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Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to Jessye Norman!

A frequent visitor to Chicago—on concert, recital, and opera stages—Norman has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as vocal soloist and narrator on many occasions, both at Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of her performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

Jessye Norman 1970s

March 21, 22, and 23, 1974
SCHUMANN Das Paradies und die Peri, Op. 50
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Birgit Finnilä, contralto
Ernst Haefliger, tenor
Raffaele Arié, bass
Sarah Beatty, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 29, 30, and 31, 1975
LA MONTAINE Songs of the Rose of Sharon, Op. 6
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

August 9, 1975 (Ravinia Festival)
BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
Edo de Waart, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 7, 1978 (Ravinia Festival)
MOZART Ch’io mi scordi di te?, K. 505
Edward Gordon, piano
RAVEL Sheherazade
BERLIOZ La mort de Cléopatre
WAGNER Wesendonk-Lieder
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 9, 1978 (Ravinia Festival)
MENDELSSOHN Elijah, Op. 70
James Levine, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Jessye Norman, soprano
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Beverly Wolff, mezzo-soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Kirk Stuart, piano
John Cheek, bass
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 8, 1979 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Seth McCoy, tenor

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

December 1, 2, and 3, 1983
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
David Rendall, tenor

Receiving bows following Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986

Receiving bows following Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall on September 24, 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

September 24, 25, 26, and 27, 1986
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Reinhild Runkel, mezzo-soprano
Robert Schunk, tenor
Hans Sotin, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 1, 1988 (Ravinia Festival)
WAGNER Die Walküre, Act 1
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Aage Haugland, bass

July 5, 1992 (Ravinia Festival)
STRAUSS  Ruhe, meine Seele, Op. 27, No. 1
STRAUSS Waldseligkeit, Op. 49, No. 1
STRAUSS Wiegenlied, Op. 41, No. 1
STRAUSS Die heiligen drei Konige aus Morgenland, Op. 56, No. 6
STRAUSS Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
James Levine, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

December 2, 4, and 7, 1993
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Pierre Boulez, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
László Polgár, bass
Larry Russo, narrator

June 22, 1996 (Ravinia Festival)
BERLIOZ “Villanelle,” “Le spectre de la rose,” “Sur les lagunes,” and “L’ile inconnue” from Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
RAVEL Sheherazade
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

June 21, 1997 (Ravinia Festival)
MOZART Vado, ma dove?, K. 583
MOZART “Porgi amor” from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
BIZET Habanera from Carmen
SAINT-SAËNS “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Samson and Delilah
STRAUSS Final Scene from Capriccio
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano

July 18, 2009 (Ravinia Festival)
COPLAND Lincoln Portrait
James Conlon, conductor
Jessye Norman, narrator

Norman also has recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on three occasions:

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 (Solti 2)

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

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Recorded in Medinah Temple, September and October 1986
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Reinhild Runkel, mezzo-soprano
Robert Schunk, tenor
Hans Sotin, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
London
1987 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Recording

Boulez Bluebeard

BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, December 1993
Jessye Norman, soprano
László Polgár, bass
Nicholas Simon, narrator
Deutsche Grammophon
1998 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording

Happy, happy birthday!

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Congratulations to tenor George Shirley upon receiving a National Medal of Arts yesterday from President Barack Obama!

Shirley receiving the medal from President Obama on September 9, 2015 (image retrieved from this site)

Shirley receiving the medal from President Obama at the White House on September 9, 2015 (image retrieved from this site)

The medal is the highest award given to artists by the United States government and is awarded by the president to individuals or organizations who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”

George Shirley has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions—as tenor soloist and narrator—and a complete list of his performances is below (subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

