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

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

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

Samuel Ramey (Steven Leonard photo)

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

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

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

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

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

Happy, happy birthday!

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Inaugurating its new thousand-watt transmitter, WMAQ used seven microphones in picking up the first Chicago Symphony Orchestra radio broadcast on December 10, 1925. Frederick Stock conducted at Orchestra Hall, and, seated in the organ loft with a clear view of the Orchestra, assistant conductor Eric DeLamarter operated the radio-control unit used to regulate the microphones (switching in and out, but not controlling volume) in order to produce the best possible balance.

Chicago Daily News, December 9, 1925

Chicago Daily News, December 9, 1925

The concert, a potpourri of popular favorites, included Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theodore Thomas’s arrangement of “Träume” from Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, Massenet’s Meditation from Thaïs with concertmaster Jacques Gordon, Saint-Saëns’s The Swan from The Carnival of the Animals with principal cello Alfred Wallenstein, and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien. Interspersed throughout the program, contralto Sophie Braslau, accompanied by pianist Louise Linder, performed several songs (including Schubert’s “Der Erlkönig”) from WMAQ’s studio on the eighteenth floor of the LaSalle Hotel.*

Elmer Douglass in the Chicago Tribune called the broadcast “a marvelous success. When the Orchestra broke in with the soft opening tones of Halvorsen’s March of the Boyards, it was realized that all was well. It was phenomenally clear and pure, and, best of all, the true, pure, characteristic tones as though they were heard from a choice seat in Orchestra Hall itself. We could all but see the separate instruments.”

“An artistic and mechanical triumph,” reported the Chicago Daily News (which then also owned WMAQ). “The applause of the radio audience in the form of telephone calls, telegrams, letters, and postal cards is sweeping like an avalanche.”

Subsequent radio broadcasts were carried over a variety of stations, the longest syndication on WFMT from 1976 through 2001. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra returned to the airwaves in April 2007, syndicated throughout the U.S. by WFMT, featuring performances recorded live as well as recordings from its extensive discography. The first program included Miguel Harth-Bedoya leading Rossini’s Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Yanov-Yanovsky’s Night Music: Voice in the Leaves, Chen and He’s The Butterfly Lovers with erhu soloist Betty Xiang, and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma.

* The LaSalle Hotel, located on the northwest corner of LaSalle Street and Madison Street, was completed in 1909 and demolished in 1976. The lot currently is the home of Two North LaSalle Street, completed in 1979.

This article also appears here.

Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Wishing a very happy sixtieth birthday to Yo-Yo Ma, a great friend and frequent collaborator with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

Yo-Yo Ma made his debut with the Orchestra on December 13, 1979, at Orchestra Hall in Kabelevsky’s Cello Concerto with Leonard Slatkin conducting; and he first appeared at the Ravinia Festival on July 1, 1982, in Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D major with Charles Dutoit conducting. With the Orchestra, he has recorded Bloch’s Schelomo (with Miguel Harth-Bedoya) Brahms’s Double Concerto (twice: with Isaac Stern and Claudio Abbado, and later with Itzhak Perlman and Daniel Barenboim), and Williams’s Suite from Memoirs of a Geisha with the composer conducting. Ma has been one of Orchestra Hall’s most frequent guest artists, performing not only as a soloist with the Orchestra but also as a chamber musician in a wide variety of ensembles.

Happy, happy birthday!

Yo-Yo Ma performing Schumann's Cello Concerto with Riccardo Muti and the Orchestra on May 14, 2011 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Yo-Yo Ma performing Schumann’s Cello Concerto with Riccardo Muti and the Orchestra on May 14, 2011 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Frederica von Stade

Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to the wonderful mezzo-soprano, Frederica von Stade (recently in Chicago for performances of Ricky Ian Gordon‘s A Coffin in Egypt with Chicago Opera Theater)!

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

May 1 & 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

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
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
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
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 & 7, 2010
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

Berlioz album cover

The 1981 interpretation of 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.

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Theodore Thomas

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