The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Presents Its Spring Festival, TRUTH TO POWER, 5/19-6/8

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Presents Its Spring Festival, TRUTH TO POWER, 5/19-6/8

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) presents its annual spring festival from May 19 to June 8, 2014, which this year is entitled Truth to Power. Inspired by the phrase "speaking truth to power"-part of a 1955 Quaker treatise that outlined alternatives to violence and served as a cornerstone for the pacifist movement-the Truth to Power Festival highlights the works of Dmitri Shostakovich, Benjamin Britten and Sergei Prokofiev, three composers who believed in music's ability to connect people and thus harness the power of shared experience.

"Those who make music know well the importance of using creative expression to influence our society," said CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti. "Far from excusing us from comment and action, our profession gives us a unique voice with which to communicate at the deepest level with those around us. It is only with music that enthusiastic praise and sharp protest becomes possible."

Crossing musical genres, the Festival includes three CSO programs focused on the works of Britten, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, as well as a Symphony Center Presents (SCP) Jazz world premiere, an SCP Piano recital, and the Civic Orchestra performing a Beyond the Score® program. The Festival also features screenings of film clips as well as lectures and discussions on the concept of "truth to power," including the creative challenges and triumphs of poets and filmmakers who were contemporaries of the three featured composers.

Guest conductor Jaap van Zweden leads the CSO in three distinct programs of music by Britten, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Their belief that artists should serve society by creating work that would inspire justice and fairness produced such masterworks as Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 7, Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 and Britten's Sinfonia da requiem. The CSO concerts, all led by van Zweden, take place on May 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 and June 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and violinist Simone Lamsma-in her CSO debut-perform as soloists during the three-week festival.

"The most beautiful flowers grow on mud," said van Zweden about the theme of the Festival. "Composers in their darkest moments produce the most amazing music, The beauty behind the name 'Truth to Power' is that these composers [ed. Britten, Prokofiev and Shostakovich] stuck to their own personal convictions and power during extremely difficult periods in their lives, writing works which in turn have lasted as powerful statements of that era in spite of their personal situations."

Van Zweden has appeared as a guest conductor with the CSO each season since his debut with the Orchestra as a last-minute substitute in 2008. He last appeared with the CSO during the 2012/13 season leading a program of music by Mason Bates, Mozart and Bartók.

Before all CSO concerts in the Festival there are free discussions led by poets and literary scholars from the Poetry Foundation, as well as the CSO's Artistic Programming Advisor Gerard McBurney, who is a noted expert on Russian music.

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a preprofessional training ensemble affiliated with the CSO, participates in the Festival by giving a special Beyond the Score® performance of Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 on Wednesday, June 4 at 8 p.m. Led by van Zweden, the program includes a multimedia and theatrical exploration of Prokofiev's landmark work, followed after intermission by a complete performance of the work.

The SCP Piano series features pianist Vladimir Feltsman in a solo recital on Sunday, June 1 at 3 p.m. with Prokofiev's turbulent Sonata No. 6 as the centerpiece of the afternoon's program.

Truth to Power also reaches to the SCP Jazz series, when pianist Jason Moran and visual artist Theaster Gates collaborate for the first time on a commissioned work, Looks of a Lot, which receives its world premiere Friday, May 30 at 8 p.m. during the festival.

Please click here ( to view a complete listing of Truth to Power Festival events.

Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the CSO. Festival partners and sponsors include the Poetry Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, Gene Siskel Film Center, Music Box Theatre, WBEZ 91.5 and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Truth to Power Festival is made possible by a generous leadership gift from The Grainger Foundation. Additional support for the Truth to Power Festival is provided from these generous supporters: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Richard & Mary L. Gray, U.S. Equities Realty, LLC and the Susan and Robert Winslow Charitable Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Richard J. Franke, and The Wayne Balmer Grantor Trust. CSO Tuesday series concerts are sponsored by United. The Symphony Center Presents Jazz series is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank. The appearance of Simone Lamsma (June 5-8) is endowed in part by the Nuveen investments Emerging Artist Fund.

Program and Ticket Details

Tickets for Truth to Power Festival and all CSO-presented concerts can be purchased by phone at 800?223?7114 or312-294?3000; online at, or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.

Discounted student tickets for select concerts can be purchased, subject to availability, online in advance or at the box office on the day of the concert. For group rates, please call 312-294-3040.

Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.

Click here to download complete event listing information forTruth to Power Festival events.

About Vladimir Feltsman