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Samuel Ramey (Christian Steiner photo)

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

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

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

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

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

Samuel Ramey (Steven Leonard photo)

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

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

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

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

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

Happy, happy birthday!

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Placido Domingo

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to Plácido Domingo, celebrating his seventh-fifth!

The legendary singer has appeared in Chicago on both concert and opera stages, performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vocal soloist and conductor at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and several other venues in Chicago and in Europe. A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

October 9, 1987 (special concert celebrating Sir Georg Solti‘s seventy-fifth birthday)
J. STRAUSS, Jr. Overture to Die Fledermaus
Plácido Domingo, conductor
VERDI Excerpts from Act 1 of Otello
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Joseph Wolverton, tenor
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
David Huneryager, baritone
Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Solti 75

October 9, 1987 (Jim Steere photo)

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

June 27, 1994 (Petrillo Music Shell, Grant Park)
Miguel Roa, conductor
Veronica Villaroel, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
SOROZÁBAL Madrileña bonita from La del manojo de Rosas
MORENO TORROBA Los vareadores from Luisa Fernanda
MORENO TORROBA En mi tierra extremena from Luisa Fernanda
PENELLA Torero quiero ser from El gato montés
MORENO TORROBA De este apacible rincón from Luisa Fernanda
GUERRERO Fiel espada from El Huésped del Sevillano
MORENO TORROBA Amor, vida de mi vida from Maravilla
CABALLERO No cantes mas from El duo de la Africana
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
SERRANO Te quiero Morena from El trust de los tenorios
LARA Granada

July 6, 1994 (Ravinia Festival)
Plácido Domingo, conductor
TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
SAINT SAËNS Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
Sarah Chang, violin
SARASATE Concert Fantasies on Carmen, Op. 25
Sarah Chang, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36

July 8, 1994 (Ravinia Festival)
Eugene Kohn, conductor
Kallen Esperian, soprano
MOZART Dalla sua pace from Don Giovanni, K. 527
MOZART Ma qual mai soffre, O Dei, from Don Giovanni, K. 527
VERDI Quando le sere al placido from Luisa Miller
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
PUCCINI E lucevan le stelle from Tosca
MEYERBEER O, Paradis! from L’africaine
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
DONIZETTI Caro elisir . . . Trallarallara . . . Esulti pur la barbara from L’elisir d’amore

May 2, 1996 (special concert celebrating Daniel Barenboim‘s Silver Jubilee)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MOZART Dalla sua pace from Don Giovanni, K. 527
BERLIOZ Invocation to Nature from The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
VERDI Otello’s Death from Otello
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
TCHAIKOVSKY Lenski’s Aria from Eugene Onegin

May 12, 1997 (United Center)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Elizabeth Futral, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MASSENET Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père from Le Cid
CILÈA E’ la solita storia from L’Arlesiana
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
DONIZETTI Caro elisir . . . Trallarallara . . . Esulti pur la barbara from L’elisir d’amore
PUCCINI E lucevan le stelle from Tosca
MASCAGNI Suzel, buon dì! from L’amico Fritz
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
MOZART Là ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni, K. 527
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
LARA Granada
VERDI Brindisi—Libiamo, libiamo ne’ lieti calici from La traviata

Star-Crossed Lovers

January 26, 1998 (Dan Rest photo)

May 13, 15, 16, and 17, 1997 (Medinah Temple)
June 8 and 9, 1997 (Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany)
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Daniel Barenboim, piano

October 4, 1997 (Symphony Center Opening Night Gala)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
VERDI Niun mi tema from Otello

January 26, 1998 (Star-Crossed Lovers)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
GARDEL El día que me quieras
MORENO TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte!
MORENO TORROBA Jota castellana

May 25, 26, 27, and 30, 2000
Plácido Domingo, conductor
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Rachel Barton, violin
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

