Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Riccardo Muti Returns For February Concerts

After leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on a critically acclaimed seven-city, 11-concert European tour in January 2017, Music Director Riccardo Muti returns to Chicago in February for two weeks of concerts and activities, February 13-25. Programs include subscription concerts featuring Yefim Bronfman as soloist in Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto (February 16-18) and the CSO premiere of Prokofiev's concert oratorio of music from the Sergei Eisenstein film Ivan The Terrible (February 23-25). The Prokofiev performances feature Gérard Depardieu as Ivan, Yasen Penyakov as the narrator, and vocal soloists Sasha Cooke and Mikhail Petrenko, as well as the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Chicago Children's Choir. Muti also joins Members of the CSO and Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago for a performance at Holy Name Cathedral on February 17 and conducts a free open rehearsal during the 2017 Chicago Youth in Music Festival on February 13.

Muti begins his February CSO residency with a program (February 16-18) that features works by Rossini, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn. The Overture from Rossini's 1823 opera Semiramide opens the program followed by a performance of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto with Yefim Bronfman as soloist-part of the CSO's season-long cycle of the complete Beethoven piano concertos. The final work on the program is Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 (Reformation). Written to recognize the 300th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, a key document in not only the Lutheran faith, but also an important historical moment in the Protestant Reformation, the symphony includes an inspiring and powerful fourth movement built upon the theme of Martin Luther's great hymn "A Mighty Fortress is our God."

Muti conducts the CSO's first-ever performances of music from Prokofiev's score for Sergei Eisenstein's film Ivan the Terrible (February 23-25 ). The expressive Soviet-era work for orchestra, chorus and soloists is performed in these concerts as an oratorio, originally assembled in 1961 by the Russian conductor Abram Stasevich, who conducted the soundtrack for the film. These performances feature internationally renowned actor Gérard Depardieu as Ivan and Chicago actor Yasen Peyankov as the narrator, as well as Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and internationally acclaimed bass Mikhail Petrenko, as soloists. Michael Brown, a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus recites the part of The Holy Fool. The thrilling and colorful choral episodes in the Prokofiev work feature the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Chicago Children's Choir. The Chicago Symphony Chorus is prepared by its director, Duain Wolfe. The Chicago Children's Choir is prepared by its artistic director, Josephine Lee.

The film, Ivan the Terrible, was the second of two important artistic collaborations between Prokofiev and Eisenstein, with their first being the landmark film Alexander Nevsky. Eisenstein's film Ivan the Terrible chronicles the life of the 16th-century Russian czar Ivan IV, a complex figure with a skill for diplomacy, a hunger for conquest, and a tendency to fall into fits of rage. Prokofiev's score evokes the story of this calculated and erratic antihero with music that broods and thrills. The concert oratorio performed by Muti and the CSO was compiled from the film's original score. The performances of Ivan the Terrible are part of the CSO's season-long celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Prokofiev's birth.

Gérard Depardieu's participation in these performances builds on a history of collaboration between Muti and Depardieu, who together in 2010 performed Ivan the Terrible on the occasion of Muti's 200th concert at the Salzburg Festival. That same year, Depardieu performed the role of the protagonist in Berlioz's Léilo, a sequel to the composer's famed Symphonie fantastique, which Muti conducted and recorded with the CSO, Depardieu, bass Kyle Ketelsen and tenor Mario Zeffiri and the Chicago Symphony Chorus for the CSO Resound label and was released in September 2015.

In addition to the concert performances of Ivan the Terrible, audiences are also invited to attend a free screening of Parts I and II of the Eisenstein film on Sunday, February 19, 2017, at 7:30 p.m at Symphony Center. Riccardo Muti and CSO Program Annotator and Scholar-in-Residence Phillip Huscher offer opening remarks about the film and its score prior to the screening. Admission is free, but reservations are required. More information is available here.

Muti also participates in two additional events during his first CSO residency of 2017. On Monday, February 13 at 7:30 pm, Muti leads an open rehearsal with talented young musicians from across the Chicago area in the culminating event of the 2017 Youth in Music Festival. Presented by the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in partnership with leading community music schools and youth orchestras from across the Chicago area, the Youth in Music Festival invites musicians to join a Festival Orchestra by audition. The open rehearsal is free to the public, but reservations are required. More information is available here.

On Friday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m., Muti leads Members of the CSO in a performance of Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross at Holy Name Cathedral (735 N. State St., Chicago). The nine-movement liturgical work recounts Christ's final moments on the Cross and includes readings of passages from all four of the Gospels. The performance includes participation by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago.

