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Stern bio

Nineteen-year-old Isaac Stern first appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on January 11 and 12, 1940. Frederick Stock conducted an all-Sibelius program, and Stern was soloist in the Violin Concerto.

According to the Chicago Daily News, “Dr. Frederick Stock had been invited to conduct the Sibelius concert with the Helsingfors Orchestra [arranged when Stock visited Sibelius in Finland the previous summer] as a special feature of the Olympic Games.* But Finland has had to abandon peacetime pursuits and now Isaac can thank the Russian regime for both his American citizenship and the chance to play the Sibelius D minor concerto with one of the world’s great orchestras.”

“True to the topsy-turvy condition of the world we live in, while the Finns are playing havoc with the Russians, at home a Russian-born violinist, young Isaac Stern, was the sensation of Mr. Stock’s memorable Sibelius concert at Orchestra Hall last night,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Journal of Commerce. “[Stern] has a commanding and comprehensive technique, a bold and beautiful tone never blatant and he has an urgent intensity of projection that seems to start in his firmly planted heels and flow like fire into the hands that make his music. . . . Stock’s accompaniment was brilliant in the perceptive richness that makes so many soloists prefer him to any other conductor.”

Isaac Stern and music director designate Daniel Barenboim after the Centennial Gala concert on October 6, 1990

Isaac Stern and music director designate Daniel Barenboim after the Centennial Gala concert on October 6, 1990 (Jim Steere photo)

Over the course of the next fifty-two years, Stern was one of the Orchestra’s most frequent guests at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, performing under six music directors (Stock, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim) and a variety of guest conductors, including Fritz Busch, Andrew Davis, Carlo Maria Giulini, Otto Klemperer, Josef Krips, Pierre Monteux, Eugene Ormandy, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Slatkin. In 1986, Stern and Yo-Yo Ma recorded Brahms’s Concerto for Violin and Cello with Claudio Abbado for CBS.

*On July 16, 1938, a year after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, it was announced that the 1940 Summer Olympics would not be held in Tokyo, as originally scheduled. The International Olympic Committee then awarded the games to Helsinki, the runner-up city in the original bidding process. However, following the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, the Olympic Games were indefinitely suspended and did not resume until 1948.

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)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra notes with sorrow the passing of violinist Jacques Israelievitch, who served the Orchestra as assistant concertmaster from 1972 until 1978. He died on September 5, 2015, at the age of 67.

Jacques Israelievitch 1972

A graduate of Indiana University where he was a student of Josef Gingold, twenty-three-year-old Israelievitch was hired by Sir Georg Solti in June 1972, to succeed Samuel Magad, who recently had assumed the position of co-concertmaster.

Born in Cannes, France, Israelievitch received first prize at the Conservatory of Le Mans at the age of eleven. Admitted to the Paris Conservatory when he was thirteen, he graduated three years later with first prizes in violin, chamber music, and solfège, and the following year he received a license of concert from the École Normale de Musique in Paris.

After winning one of the top awards in the Paganini Competition in Genoa, Italy (where he was the youngest contestant) he was advised by his sponsor Henryk Szeryng to attend Indiana University as a student of Gingold. During his time in Indiana, Israelievitch also studied chamber music with William Primrose and János Starker.

Following his years in Chicago, Israelievitch served as concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for ten years and then as concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for twenty years. He taught at the Chautauqua Institution and was on the faculties of the University of Toronto and York University. Music director of the Koffler Chamber Orchestra from 2005, Israelievitch also appeared as guest conductor with several orchestras in the United States and Canada. He was violinist for the New Arts Trio; and he performed chamber music with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Yo-Yo Ma. His discography comprises more than 100 albums, including the first complete recording of Rodolphe Kreutzer’s Forty-two Studies or Caprices for the Violin.

Edgar and Nancy Muenzer, Israelievitch, and Samuel and Miriam Magad at the June 3, 2011, CSO Alumni Association reunion (Dan Rest photo)

Edgar and Nancy Muenzer, Israelievitch, and Samuel and Miriam Magad at the June 3, 2011, CSO Alumni Association reunion (Dan Rest photo)

In 2004 the French government named Israelievitch an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. He also was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award for his distinguished contribution to the performing arts in Canada, and recently in August he was presented the Insignia of the Order of Canada in a private ceremony at his home.