August 4, 2007 (Ravinia Festival)
James Conlon, conductor
Ana María Martínez, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
MASSENET Ô souverain, ô juge, ô père from Le Cid
CILÈA E’ la solita storia from L’Arlesiana
WAGNER Winterstürme from Die Walküre
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
MORENO TORROBA Amor, vida de mi vida from Maravilla
MORENO TORROBA En mi tierra extremena from Luisa Fernanda
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
SOROZÁBAL No puede ser from La tabernera del puerto
PENELLA Duet from El gato montés
LARA Granada
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow

Domingo also recorded with the Orchestra on three occasions:

VERDI Requiem
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on September 20 and 21, 1993
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Alessandra Marc, soprano
Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Erato
(Verdi’s Requiem was performed on September 17, 18, 23, and 25, 1993, with Vicente Ombuena singing the tenor solos; Domingo was in Chicago only on September 20.)

FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 13, 15, 16, and 17, 1997
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Teldec

Star-Crossed Lovers
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 26, 1998
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
BERNSTEIN Tonight from West Side Story
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . O nuit d’amour from Faust
GARDEL El día que me quieras
MORENO TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte!
MORENO TORROBA Jota castellana
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
London

Happy, happy birthday!

Earlier today we heard of the news of the death of the remarkable English bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk, as reported in The Telegraph.

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

John Shirley Quirk

August 30, 31 & September 1, 1971 (recording sessions at the Sofiensaal in Vienna)
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Georg Solti, conductor
Heather Harper, soprano
Lucia Popp, soprano
Arleen Augér, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
René Kollo, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Norbert Balatsch, chorus master
Singverein Chorus
Helmut Froschauer, chorus master
Vienna Boys’ Choir

December 16, 17 & 18, 1971
BACH Mass in B Minor
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Josephine Veasey, mezzo-soprano
Luigi Alva, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 27, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
BRITTEN War Requiem
István Kertész, conductor (orchestra)
György Fischer, conductor (chamber orchestra)
Margaret Hillis, conductor (children’s chorus)
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Robert Tear, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Northwestern University Chorus and Concert Choir
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

July 3, 1975 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn
James Levine, conductor
Maria Ewing, soprano

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

May 15, 16 & 17, 1980
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS A Sea Symphony
Raymond Leppard, conductor
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

March 5, 6 & 7, 1981
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Maximillian Schell, narrator
Philip Langridge, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
Aage Haugland, bass
Rockwell Blake, tenor
Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 3, 4 & 5, 1982
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
Benita Valente, soprano
Katherine Ciesinski, mezzo-soprano
Jon Frederic West, tenor
Kurt Link, bass (Shirley-Quirk canceled due to illness and was replaced by Link on June 5 only)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 1, 2 & 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
Sergei Koptchak, bass
Kurt 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

____________________________________________________

Georg Solti conducted the British premiere of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron at Covent Garden in June 1965. In Memoirs, he wrote: “Although I had conducted works by Bartók and Stravinsky, I had never before conducted twelve-tone music of such complexity. Moses is a much harder work than, for example, Lulu. There is a bel canto, legato quality to Lulu that is in contrast to the predominantly spoken and contrapuntal Moses. I remember feeling depressed as I grappled with the score during my 1964 Christmas holiday: I simply didn’t know how to learn the piece, how to get it in my bloodstream. Eventually, I succeeded, but the further I forged ahead, the more I became aware of the enormity of the practical task ahead of me. Schoenberg’s written indications of main theme and second theme, for instance, help performers to grasp what is going on, but bringing those indications to life is anything but easy. . . . It was so well received that it was repeated the following year.”

With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Solti led Schoenberg’s opera on two occasions, in November 1971 and April 1984.