George Shirley

December 16, 18, and 19, 1970
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Georg Solti, conductor
Helen Donath, soprano
Huguette Tourangeau, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 22, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
BERLIOZ Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Mignon Dunn, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Justino Díaz, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 1, 2, and 3, 1973
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Wendy Fine, soprano (November 1)
Sarah Beatty, soprano (November 2 and 3)
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Theo Adam, bass-baritone (November 1 and 2)
Thomas Paul, bass (November 3)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 18, 1974 (Carnegie Hall)
STRAUSS Salome
Salome Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Herodias Ruth Hesse, mezzo-soprano
Herod Antipas Ragnar Ulfung, tenor
Jokanaan Norman Bailey, baritone
Slave Sarah Beatty, soprano
The Page of Herodias Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Narraboth George Shirley, tenor
Cappadocian Gershon Silins, bass
Two Nazarenes Cory Winter, tenor; Franz Mazura, bass-baritone
Four Jews Philip Creech, Jerry Jennings, John Lanigan, and William Wahman, tenors; Eugene Johnson, bass
Two Soldiers Curtis Dickson and Thomas Paul, basses

May 6, 7, 8, and 11, 1999
IVES Three Places in New England
John Adams, conductor
George Shirley, reader
(To set the stage for each section, Shirley read texts by Charles Ives and Henry David Thoreau.)

Congratulations!

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During his tenure as music director, Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra traveled to Carnegie Hall nearly every season. A complete list of those concerts are below:

January 8, 1970
HAYDN Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major
BARTÓK Dance Suite
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

January 9, 1970
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
Helen Watts, contralto
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

December 7, 1970
LEVY Concerto for Piano No. 1
Earl Wild, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor

December 8, 1970
MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor

April 27, 1971
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Woglinde Karen Altman, soprano
Wellgunde Huguette Tourangeau, mezzo-soprano
Flosshilde Helen Watts, contralto
Alberich Rolf Kuhne, bass
Wotan David Ward, bass
Fricka Mignon Dunn, mezzo-soprano
Freia Karen Altman, soprano
Fasolt Martti Talvela, bass
Fafner Hans Sotin, bass
Donner Thomas Paul, bass
Froh Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Loge Gerhard Stolze, tenor
Mime John Lanigan, tenor
Erda Helen Watts, contralto

November 17, 1971
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97 (Rhenish)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
WAGNER Prelude to Act 1 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

November 20, 1971
SCHOENBERG Moses and Aron
Moses Hans Hotter, speaker
Aron 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, 1972
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
Stuart Burrows, tenor

April 22, 1972
CARTER Variations for Orchestra
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14A

December 6, 1972
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Marguerite Josephine Veasey, contralto
Faust Stuart Burrows, tenor
Mephistopheles Robert Savoie, baritone
Brander Roger Soyer, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

December 9, 1972
MENDELSSOHN Overture to Fingal’s Cave, Op. 26
BARTÓK Concert for Violin, No. 2
Isaac Stern, violin
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

May 2, 1973
WAGNER Act 3 of Götterdämmerung
Gutrune Karen Altman, soprano
Brunnhilde Helga Dernesch, soprano
Woglinde Barbara Pearson, soprano
Wellgunde Gwendolyn Jones, mezzo-soprano
Flosshilde Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jess Thomas, tenor
Gunther Donald Gramm, bass
Hagen Martti Talvela, bass
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Richard Boldrey, assistant director

May 4, 1973
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

November 14, 1973
WEBER Overture to Oberon
HENZE Heliogabalus Imperator
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

November 17, 1973
BACH Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

May 1, 1974
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Judith Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Bluebeard Zoltán Kelemen, baritone

May 4, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (Haffner)
ELGAR Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (Enigma)
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

December 17, 1974
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
Samuel Magad, violin
Ralph Zeitlin, recorder
Ray Still, oboe
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
SCHOENBERG Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

December 18, 1974
STRAUSS Salome
Salome Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Herodias Ruth Hesse, mezzo-soprano
Herod Antipas Ragnar Ulfung, tenor
Jokanaan Norman Bailey, baritone
Slave Sarah Beatty, soprano
The Page of Herodias Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Narraboth George Shirley, tenor
Cappadocian Gershon Silins, bass
Two Nazarenes Cory Winter, tenor; Franz Mazura, bass-baritone
Four Jews Philip Creech, Jerry Jennings, John Lanigan, and William Wahman, tenors; Eugene Johnson, bass
Two Soldiers Curtis Dickson and Thomas Paul, basses