Muti, who has championed Haydn's profound work throughout his career in performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and FilarMonica Della Scala, leads the CSO in only the second performance of the work by the Orchestra since 1979. The concert also marks a much-anticipated return to Holy Name Cathedral, with the Orchestra having performed for Holy Name Cathedral Parish's 150th Jubilee concert in 1999 and a historic 1979 performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 led by then-Music Director Sir Georg Solti with Pope John Paul II in attendance.

In partnership with the CSO, Holy Name Cathedral has provided complimentary concert tickets to more than 200 community members from programs supported by Holy Name Cathedral. General admission tickets are $75. The CSOA will donate a portion of this concert's ticket revenue to Holy Name Cathedral to support its faith formation, ministry of care and outreach programs.

The CSO's music director position is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation.

The February 13 open rehearsal of the 2017 Chicago Youth in Music Festival is sponsored in part by Allstate Insurance Company, the Youth Education Program Sponsor, and with generous gifts from The Negaunee Foundation and Michael and Linda Simon.

The February 16, 17 and 18 performances are generously sponsored by the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Fund for the Canon.

Generous support for the February 17 concert at Holy Name Cathedral is provided by Mary Louise Gorno, the Walter E. Heller Foundation, in honor of Alyce DeCosta, The Julian Family Foundation in memory of Kenneth A. Julian, Eric and Melanie Kalnins, Jim and SuAnne Lopata, Mike and Adele Murphy and Megan and Steve Shebik.

The February 25 concert is endowed in part by the League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

The February 23, 24 and 25 performances are generously sponsored by an anonymous donor.

The appearance of the guest artists in the performances of Ivan the Terrible are made possible with the generous sponsorship of Josef and Margot Lakonishok.

Tickets for all CSOA-presented concerts can be purchased by phone at 800-223-7114 or 312-294-3000; online at, or at the Symphony center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.

Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.

Chicago Youth in Music Festival
Open Rehearsal

Monday, February 13, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Youth in Music Festival Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, conductor

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4, Op. 36

Tickets: free, reservation required

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 8:00 p.m.
Friday, February 17, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 18, 2017, at 8:00 p.m.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano

ROSSINI Overture to Semiramide
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 5 in D major (Reformation)

Tickets: $36-$261

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Special Concert
Holy Name Cathedral
735 N State Street
Chicago IL 60611

Friday, February 17, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.
Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchesta
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago,
special guest

HAYDN The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross

Tickets: $75

Film Screening

Sunday, February 19, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.
Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and II
with music by Sergei Prokofiev

Pre-screening remarks by Riccardo Muti and
CSO Program Annotator and Scholar-in-Residence
Phillip Huscher

Part I is 99 minutes. Part II is 85 minutes.
Film is not rated.

Tickets: Free, reservation required, more info here.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 8:00 p.m.
Friday, February 24, 2017, at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 25, 2017, at 8:00 p.m.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Gérard Depardieu, Ivan
Yasen Peyankov, Narrator
Michael Brown, The Holy Fool
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Mikhail Petrenko, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director
Chicago Children's Choir
Josephine Lee, artistic director

PROKOFIEV Ivan the Terrible

NOTE: This program is performed without intermission.

Tickets: $34-$220


Riccardo Muti

Riccardo Muti, born in Naples, Italy, is one of the preeminent conductors of our day. In 2010, when he became the tenth music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), he already had more than forty years of experience at the helm of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Philharmonia Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Teatro alla Scala. He is a guest conductor for orchestras and opera houses all over the world: the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera, and many others.

Muti studied piano under Vincenzo Vitale at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella in his hometown of Naples, graduating with distinction. He subsequently received a diploma in composition and conducting from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, also graduating with distinction. His principal teachers were Bruno Bettinelli and Antonino Votto, principal assistant to Arturo Toscanini at La Scala. After he won the Guido Cantelli Conducting Competition-by unanimous vote of the jury-in Milan in 1967, Muti's career developed quickly. In 1968, he became principal conductor of Florence's Maggio Musicale, a position that he held until 1980.

Herbert von Karajan invited him to conduct at the Salzburg Festival in Austria in 1971, and Muti has maintained a close relationship with the summer festival and with its great orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, for more than forty-five years. When he conducted the philharmonic's 150th anniversary concert in 1992, he was presented with the Golden Ring, a special sign of esteem and affection, and in 2001, his outstanding artistic contributions to the orchestra were further recognized with the Otto Nicolai Gold Medal. He is also a recipient of a silver medal from the Salzburg Mozarteum for his contribution to the music of W.A. Mozart. He is an honorary member of Vienna's Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music), the Vienna Hofmusikkapelle, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Vienna State Opera.

