Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, Music Director and Conductor
Clémentine Margaine, Mezzo-Soprano
Jay Friedman, Trombone
Michael Mulcahy, Trombone
Charles Vernon, Bass Trombone
Gene Pokorny, Tuba
STRAVINSKY Scherzo fantastique
JENNIFER HIGDON Low Brass Concerto (NY Premiere)
CHAUSSON Poème de l' amour et de la mer
BRITTEN Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes
MARTUCCI Notturno, Op. 70, No. 1
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's performance is generously sponsored by Betty W. Smykal.
Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
At a Glance
IGOR STRAVINSKY Scherzo fantastique, Op. 3
The Scherzo fantastique is the first music by Stravinsky that impresario Sergei Diaghilev heard, and, on the basis of this work as well as the orchestral Feu d’artifice (Fireworks), Diaghilev offered the Russian composer a job, and together they made history. Although Stravinsky’s utterly original voice is not always consistently recognizable here, the Scherzo fantastique is like an early painting in a retrospective exhibition that paves the way for the great, revolutionary canvases of later years.
JENNIFER HIGDON Low Brass Concerto
Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Music and the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition that same year, Jennifer Higdon’s hold on audiences began much earlier. Her first opera, Cold Mountain (based on Charles Frazier’s bestselling novel), sold out its entire run of six performances at the Santa Fe Opera. Higdon has written extensively for orchestra over the years, and her newest concerto casts its spotlight on the “low brass” that is a subset of sorts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s long-acclaimed brass section.
ERNEST CHAUSSON Poème de l’amour et de la mer
Chausson’s career as a composer lasted barely 15 years, and work on the Poème de l’amour et de la mer occupied him for 10 of those. He set two of his friend Maurice Bouchor’s poems about lost love as large pieces for voice and orchestra, separating them by a short, pensive orchestral interlude. The work is unique in form—it’s neither a loose collection of songs nor a narrative song cycle—but with his exquisite, expressive music, Chausson turns Bouchor’s unremarkable poems into a great, probing monologue.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Op. 33a
Britten set Peter Grimes, his first major opera, in a small fishing village that could easily be the seaside town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, which he helped to make famous. The orchestral interludes that divide the scenes of Peter Grimes are distinct from the rest of the opera (they are to be played with the curtain down), yet they’re indispensable to its meaning and impact. After the triumphant premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945, Britten realized that the interludes could stand alone as evocative sea pictures, and he selected four to be played as a suite.
Born in Naples, Italy, Riccardo Muti is one of the preeminent conductors of our day. In 2010, when he became the 10th music director of the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), he had more than 40 years of experience at the helm of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (1968–1980), the Philharmonia Orchestra (1973–1982), The Philadelphia Orchestra (1980–1992), and Teatro alla Scala (1986–2005). He also has had a close relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Salzburg Festival for more than 45 years, and is an honorary member of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Vienna Hofmusikkapelle, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vienna State Opera.
Mr. Muti has received innumerable international honors. He is a Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Italian Republic, Knight Commander of the British Empire, Officer of the French Legion of Honor, Knight of the Grand Cross First Class of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and a recipient of the German Verdienstkreuz and the Russian Order of Friendship. Mr. Muti has also received Israel’s Wolf Prize for the arts, Sweden’s Birgit Nilsson Prize, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award, Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Star decoration, and the gold medal from Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the prestigious Presidente della Repubblica award from the Italian government. He has received more than 20 honorary degrees from universities around the world.
Mr. Muti’s vast catalog of recordings, numbering in the hundreds, ranges from traditional symphonic and operatic repertoire to contemporary works. He also has written two books, Verdi, l’italiano and Riccardo Muti: An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words, both of which have been published in several languages.
Passionate about teaching young musicians, Mr. Muti founded the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in 2004 and the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy in 2015. Visit riccardomutimusic.com for more information.
Jay Friedman joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal trombone in 1962 under Fritz Reiner and was appointed principal in 1965 by Jean Martinon. He has been soloist with the CSO on several occasions, starting in 1969 with Bloch’s Symphony for Trombone and Orchestra followed by Creston’s Fantasy for Trombone and Orchestra with Georg Solti conducting in 1976. In 1991, he performed Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s concerto written especially for him.
Michael Mulcahy has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1989, having previously served as principal trombone in the Tasmanian and Melbourne symphony orchestras and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. A prizewinner of three international competitions in Europe, he appears worldwide as a soloist and teacher. Mr. Mulcahy has been professor of trombone at Northwestern University since 1999 and visiting artist at the Australian National Academy of Music since 2016.
Charles Vernon has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1986, having previously been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He has premiered works by Christian Lindberg and Eric Ewazen, and performed the world premiere of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Concerto for Bass Trombone, which was commissioned for the CSO’s centennial. He is also a professor at DePaul University.
Gene Pokorny joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as principal tuba in 1989. He was previously a member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Utah and St. Louis symphonies, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition to playing on the soundtracks for films such as Jurassic Park and The Fugitive, he performs in chamber music, opera orchestras, and orchestra festivals worldwide, and holds an annual seminar at the University of Redlands in California.
Considered one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of her generation, Clémentine Margaine has gained international acclaim in recent seasons, performing at such venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Paris, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Semperoper Dresden, Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Australia, and Canadian Opera Company.
In the 2017–2018 season, Ms. Margaine makes significant role debuts as Fides in a new production of Meyerbeer’s Le prophète at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as Amneris in Aida with Opera Australia, and as Concepción in L’heure espagnole at the Opéra de Paris. She also makes her debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona as Léonor in Donizetti’s La favorite and at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse in Carmen. Other engagements this season include La favorite in Marseille and Munich, as well as a new production of Carmen in Berlin. Ms. Margaine began the season singing Marguerite in a concert performance of La damnation de Faust in Bucharest.
Ms. Margaine sang her first Carmen, a role for which she has won international acclaim, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and she has since performed the role in Munich, Rome, Naples, Dallas, Toronto, and Washington, DC, as well as for her debuts at the Metropolitan Opera and Opéra de Paris. She also debuted recently at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Dulcinée in Massenet’s Don Quichotte. Other roles in her repertoire include Didon in Les Troyens, Charlotte in Werther, Dalila in Samson et Dalila, and Adalgisa in Norma.
In concert, Ms. Margaine recently made her debut at the Musikverein in Vienna in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Orchestre National de France under the baton of Daniele Gatti, and appeared with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra in Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette under Stéphane Denève.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Its music director since 2010 is Riccardo Muti, one of the preeminent conductors of our day. Founded in 1891 by its first music director, Theodore Thomas, the CSO’s other illustrious music directors have included Frederick Stock, Désiré Defauw, Artur Rodzinski, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, and the current Mead Composers-in-Residence are Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek.
The renowned musicians of the CSO command a vast repertoire and annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in Chicago, and, since 1936, in the summer at the Ravinia Festival. The CSO also tours nationally and internationally. Since its first tour to Canada in 1892, the orchestra has performed in 29 countries on five continents during 60 international tours.
Since 1916, recording has been significant in establishing the orchestra’s international reputation, with recordings by the CSO earning a total of 62 Grammy Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Its independent label, CSO Resound, was launched in 2007. The 2010 release of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, with the CSO and Chicago Symphony Chorus conducted by Mr. Muti, was recognized with two Grammy Awards. Listeners around the world can hear the CSO in weekly airings of the CSO Radio Broadcast Series, which is syndicated on the WFMT Radio Network and online at CSO.org/radio.
Thousands of patrons, volunteers, and donors support the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association each year. 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. Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the CSO.