December 20, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
ELGAR Symphony No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 63

December 21, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

April 29, 1975
STRAVINSKY Symphony in C
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major

April 30, 1975
VERDI Requiem
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 2, 1975
HAYDN Symphony No. 101 in D Major (The Clock)
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Tamás Vásáry, piano
STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

May 10, 1976
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28

May 12, 1976
MENDELSSOHN Selections from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Alicia de Larrocha, piano
DEBUSSY La mer

May 14, 1976
WAGNER Der fliegende Höllander
The Dutchman Norman Bailey, bass-baritone
Senta Janis Martin, soprano
Daland Martti Talvelabass
Erik René Kollo, tenor
The Steersman Werner Krenntenor
Mary Isola Jonesmezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 8, 1976
MOZART Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546
VERDI Four Sacred Pieces
Jo Ann Pickens, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
WALTON Belshazzar’s Feast
David Ward, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 10, 1976
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 70
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

November 12, 1976
RAVEL Le tombeau de Couperin
DEBUSSY Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
RAVEL La valse
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

May 9, 1977
HAYDN Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

May 11, 1977
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

May 13, 1977
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis, Op. 123
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Solti was scheduled to conduct four concerts at Carnegie Hall in October and November 1977; however after suffering a fall in Chicago, he was forced to cancel the first two appearances. The October 31 performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony was conducted by Chorus Director Margaret Hillis, and the November 1 program (identical to the November 2 concert) was led by Associate Conductor Henry Mazer.

November 2, 1977
ROSSINI Overture to The Barber of Seville
STRAVINSKY Jeu de cartes
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Lucia Popp, soprano
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20

November 4, 1977
TIPPETT Symphony No. 4
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

May 8, 1978
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Alfred Brendel, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

May 9, 1978
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

May 10, 1978
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Alfred Brendel, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

May 12, 1978
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 14 & 15, 1979
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major

May 16 & 18, 1979
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov Prelude to Khovanshchina
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 1, Op. 10
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)

May 19, 1979
BEETHOVEN Fidelio, Op. 72
Leonore Hildegard Behrens, soprano
Marzelline Sona Ghazarian, soprano
Florestan Peter Hofmann, tenor
Jaquino David Kübler, tenor
Don Pizarro Theo Adam, baritone
Rocco Hans Sotin, bass
Don Fernando Gwynne Howell, bass
Two Prisoners Robert Johnson, tenor and Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

April 28 & 30, 1980
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastorale)
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

April 29, 1980
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 (Scottish)
WAGNER “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser
Leontyne Price, soprano
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Leontyne Price, soprano
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition

May 2 & 3, 1980
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 27 & 29, 1981
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

April 28, 1981
BRUCKNER Symphony No.4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra

May 1 & 2, 1981
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Marguerite Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Faust Kenneth Riegel, tenor (May 1); Peyo Garazzi, tenor (May 2)
Mephistopheles José van Dam, baritone
Brander Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

April 18, 1983
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Wotan Siegmund Nimsgern, bass-baritone
Alberich Hermann Becht, baritone
Fricka Gabriele Schnaut, mezzo-soprano
Loge Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Mime Robert Tear, tenor
Erda Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Fafner Malcolm Smith, bass
Fasolt Gwynne Howell, bass
Freia Mary Jane Johnson, soprano
Donner John Cheek, bass-baritone
Froh Dennis Bailey, tenor
Woglinde Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Wellgunde Elizabeth Hynes, soprano
Flosshilde Emily Golden, mezzo-soprano

April 19, 1983
MOZART Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)

April 29, 1985
VERDI Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff Guillermo Sarabia, baritone
Ford Wolfgang Brendel, baritone
Fenton Yordi Ramiro, tenor
Dr. Caius Heinz Zednik, tenor
Bardolph Francis Egerton, tenor
Pistol Aage Haugland, bass
Mistress Alice Ford Katia Ricciarelli, soprano
Nannetta Kathleen Battle, soprano
Mistress Quickly Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Mistress Meg Page Ann Murray, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 30, 1985
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9, Op. 70
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Unfinished)