Moses und Aron in concert at Orchestra Hall on November 13, 1971

November 11, 12, and 13, 1971, at Orchestra Hall
November 20, 1971, at Carnegie Hall
(performed in English in a translation by David Rudkin)
Moses Hans Hotter, speaker
Aaron Richard Lewis, tenor
A Young Girl Karen Altman, soprano
A Young Man Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Another Man Benjamin Matthews, baritone
Priest Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
An Invalid Woman Emilie Miller, mezzo-contralto
Ephraimite Stephen Swanson, baritone
A Naked Youth Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Four Naked Virgins Barbara Pearson and Nancy Clevenger, sopranos; Sharon Powell, mezzo-soprano; Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, alto
Three Elders Alfred Reichel and Jack Abraham, baritones; Eugene Johnson, bass
Six Solo Voices in the Orchestra Barbara Pearson, soprano; Sharon Powell, mezzo-soprano; Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, alto; William Wahman, tenor; Stephen Swanson and Arthur Berg, baritones
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus; Barbara Born, director

April 19 and 21, 1984, at Orchestra Hall
(performed in German)
Moses Franz Mazura, speaker
Aaron Philip Langridge, tenor
A Young Girl Barbara Bonney, soprano
A Young Man Daniel Harper, tenor
Another Man Kurt Link, baritone
Priest Aage Haugland, bass
An Invalid Woman Mira Zakai, contralto
Ephraimite Herbert Wittges, baritone
A Naked Youth Thomas Dymit, tenor
Four Naked Virgins Jean Braham and Barbara Pearson, sopranos; Cynthia Anderson and Karen Zajac, contraltos
Three Elders Kurt Link and Richard Cohn, baritones; Paul Grizzell, bass
Six Solo Voices in the Orchestra Sally Schweikert, soprano; Elizabeth Gottlieb, mezzo-soprano; Karen Brunssen, contralto; Roald Henderson, tenor; Bradley Nystrom, baritone; William Kirkwood, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Members of the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director
Elizabeth Buccheri, repetiteur

The opera was recorded at 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.

Following the release of the recording, Arnold Whittall in Gramophone wrote:

“Sir Georg Solti has come to record Moses und Aron the best part of two decades after he conducted the opera in Peter Hall’s Covent Garden production. . . . His faith in Schoenberg’s most ambitious dramatic project remains undimmed and he believes that, with increasing familiarity, the music becomes ‘clearer, less complicated, and more expressive and romantic.’ This may well be true, but I think that becoming familiar with the opera also reinforces its remarkable ambiguity and originality. Moses und Aron is a necessarily and challengingly diverse composition. At one extreme, the choral counterpoint with its traditional imitative techniques: at the other, the concentratedly expressionist orchestral writing. Then there is the almost blatant, post-Mahlerian vulgarity of parts of the ‘Dance round the Golden Calf,’ in complete contrast to the visionary, discomfiting density of scenes like the first, in which superimpositions of speech and song, voices and instruments, leave the listener straining to find the centre, to discover the idea behind the images in this confrontation between human and divine. Add to all this the fact that there is a text for a third act that Schoenberg never set, and we have something which, however expressive and romantic, is still very much a problem piece.

“The odds are that any studio recording of Moses will be stronger in textural clarity and accuracy of detail than in theatrical atmosphere. Yet the latter is certainly not lacking in Solti’s performance, especially in the second act. Since Act l is less conventionally theatrical anyway, it is not surprising that it is here that you are likely to be most aware of artists working conscientiously in a recording studio (Orchestra Hall, Chicago). But there are moments of excitement in Act I, too, which seem to bear out Solti’s confident claim that ‘the more we rehearsed and played the easier the work became. . . .’

“It is certainly good that the recording does not attempt artificially to oversimplify or stratify the work’s blended textures, and it well serves the music’s vertiginous exploration of the borderland between complexity and chaos, inscrutable divinity and argumentative humanity. In this precarious balance lies the impact and quality of the whole performance, with its generally good supporting cast; it also explains the abiding fascination of Schoenberg’s last attempt to bring a great philosophical issue to dramatic life.”

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Theodore Thomas

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

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