Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 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. Pierre Boulez is the CSO’s Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus; Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. Mason Bates and Anna Clyne are the CSO’s Mead Composers-in-Residence.
From baroque through contemporary music, the CSO commands a vast classical repertoire. With programs such as MusicNOW® and Beyond the Score®, as well as an annual spring festival, the Orchestra uses innovative approaches to develop new audiences.
The renowned musicians of the CSO annually perform more than 150 concerts, most from September through June in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center in downtown Chicago, and, each summer since 1936, at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago’s northern suburbs. In 2013, the CSO began to present concerts in June in Chicago’s western suburbs.
The Orchestra tours nationally and internationally. Since 1892, the CSO has made fifty-eight international tours, performing in twenty-nine countries on five continents. At home and abroad, CSO concert tickets are in high demand and frequently sold out.
Since 1916, recording has been significant in establishing the Orchestra’s international reputation, with recordings by the CSO earning a total of sixty-two Grammy awards. Muti’s first recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, with the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Released in 2010, it won two Grammy awards. The second recording, Verdi’s Otello, also with the Chorus, was released in 2013. It won an International Opera Award. The third, Riccardo Muti Conducts Mason Bates and Anna Clyne, and the fourth, Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet, were released in 2014. All are on the CSO’s own label, CSO Resound (cso.org/Resound), and all are available online, including iTunes.
People around the globe listen to the sounds of the Orchestra through weekly broadcasts of the CSO Radio Broadcast Series on the WFMT radio network and online at cso.org/Radio.
The CSO is part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA), which also includes the Chicago Symphony Chorus, directed and conducted by Duain Wolfe, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training ensemble for young preprofessional musicians that is led by a variety of distinguished conductors. Through a series called Symphony Center Presents, the CSOA brings internationally known guest artists and ensembles from a variety of musical genres—classical, jazz, pop, world, and contemporary—to Chicago.
The Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra offers a range of youth, community, and education programs that engage more than 200,000 people of diverse ages, incomes, and backgrounds. Through the programs of the Institute as well as many other activities, including projects at schools and community venues that are initiated by CSO musicians and a free annual concert with Riccardo Muti and the CSO, the CSO promotes the concept of Citizen Musicianship™: using the power of music to create connections and build community.
A nonprofit charitable organization, the CSOA is governed by a voluntary board of trustees made up of leaders from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors and the community at large. The CSO is supported by tens of thousands of other volunteers; patrons; and corporate, foundation, government, 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. Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the CSO.
Learn more at cso.org, and go to csosoundsandstories.org for the CSO’s free multimedia magazine. CSO Sounds & Stories offers radio webcasts of concerts and commercial recordings, short audio and video clips with music, interviews, and stories, videos of concerts and Beyond the Score® productions, and articles about the music and musicians presented at Symphony Center: Riccardo Muti, the CSO musicians, and many others.