Muti succeeded Otto Klemperer as chief conductor and music director of London's Philharmonia Orchestra in 1973, holding that position until 1982. From 1980 to 1992, he was music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and in 1986, he became music director of Milan's Teatro alla Scala. During his nineteen-year tenure, in addition to directing major projects such as the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy and Wagner Ring cycle, Muti conducted operatic and symphonic repertoire ranging from the baroque to the contemporary, also leading hundreds of concerts with the FilarMonica Della Scala and touring the world with both the opera company and the orchestra. His tenure as music director, the longest of any in La Scala's history, culminated in the triumphant reopening of the restored opera house with Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta, originally commissioned for La Scala's inaugural performance in 1778.

Throughout his career, Muti has dedicated much time and effort to training young musicians. In 2004, he founded the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini (Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra), based in his native Italy. He regularly tours with the ensemble to prestigious concert halls and opera houses all over the world. In 2015, he founded the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy in Ravenna, Italy, to train young conductors, répétiteurs, and singers in the Italian opera repertoire. He was invited to bring a similar program to South Korea in 2016, establishing the first of its kind in Asia.

Since 1997, as part of Le vie dell'Amicizia (The paths of friendship), a project of the Ravenna Festival in Italy, Muti has annually conducted large-scale concerts in war-torn and poverty-stricken areas around the world, using music to bring hope, unity, and attention to present day social, cultural, and humanitarian issues.

Muti has received innumerable international honors. He is a Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Italian Republic, Officer of the French Legion of Honor, and a recipient of the German Verdienstkreuz. Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on him the title of honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded him the Order of Friendship, and Pope Benedict XVI made him a Knight of the Grand Cross First Class of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great-the highest papal honor. Muti also has received Israel's Wolf Prize for the arts, Sweden's prestigious Birgit Nilsson Prize, Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, Japan's Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Star, and the gold medal from Italy's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his promotion of Italian culture abroad. He has received more than twenty honorary degrees from universities around the world.

Considered one of the greatest interpreters of Verdi in our time, Muti wrote a book on the composer, Verdi, l'italiano, published in Italian, German, and Japanese. His first book, Riccardo Muti: An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words, also has been published in several languages.

Riccardo Muti's vast catalog of recordings, numbering in the hundreds, ranges from the traditional symphonic and operatic repertoires to contemporary works. His debut recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Verdi's Messa da Requiem, released in 2010 by CSO Resound, won two Grammy awards. His second recording with the CSO and Chorus, Verdi's Otello, released in 2013 by CSO Resound, won the 2014 International Opera Award for the Best Complete Opera.

During his time with the CSO, Muti has won over audiences in greater Chicago and across the globe through his music making as well as his demonstrated commitment to sharing classical music. His first annual free concert as CSO music director attracted more than 25,000 people to Millennium Park. He regularly invites subscribers, students, seniors, and people of low incomes to attend, at no charge, his CSO rehearsals. Muti's commitment to artistic excellence and to creating a strong bond between an orchestra and its communities continues to bring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to ever higher levels of achievement and renown.

Other featured artists for these programs:

Yefim Bronfman (February 16-18)
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago (February 17)
Gérard Depardieu (February 23-25)
Yasen Peyankov (February 23-25)
Sasha Cooke (February 23-25)
Mikhail Petrenko (February 23-25)

Chicago Symphony Chorus (February 23-25)
Duain Wolfe (February 23-25)

Chicago Children's Choir (February 23-25)
Josephine Lee (February 23-25)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: and
Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Since 2010, the preeminent conductor Riccardo Muti has served as its 10th music director. Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO's Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, and Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek are its Mead Composers-in-Residence.

From baroque through contemporary music, the CSO commands a vast repertoire. Its renowned musicians annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in Chicago and, each summer, at the suburban Ravinia Festival. They regularly tour nationally and internationally. Since 1892, the CSO has made 60 international tours, performing in 29 countries on five continents.

People around the globe listen to weekly radio broadcasts of CSO concerts and recordings on the WFMT radio network and online at . Recordings by the CSO have earned 62 Grammy Awards, including two in 2011 for Muti's recording with the CSO and Chorus of Verdi's Messa da Requiem (Muti's first of seven releases with the CSO to date). Find details on these and many other CSO recordings at

The CSO is part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, which also includes the Chicago Symphony Chorus (Duain Wolfe, Director and Conductor) and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training ensemble for emerging professionals. Through its prestigious Symphony Center Presents series, the CSOA presents guest artists and ensembles from a variety of genres-classical, jazz, world, and contemporary.

The Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO offers community and education programs that annually engage more than 200,000 people of diverse ages and backgrounds. Through the Institute and other activities, including a free annual concert led by Muti, the CSO is committed to using the power of music to create connections and build community.

The CSO is supported by thousands of patrons, volunteers and institutional and individual donors. The CSO's music director position is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation. The Negaunee Foundation provides generous support in perpetuity for the work of the Negaunee Music Institute.

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