, Prokofiev, Respighi, Strauss, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Wagner. He was one of several conductors invited to share the podium for the CSO’s Centennial Gala on October 6, 1990, and a few weeks later he led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Shchedrin’s Old Russian Circus Music (commissioned to celebrate the CSO’s centennial season) on October 25, 1990. A noted composer, Maazel also led the Orchestra in the U.S. premiere of his own Farewells on December 14, 2000.

Maazel last led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall for two weeks of subscription concerts—including a run-out to the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois—in February 2005:

February 10 & 12, 2005
February 11, 2005 (Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois)
BRAHMS Serenade No. 2 in A Major, Op. 16
BARTÓK Two Images, Op. 10
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

February 17, 18, 19 & 20, 2005
THOMAS Gathering Paradise
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto No. 1
John Sharp, cello
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 39

His most recent appearance in Orchestra Hall was in March 2009 with the New York Philharmonic, during his final season as that ensemble’s music director:

March 9, 2009
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
TCHAIKOVSKY Suite No. 3 in G Major, Op. 55
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

Maazel’s last appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were tour concerts in January and February 2013, including stops in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, and Seoul.

A statement from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Lorin Maazel’s passing can be found here.

A February 2005 performance of Maazel leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Brahms’s Serenade no. 2 in A major, op. 16—including the maestro speaking on Brahms—may be listened to here.

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


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