Services have been held. Israelievitch is survived by his wife, Gabrielle; three sons, David (of Seattle), Michael (of San Francisco) and Joshua (of Northern California); and two grandchildren. His son Michael had just been named acting principal timpanist of the San Francisco Symphony.

Wishing a very happy seventieth birthday to Itzhak Perlman!

Itzhak Perlman

A frequent and favorite guest artist in Chicago, Perlman has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as both violin soloist and conductor on numerous occasions. He first appeared with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on August 4, 1966 (a few weeks shy of his twenty-first birthday), in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Thomas Schippers conducting, and he first appeared at Orchestra Hall on May 11 and 12, 1967, in Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto with Jean Martinon conducting.

Most recently, Perlman was soloist with the Orchestra downtown on March 7, 2011, in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Clark McAlister’s arrangement of Kreisler‘s Liebesfreud with James DePreist conducting, and at Ravinia on August 7, 2013, in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Carlos Miguel Prieto conducting.

Itzhak Perlman (photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

Itzhak Perlman (Lisa Marie Mazzucco photo)

As a conductor, Perlman first led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 25, 1999, in Bach’s Second Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s First Romance for Violin (also performing as soloist), along with Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde and Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. He has led the Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on one occasion, on November 17, 2008, in Bach’s First Violin Concerto (also performing as soloist), Mozart’s Symphony no. 35, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Most recently, he conducted the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on August 8, 2013, leading Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture, Haydn’s Second Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein, and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

Perlman also has recorded several times with the Orchestra, as follows:

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 77
Recorded in Medinah Temple, November and December 1976
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Angel
1978 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album

Perlman Brahms

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, September 1996
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Teldec

ELGAR Violin Concerto in B Minor, Op. 61
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon
1982 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with orchestra)

MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1993
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Erato

recording session

Barenboim and Perlman recording in Orchestra Hall in May 1993 (Jim Steere photo)

PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1993
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Erato

STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D Major
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, September 1994
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Teldec

Happy, happy birthday!

Claudio Abbado, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal guest conductor from 1982 until 1985, recorded extensively with the Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Chorus beginning in 1976 through 1991 on CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony, as well as several releases on the CSO’s From the Archives series. A complete list of those recordings is below.

Bartok Piano Concertos

BARTÓK Concerto for Piano No. 1
Maurizio Pollini, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979 Gramophone Award for Concerto

BARTÓK Concerto for Piano No. 2
Maurizio Pollini, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979 Gramophone Award for Concerto

Berlioz Symphonie fantastique x

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Isaac Stern, violin
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

BRUCH Concerto for Violin No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

CHOPIN Concerto for Piano No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Ivo Pogorelich, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

GABRIELI Jubilate Deo and Miserere mei Deus from Sacrae symphoniae
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1986
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 13: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration)

Mozart and Haydn concertos

HAYDN Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat Major
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

HAYDN Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat Major for Violin, Cello, Oboe, and Bassoon, Op. 84
Samuel Magad, violin
Frank Miller, cello
Ray Still, oboe
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 2: Soloists of the Orchestra)

MAHLER Rückert Lieder
Hanna Schwarz, mezzo-soprano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

Mahler Symphony No. 2

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Carol Neblett, soprano
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple, February 1976
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1979 and February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, January and February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Violin in E Minor, Op. 64
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Bassoon in B-flat Major, K. 191
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Horn No. 3 in E-flat Major, K. 447
Dale Clevenger, horn
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Oboe in C Major, K. 314
Ray Still, oboe
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Kyrie in D Minor, K. 341
Chicago Symphony Chorus
James Winfield, associate director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1983
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

MUSSORGSKY Coronation Scene from Boris Godunov
Philip Langridge, tenor
Ruggero Raimondi, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1984
CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra–The First 100 Years)

MUSSORGSKY Joshua
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

MUSSORGSKY Chorus of Priestesses from Salammbô
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February and March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February and March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

Prokofiev Scythian and Kije

PROKOFIEV Lieutenant Kijé, Op. 60
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Scythian Suite
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon

RACHMANINOV Concerto for Piano No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Cecile Licad, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CBS

RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Cecile Licad, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CBS

Tchaikovsky 1812

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture, Op. 49
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1990
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Marche slav, Op. 31
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Suite No. 1 from The Nutcracker, Op. 71a
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1991
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1988
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 (Winter Dreams)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1991
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 17 (Little Russian)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1984
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Op. 29 (Polish)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, Feburary 1990
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1988
CBS

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1985
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY The Tempest, Op. 18
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1984
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Le Voyevode, Op. 78
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1985
CBS

WAGNER A Faust Overture
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra–The First 100 Years)

WEBERN Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 5: Guests in the House)

Statements on Claudio Abbado’s passing from Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found on CSO Sounds and Stories.