May 1, 1985
BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op 56a
LUTOSŁAWSKI Symphony No. 3
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

May 3, 1985
MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor

May 4, 1985
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
BERG Concerto for Violin
Salvatore Accardo, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

May 18, 1987
MAHLER Symphony No. 9

May 19, 1987
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

May 20, 1987
HAYDN Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major (Drumroll)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

February 10, 1989
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D. 485
SCHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 65

February 11, 1989
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
BARTÓK Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

April 15 & 18, 1991
TIPPETT Byzantium
Faye Robinson, soprano
MAHLER Symphony No. 5


April 16 & 19, 1991

VERDI Otello
Otello Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Desdemona Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Iago Leo Nucci, baritone
Emilia Elzbieta Ardam, mezzo-soprano
Cassio Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Roderigo John Keyes, tenor
Montano Alan Opie, baritone
Lodovico Dimitri Kavrakos, bass
A Herald Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Terry Edwards, guest chorus master
Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus
Elena Doria, director

____________________________________________________

With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Sir Georg Solti conducted Beethoven’s Missa solemnis on three sets of concerts:

November 1, 2, and 3, 1973, at Orchestra Hall
Victor Aitay, violin
Wendy Fine, soprano (November 1)
Sarah Beatty, soprano (November 2 and 3)
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Theo Adam, bass (November 1 and 2)
Thomas Paul, bass (November 3)
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director

There were multiple cast changes due to illnesses, both before and after the programs were printed. About a week before the performances, George Shirley replaced Peter Schreier. Karl Ridderbusch was replaced the day before the first performance by Theo Adam, who was in town for Wagner’s Siegfried at Lyric Opera; he sang the first two performances and Thomas Paul sang the third. Following the first performance, Wendy Fine was replaced by Sarah Beatty.

May 5, 6, and 7, 1977, at Orchestra Hall
May 13, 1977, at Carnegie Hall
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director

Following the Carnegie Hall performance, the work was recorded for London Records with multiple sessions in Chicago’s Medinah Temple. Ray Minshull was the producer and Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes were the engineers.

The recording won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, Classical (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

January 12, 13, and 14, 1984, at Orchestra Hall
January 16, 1984, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Samuel Magad, violin
Felicity Lott, soprano
Diana Montague, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Simon Estes, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director

Available reviews are here (1973), here (1977), and here (1984).

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On January 29, 30, and 31, 1976, Sir Georg Solti conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus’s first performances of Roger Sessions‘s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d. The work had been chosen as part of the CSO’s recognition of the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations.

According to Arrand Parsons’s program note, in Walt Whitman‘s poem, three symbols appear: “the ‘great star,’ representing the assassinated Lincoln; the lilac, which usually is interpreted as human love; the thrush, representing the soul which has as its song the carol of death, a carol Whitman accepts as his own when he says ‘the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.’ Sessions has arranged the score into three continuous parts. The first part sets the mournful mood and presents the symbolic elements: the ‘powerful western fallen star,’ the lilacs, and the song of the thrush. In the second part, the poet describes Lincoln’s funeral train slowly moving from Washington to Springfield, and his burial. The poet describes the land and its people, and a central and high point is the alto solo in which the ‘carol of the bird’ reflects on death. At the end, the symbols are united.”

The composer also contributed to the program note: “My cantata When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d was composed principally between 1967 and 1969; the orchestral score was finished in the autumn of 1970. The work was commissioned by the Committee for Arts and lectures of the University of California at Berkeley, in celebration of the University’s centennial in 1968; but it also represents, for me, the fruition of an idea that had been in my mind for very many years. Even during my adolescent years—the period of the First World War—the poem, written under the spell of one of the most tragic moments of our history, with its moving evocation of the rich American landscape in spring, with its lilacs, its forests, and its thrushes, and of the Civil War, had touched me very deeply; and in 1921 I even made a number of musical sketches for a possible musical setting of it. I was not satisfied with these sketches, however, and concluded that I was not ready at that time to undertake such a work. I never forgot it, however, and when the proposal was made that I write a work involving chorus and possible solo voice, it became clear to me that the time had come for me to write this work. I have to confess that only after having made many preliminary sketches and having become thoroughly involved in the music did I fully realize what its dimensions must be.

