year in review
Riccardo Muti coaches Sean Kubota during
a reading session of the Civic Orchestra
aunched by Riccardo Muti
during his inaugural season
as CSO music director, the
biennial Sir Georg Solti Conducting
Apprenticeship offers one promising
young conductor two years of rare
access to and guidance from an
honored tradition of musical leadership.
Building on the legacy of the late
Sir Georg Solti (CSO music director
1969–91) and his work in opera houses,
Maestro Muti, who was music director
for Milan’s
Teatro alla Scala
for 19 years,
mentors the next generation of young
conductors to lead an orchestra and
command a broad repertoire by ably
coaching singers from the piano.
From the moment he was named the
first-ever Sir Georg Solti Conducting
Apprentice in February 2011, Japanese-
born conductor Sean Kubota became
an integral member of the CSO
family. For two and a half seasons,
Kubota observed dozens of rehearsals,
accompanied the Orchestra on tour,
met regularly with Maestro Muti, and
rehearsed and conducted the Civic
Orchestra of Chicago. At the close of
his term as a Solti Apprentice, when
asked about his experience, Kubota
spoke of how Maestro Muti’s luminary
musical leadership has influenced his
own artistic development. “I learned a
great deal from how he approaches the
music and the musicians to create an
extraordinary environment.” He also
recalled how and why Muti encouraged
him to learn Italian in order to better
understand the operatic repertory.
During a rehearsal of Verdi’s
(the first rehearsal Kubota observed as
the new Apprentice), Maestro Muti
explained to Sean that “the reason
you must understand the language
is because each musical note has
a very close relationship with the
corresponding words and its meanings.
As a conductor, you have to know
exactly what kind of color each note
should be given and the answer is
always in the text.”
The second conducting competition
occurred in early June of 2013 and
was adjudicated by an esteemed panel
led by Maestro Muti and legendary
singer Marilyn Horne, as well as CSO
concertmaster Robert Chen. From 119
applicants representing 39 countries,
Matthew Aucoin was named the
winner following an intensive day of
conducting the Civic Orchestra and
working with singers from the piano.
Aucoin begins his apprenticeship in fall
2013 and brings with him extensive
experience as a conductor, composer
and performer.
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