Claudio Abbado

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Claudio Abbado, who served as our principal guest conductor from 1982 until 1985. Abbado died peacefully on Monday, January 20 in Bologna, Italy, following a long illness. He was 80.

A frequent and beloved guest conductor, Abbado made his debut with the Orchestra in January 1971, leading three weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall as well as a run-out concert to Milwaukee:

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971
January 11, 1971 (Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Josef Suk, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

debut program

. . . and Abbado’s program book biography

debut program page

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971, program page . . .

January 14 & 15, 1971
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Helen Watts, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Barbara Born, director

January 21, 22 & 23, 1971
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Maurizio Pollini, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor

He returned to Chicago frequently, both before and after his tenure as principal guest conductor—also leading domestic tour concerts including stops at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Carnegie Hall—and his final appearances with the Orchestra were in March 1991. Abbado’s residencies included numerous collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and he also led the Civic Orchestra of Chicago on multiple occasions.

His repertoire with the Orchestra covered a broad spectrum including symphonies by Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky; concertos by Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Bruch, Chopin, Hindemith, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Schoenberg, Schumann, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky; as well as twentieth-century works by Boulez, Ligeti, Rihm, and Webern. Some of Abbado’s most memorable concerts included complete performances of Berg’s Wozzeck, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, Schoenberg’s Ewartung, Stockhausen’s Gruppen for Three Orchestras, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Pulcinella, and Verdi’s Requiem.

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg's Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg’s Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado collaborated with a vast array of soloists including instrumentalists Salvatore Accardo, Carter Brey, Natalia Gutman, Yuzuko Horigome, Zoltán Kocsis, Cecile Licad, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, Shlomo Mintz, Viktoria Mullova, Ken Noda, Ivo Pogorelich, Maurizio Pollini, David Schrader, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Josef Suk, and Pinchas Zukerman; vocalists Francisco Araiza, Hildegard Behrens, Gabriela Beňačková, Rockwell Blake, Claudio Desderi, Maria Ewing, Donald Gramm, Aage Haugland, Marilyn Horne, Gwynne Howell, Philip Langridge, Benjamin Luxon, Carol Neblett, Margaret Price, Ruggero Raimondi, Samuel Ramey, Hanna Schwarz, Ellen Shade, John Shirley-Quirk, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, and Helen Watts; narrator Maximilian Schell; and CSO members Victor Aitay, Dale Clevenger, Willard Elliot, Adolph Herseth, Samuel Magad, Frank Miller, Mary Sauer, and Ray Still.

Following his last CSO guest conducting engagement in 1991, Abbado returned to Chicago on three occasions with the Berlin Philharmonic:

Berlin program

Abbado’s final appearance in Chicago, with the Berlin Philharmonic on October 10, 2001

October 22, 1993
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

October 18, 1999
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Anna Larsson, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director

October 10, 2001
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Statements on Claudio Abbado’s passing from Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found on CSO Sounds and Stories.

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To launch the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 100th season, an all-star cast of conductors and soloists was assembled for a gala opening concert on October 6, 1990. From left to right, back row: Associate Conductor Kenneth Jean, András Schiff, Lorin Maazel, Gary Lakes, Sylvia McNair, Samuel Ramey; middle row: Music Director Designate Daniel Barenboim, Lady Valerie Solti, Music Director Sir Georg Solti, Leonard Slatkin, Yo-Yo Ma; front row: Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, Susanne Mentzer, and Murray Perahia.

Lady Solti served as host and the concert program was as follows:

WAGNER Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

BIZET Adagietto from L’arlésienne Suite No. 1
Lorin Maazel, conductor

HAYDN Allegro molto from Cello Concerto in C Major, Hob. VIIb:1
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

DVOŘÁK Allegro from Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello
Lorin Maazel, conductor

CORIGLIANO Bells of Ravello
Kenneth Jean, conductor

MOZART Adagio in E Major, K. 261 and Rondo in C Major, K. 373
Isaac Stern, violin
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

BARBER Essay No. 2, Op. 17
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

MOZART Andante and Allegro vivace assai from Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Murray Perahia, piano and conductor

BRAHMS Rondo: Allegro non troppo from Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
András Schiff, piano
Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor

STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

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

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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