“The dedication to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King and of Robert Kennedy was, of course, the result of the fact that their political assassinations occurred while I was working on the second part of the cantata.

“I have used as my text Whitman’s poem in its entirety with only occasional brief cuts, which the musical setting as I conceived it seemed to demand. These cuts are mainly in the third section, though to a lesser extent in the second also. They all occur at moments where verbal elaboration or repetition, though very powerful and very characteristic in the text as such, seemed to me redundant in the context of a musical setting.”

For these performances, soprano Sarah Beatty, mezzo-soprano Josephine Veasey, and baritone Dominic Cossa were the soloists; and the Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Margaret Hillis. The second half of the program included the first CSO and CSC performances of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. Reviews of the performances are here and here.

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With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Sir Georg Solti conducted Bach’s monumental Saint Matthew Passion on four different occasions at Orchestra Hall:

April 9 and 10, 1971
Jesus: Tom Krause
Evangelist: Richard Lewis
Aria soloists: Heather Harper, Helen Watts, Richard Lewis, Donald Gramm
Other vocal soloists: Alfred Reichel, Stephen Swanson, Nancy Clevenger, Ellen Rico, Linda Mabbs, Jack Abraham, Eugene Johnson, Frederic Chrislip, Karen Zajac
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, DeVere Moore, Victor Aitay, Sidney Weiss, Eva Heinitz
Continuo: Eloise Niwa, Frank Miller, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus; Barbara Born, director
These performances were dedicated to the memory of Igor Stravinsky, who had died on April 6, 1971.

April 12 and 13, 1974
Jesus: Gwynne Howell
Evangelist: Mallory Walker
Aria soloists: Heather Harper, Helen Watts, Jerry Jennings, Philip Booth
Other vocal soloists: Alfred Reichel, Curtis Dickson, Gershon Silins, Stephen Swanson, Donna Gullstrand, Alexis Darden, Sarah Beatty, Richard Livingston, Philip Creech, Isola Jones
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Victor Aitay, Samuel Magad, John Hsu
Continuo: Eloise Niwa, Mary Sauer, Frank Miller, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director

April 4 and 6, 1985
Jesus: Wolfgang Schoene
Evangelist: Anthony Rolfe Johnson
Aria soloists: Pamela Coburn, Brigitte Fassbaender, Thomas Moser, Siegmund Nimsgern
Other vocal soloists: Bruce Cain, Richard Cohn, Jane Green, Joan Welles, Doris Kirschner, Karen Zajac, Tim O’Connor
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Victor Aitay, Samuel Magad, Catharina Meints
Continuo: Mary Sauer, David Schrader, Richard Webster, Leonard Chausow, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director

Saint Matthew Passion recording session in Orchestra Hall

March 19 and 21, 1987
Jesus: Olaf Bär
Evangelist: Hans Peter Blochwitz
Aria soloists: Kiri Te Kanawa, Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Moser, Tom Krause
Other vocal soloists: Richard Cohn, Patrice Michaels, Debra Austin, William Watson
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Judith Kulb, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Samuel Magad, Rubén González, Catharina Meints, Mary Sauer
Continuo: David Schrader, John Sharp, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Lucy Ding, acting director

Following the performances in March 1987, the work was recorded for London Records. Andrew Cornall was the producer, and Simon Eadon and John Pellowe were the engineers.

Solti, members of the Orchestra, and soloists listen to playbacks

I inadvertently neglected to include the 1971 performances in the first version of this post. —FV

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Marin Alsop conducts the CSO in the world premiere of Threnos by Bruno Mantovani, Prokofiev’s haunting Third Piano Concerto - performed by pianist Daniil Trifonov - and Copland’s Third Symphony. Photos by @toddrphoto. As part of a series of events honoring the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice, this concert features works that encourage reflection and inspire hope. Chamber music performances of works from the World War I era by musicians of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as well as a free lecture featuring Mark Clague, foremost scholar on the Star Spangled Banner preceded the concert.
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