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Sherrill Milnes (Dario Acosta photo)

Wishing a very happy eighty-fifth birthday to the legendary American baritone Sherrill Milnes! A native of Downers Grove, Illinois, he also was a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in the beginning of his professional singing career.

Milnes auditioned for Margaret Hillis in 1958 and became a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in time for the beginning its second season. “I was knocked out by Margaret’s personality and musicality,” he said in a March 1976 interview with Winthrop Sargeant for The New Yorker. “Singing under Fritz Reiner could only be a great thrill for an amateur singer, and I was an amateur. It was pre-career. She had all the techniques of a modern choral conductor. For example, ‘staccato du.” It was the first time I had encountered it. To make sure you know the notes, you sing them ‘du-du-du’—each note very short. Also speaking the words to rhythm—in a monotone, with the rhythm of the music but without the melody. She was the first choral conductor I’d ever know who molded the sound of the chorus, making it change color, and so on. She had everybody sing the soprano part where there was a melody, and the same with the bass and other parts. She opened up a whole new world of musical ideas and rehearsal ideas. . . . I’m on the recording of Reiner’s Beethoven Ninth in the chorus [and] Alexander Nevsky with Reiner too. . . . I was hearing phrases thrown at me for the first time, and it was opening up a whole new world.”

Milnes has been a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, all listed below.

December 16, 1961, Orchestra Hall
BACH Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243
HAYDN Mass in D Minor, Hob. XXII:11 (Lord Nelson)
Margaret Hillis, conductor
Maria Ferriero, soprano
Teresa Orantes, soprano
Lili Chookasian, contralto
David Paige, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

February 15, 1964, Orchestra Hall
MENDELSSOHN Elijah, Op. 70
Margaret Hillis, conductor
Lillian Garabedian, soprano
Marion Vincent, soprano
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Robert Johnson, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 19, 1964, Orchestra Hall
BERLIOZ L’enfance du Christ, Op. 25
Margaret Hillis, director
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
Seth McCoy, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
John West, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

HAYDN July 18, 1965, Ravinia Festival
ORFF Carmina burana
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Pierre Duval, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Alfred Reichel, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Christopher Moore, director

August 7 and 9, 1969, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Aida
Giuseppe Patanè, conductor
Sheldon Patinkin, stage director
Robert Hale, bass-baritone
Lili Chookasian, contralto
Martina Arroyo, soprano
Richard Tucker, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Ara Berberian, bass
Herbert Kraus, tenor
Carolyn Smith-Meyer, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 15 and 17, 1971, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Rigoletto
István Kertész, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Patricia Wise, soprano
John Alexander, tenor
Robert Hale, bass-baritone
John Walker, tenor
Bernard Izzo, baritone
Edna Garabedian, mezzo-soprano
Susan Lutz, mezzo-soprano
Eugene Johnson, bass
Phyllis Kirian, soprano
Julia Diane Ragains, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 1, 1972, Ravinia Festival
PUCCINI Tosca
James Levine, conductor
Teresa Kubiak, soprano
John Alexander, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Bernard Izzo, baritone
Charles Anthony, tenor
Andrew Földi, bass
Eugene Johnson, bass
Joseph Caccamo, boy soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

July 24, 1976, Ravinia Festival
WALTON Belshazzar’s Feast
André Previn, conductor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus
John Currie, director

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

June 26, 1981, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Macbeth
James Levine, conductor
Renata Scotto, soprano
Giuliano Ciannella, tenor
Sherrill Milnes, baritone
John Cheek, bass-baritone
Timothy Jenkins, tenor
Gene Marie Callahan, soprano
Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Sharon Graham, mezzo-soprano
Duane Clenton Carter, baritone
Rush Tully, bass-baritone
Terry Cook, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis and James Winfied, directors

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

Milnes also gave one recital under the auspices of Allied Arts (now Symphony Center Presents):

February 14, 1987, Orchestra Hall
Jon Spong, piano
MONDONVILLE Eole’s Aria from Titon et l’Aurore
LULLY Bois épais from Amadis
GRÉTRY O Richard, O mon roi from Richard Coeur-de-lion
SCHUBERT An die Leier, D. 737
SCHUBERT Die Liebe hat gelogen, D. 751
SCHUBERT Kriegers Ahnung from Schwanengesang, D. 957
SCHUBERT Die Allmacht, D. 852
SANTOLIQUIDO Le domandai
SANTOLIQUIDO Quando le domandai
SANTOLIQUIDO Io mi levai dal centro della terra
SANTOLIQUIDO Riflessi
MOZART Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo, K. 584
McGILL Duna
COPLAND The World Feels Dusty from Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson
TRADITIONAL/Copland At the River
arr. Dalway Love Trapped Me
arr. Dalway Killiney Strand
DUKE Luke Havergal
SAINT-SAËNS Qui donc commande from Henry VIII
Encores:
MOZART Fin ch’han dal vino calda la testa from Don Giovanni, K. 527
TRADITIONAL Shenandoah
TRADITIONAL/Britten Oliver Cromwell (sung by Spong with Milnes at the piano)
GIORDANO Nemico della patria from Andrea Chénier

Happy, happy birthday!

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the wonderful American mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar!

