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Boulez speaking at a reception celebrating his seventieth birthday in Orchestra Hall's Grainger Ballroom on March 30, 1995 (Cheri Eisenberg photo)

Boulez speaking at a reception celebrating his seventieth birthday in Orchestra Hall’s Grainger Ballroom on March 30, 1995 (Cheri Eisenberg photo)

After his 1969 debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez returned as guest conductor in 1987 and, beginning in 1991, appeared annually in Chicago. During celebrations for his seventieth birthday, he was named the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor on March 30, 1995.

Boulez led the Orchestra in an extraordinary breadth of repertoire, including the music of Bartók, Berg, Berio, Bruckner, Carter, Debussy, Janáček, Ligeti, Mahler, Messiaen, Prokofiev, Rands, Ravel, Schoenberg, Scriabin, Strauss, Stravinsky, Varèse, and Webern, in addition to his own compositions. He conducted world premieres by the Orchestra’s composers-in-residence Shulamit Ran and Augusta Read Thomas, as well as by Philippe Manoury and Matthias Pintscher.

Boulez traveled with the Orchestra to New York’s Carnegie Hall and on tour to England, Germany, Hungary, and Japan. He curated several MusicNOW concerts; delivered lectures at the Art Institute of Chicago; collaborated in Beyond the Score presentations both in Chicago and in New York; and conducted the Civic Orchestra on several occasions, both in concert and in reading sessions of new music.

Boulez and Daniel Barenboim acknowledge applause following a performance of Bartók's First Piano Concerto on April 1, 1995 (Cheri Eisenberg photo)

Boulez and Daniel Barenboim acknowledge applause following a performance of Bartók’s First Piano Concerto on April 1, 1995 (Cheri Eisenberg photo)

Several of his many recordings with the Orchestra were Grammy winners in multiple categories, including Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, The Wooden Prince, Cantata profana, and Concerto for Orchestra; Mahler’s Ninth Symphony; and Varèse’s Amériques, Arcana, Déserts, and Ionisation. In fact, Boulez is the third all-time Grammy winner—behind Sir Georg Solti (thirty-one) and Alison Krauss and Quincy Jones (twenty-seven each)—with twenty-six awards to his credit.

In 2006, Boulez was named the Orchestra’s Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus.

Boulez’s most recent residency in Chicago was during two weeks in 2010. On November 26 and 27, he led Debussy’s Selections from The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, Ligeti’s Violin Concerto with concertmaster Robert Chen, Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, and Debussy’s La mer. The following week, on December 2, 3, and 4, he conducted Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with vocal soloists Christine Brewer, Nancy Maultsby, Lance Ryan, and Mikhail Petrenko; organist Paul Jacobs; and the Chicago Symphony Chorus.

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After the Europe Tour 2020, Riccardo Muti joined the Orchestra again for a three-week CSO residency in February that included the Florida Tour 2020 and two programs at Symphony Center. In celebration of the Music Director’s time with the Orchestra during the past two months, please enjoy this video featuring Maestro Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in an excerpt from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, featuring mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili as Santuzza. 🎥@toddrphoto
Opening with the most famous four notes in all of classical music, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is featured on this CSO program led by Riccardo Muti, along with the composer’s Second Symphony and the world premiere of Ophelia’s Tears, Concertante Elegy, a new work by Nicolas Bacri featuring the CSO’s own bass clarinet J. Lawrie Bloom as soloist. #Beethoven250 📸@toddrphoto
“In four years, I had been in five orchestras,” said CSO Bass Clarinet J. Lawrie Bloom about the beginning of his orchestral career. As a clarinetist, he never set out to play the bass clarinet, but there just happened to be orchestral positions for the instrument when he began seeking a job. “That is how fast the auditions were happening. But by then, I had really started to realize that the bass gave me a voice I’d never had.” J. Lawrie Bloom takes center stage this week in Orchestra Hall for the world premiere of Nicolas Bacri’s Ophelia’s Tears, Concertante Elegy for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti. #MusicianMonday 📸@toddrphoto

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