A frequent guest in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, Quivar has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on numerous occasions, as follows:

Florence Quivar (Kenn Duncan photo)

June 21, 1980, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
James Levine, conductor

July 3, 1980, Ravinia Festival
SCHUBERT Mass No. 6 in E-flat Major, D. 950
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Philip Creech, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

July 13, 1980, Ravinia Festival
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Philip Creech, tenor
Arthur Thompson, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

April 8, 9, and 10, 1982, Orchestra Hall
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Yvonne Kenny, soprano
Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

June 24, 1983, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Leona Mitchell, soprano
Ermanno Mauro, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

June 29, 1984, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Johanna Meier, soprano
Judith Blegen, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Giuliano Ciannella, tenor
Ryan Edwards, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Wisconsin Conservatory Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hawkins, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
James Levine, conductor

July 1, 1984, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
Judith Blegen, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 2 and 3, 1984. For Deutsche Grammophon, Cord Garben was the recording supervisor, and Klaus Scheibe was the recording engineer.

July 13, 1986, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Benita Valente, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

Benita Valenta, Quivar, Philip Creech, and John Cheek onstage with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Mozart’s Requiem at the Ravinia Festival on July 13, 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

July 10, 1987, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Kaaren Erickson, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Karen Williams, soprano
Hillary Johnsson, mezzo-soprano
Timothy Jenkins, tenor
Thomas Hampson, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Milwaukee Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hawkins, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
Lucy Ding, director
James Levine, conductor

June 22, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

June 23, 1991, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Mass in C Minor, K. 427
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Peter Kazaras, tenor
Terry Cook, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

July 7, 1991, Ravinia Festival
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Philip Langridge, tenor
Donald Kaasch, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Jan-Hendrik Rootering, bass
F. Murray Abraham, narrator
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on July 9 and 10, 1991. For Deutsche Grammophon, Christopher Adler was the producer, Gregor Zielinsky was the balance engineer, Klaus Behrens and Wolf-Dieter Karwatky were the recording engineers, and Reinhard Lagemann was the editor. 

February 26, 27, 28, and 29, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Richard Garrin, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Lucy Ding, director
Zubin Mehta, conductor

November 17, 18, 19, and 22, 1994, Orchestra Hall
CHAUSSON Poem of Love and the Sea, Op. 19
Antonio Pappano, conductor

May 30, 31, and June 1, 1996, Medinah Temple
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Sharon Sweet, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Ying Huang, soprano
Janis Taylor, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Richard Zeller, baritone
Eric Halfvarson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Waukegan Concert Chorus
Don Horisberger, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Sandra Prodan Murphy, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 23, 1996, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Shinobu Satoh, soprano
Richard Leech, tenor
Roberto Scandiuzzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 7, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

June 30, 2001, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Adina Nitescu, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
John Relyea, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

As we prepare for Riccardo Muti‘s interpretation of Verdi’s Macbeth, we’re reminded that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has quite the performance history with the opera, both in whole and in part.

The CSO first performed music from Verdi’s Macbeth at the Ravinia Festival on July 21, 1977, under the baton of James Levine, the Festival’s music director. The first half of the program included selections from several Verdi operas (I vespri siciliani, Aida, La traviata, and Simon Boccanegra), but the second half was dedicated solely to Macbeth. Soprano Marisa Galvany (a last-minute replacement for an indisposed Martina Arroyo) and baritone Cornell MacNeil performed several selections, including the scena and duet from act 1, scene 2; “Pietà, rispetto, amore”; “Una macchia è qui tuttora”; and “Ove son io?”

Ravinia Festival, June 26, 1981

Ravinia Festival, June 26, 1981

Opening the Ravinia Festival’s forty-sixth season, the CSO gave its first complete performance of Verdi’s Macbeth on June 26, 1981. James Levine conducted, and the complete cast was as follows:

Macbeth Sherrill Milnes, baritone
Banquo John Cheek, bass-baritone
Lady Macbeth Renata Scotto, soprano
Servant/Herald Rush Tully, bass-baritone
Macduff Giuliano Ciannella, tenor
Malcolm Timothy Jenkins, tenor
Lady-in-Waiting Gene Marie Callahan, soprano
Assassin/Warrior Duane Clenton Carter, baritone
Bloody Child Sharon Graham, mezzo-soprano
Crowned Child Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Physician Terry Cook, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Winfield, associate director

On one of our previous From the Archives CD collections, we released the scene that begins “Una macchia, è qui tuttora” from act 4 (with Scotto, Callahan, and Cook). The set—A Tribute to James Levine—was released in 2004 and was volume 18 in the series.

Verdi Choruses album cover

At Orchestra Hall, the Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by Margaret Hillis and guest chorus master Terry Edwards) performed numerous choruses from Verdi’s operas and the Requiem, including two from Macbeth: “Tre volte miagola” and “Patria oppressa!” on November 2, 3, and 4, 1989. Sir Georg Solti led the first two concerts, and Kenneth Jean led the November 4 performance.

With Solti conducting, the choruses were recorded by London Records. Michael Haas was the producer, James Lock was the engineer, and Deborah Rogers was the tape editor.

Also at the Ravinia Festival, bass-baritone James Morris performed “Studia il passo, o mio figlio!” on July 12, 1997, with Donald Runnicles conducting; on August 8, 1997, Christoph Eschenbach conducted the ballet music; and on August 3, 2002, Eschenbach again led the ballet music as well as “Pietà, rispetto, amore” with baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

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