The upcoming Chicago Symphony Orchestra Season is announced

Artistic highlights of the 2024/25 Season

Anticipation surrounds the mid-winter announcement of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s upcoming season, and this year’s, on Feb. 28, was no exception.

The cover of the 2024/25 Season brochure reads “Many legends, one sound” in reference to the incomparable musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the world-class guest artists who come to Symphony Center, and the season’s repertoire, which includes many vivid stories told in music. Works such as the blustering tone poems Don Quixote and Don Juan by Strauss, Grieg’s vivid Peer Gynt, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Bartók’s ethereal Bluebeard’s Castle are sure to stir listeners’ imaginations.

One of the season’s most spellbinding offerings is Hector Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, a légende dramatique inspired by Goethe’s Faust, to be conducted by CSO Music Director Emeritus for Life Riccardo Muti at the season’s conclusion. A remarkable roster of soloists joins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for one of Muti’s signature operas in concert and a performance of one of the most compelling 19th-century French works.

These Berlioz performances conclude one of two Chicago residencies for the Italian maestro. His first program, beginning Oct. 31, features Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor), performed by Mitsuko Uchida, and Third Symphony (Eroica). Muti’s next concert includes Verdi’s Four Seasons from I vespri siciliani and the world premiere of former CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Osvaldo Golijov’s Megalopolis Suite, distilled from his score to Francis Ford Coppola’s 2024 film. Completing the program are works inspired by the landscapes and culture of Spain, specifically Chabrier’s España and Falla’s Suite No. 2 from The Three-Cornered Hat. For Muti’s first June 2025 concerts, he conducts Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 48 (Maria Theresa) and Schubert’s Fourth Symphony (Tragic), as well as concertos by Michael Haydn and Telemann with Principal Trumpet Esteban Batallán in his CSO debut as soloist.

The CSOA celebrates significant composer milestones during the Orchestra’s 134th season: the 200th and 150th anniversaries of the births of Anton Bruckner and Maurice Ravel, respectively, and the 80th anniversary of the death of Béla Bartók. Guest conductor Marek Janowski leads Bruckner’s Third Symphony, and Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker perform Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 in Chicago as part of a 2024 North American tour on the Symphony Center Presents series. Concertmaster Robert Chen is the soloist for performances of Ravel’s Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra, conducted by Dame Jane Glover, and two weeks later, Gustavo Gimeno conducts both Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole and Suite No. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe. Bartók’s music is at the core of a two-week residency led by conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen that includes the virtuosic Concerto for Orchestra and a concert performance of his 1918 one-act opera, Bluebeard’s Castle.

Next season also offers multiple opportunities to hear Gustav Mahler’s compositions. Fabien Gabel conducts Songs of a Wayfarer with baritone Konstantin Krimmel in his CSO debut. Klaus Mäkelä leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, as well as contralto Wiebke Lehmkuhl and Uniting Voices Chicago, in Mahler’s Third Symphony. Jaap van Zweden, a frequent guest on the CSO podium, offers an exclusive preview of the CSO’s appearance as the only U.S. orchestra to perform at the 2025 Mahler Festival at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw with Mahler’s symphonies Nos. 6 and 7.

The Joffrey Ballet and CSO join forces again next season in April for an exciting collaboration that will include the world premieres of two new ballets..

Todd Rosenberg Photography

The Joffrey Ballet and CSO join forces again next season for an exciting collaboration on the Armour Stage. For these performances, Harry Bicket conducts Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 (Farewell) and the CSO’s first performances of Symphony No. 1 of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, on a program that also features newly commissioned ballets by choreographers Amy Hall Garner and Nicolas Blanc set to the music of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Darius Milhaud.

In addition to the newly commissioned ballets, the CSO-commissioned concerto Indigo Heaven, written by American composer Christopher Theofanidis for Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson, receives its world premiere, as will Osvaldo Golijov’s Megalopolis Suite. Other CSO first performances of note are Florence Price’s previously lost Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Randall Goosby in his CSO debut and a recent work for organ and orchestra by Esa-Pekka Salonen with the composer conducting and organist Iveta Apkalna — one of two organists for whom the work was written — making her CSO debut. Ravinia Festival Chief Conductor Marin Alsop also leads the first CSO performances of James Lee III’s Chuphshah! Harriet’s Drive to Canaan, inspired by the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, in October.

Internationally renowned pianist Daniil Trifonov has been announced as CSO Artist-in-Residence for the 2024/25 Season.

Internationally renowned pianist Daniil Trifonov has been announced as CSO Artist-in-Residence for the 2024/25 Season. His activities include three appearances: in November on the Symphony Center Presents Piano series, in recital with violinist Leonidas Kavakos on a Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music concert in March 2025 and as soloist in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the CSO conducted by Klaus Mäkelä in May 2025. As part of his Chicago residencies, Trifonov also leads master classes and participates in engagement activities with CSO affiliate and volunteer groups.

Special events include the annual Symphony Ball concert on September 21, which welcomes international piano star Lang Lang as soloist in a program conducted by Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and an evening with John Williams as he conducts his own Violin Concerto No. 2 commissioned and performed by Anne-Sophie Mutter. The concert on October 22 also features selections from some of Williams’s best-known film scores.

In addition to the aforementioned performances of Mahler’s Third Symphony and Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, the Chicago Symphony Chorus performs Mozart’s Mass in C Major (Coronation), conducted by Nicholas Kraemer, and Haydn’s Mass in Time of War with Manfred Honeck. The Chorus is also featured in the annual holiday program Merry, Merry Chicago!

Jordi Savall and his instrumental and vocal ensembles, Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial da Catalunya, return to Symphony Center to perform a radiant program entitled Monteverdi: A Baroque Revolution, The Tears and the Fire of the Muses.

Symphony Center Presents

Building on years of presenting exceptional performances by visiting ensembles and the world’s most renowned artists in solo and chamber music recitals, Symphony Center Presents continues its tradition of inviting audiences to experience extraordinary musical artistry in a must-see lineup of concerts for the coming season.

The SCP Chamber Music series opens with Jordi Savall and his instrumental and vocal ensembles, Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial da Catalunya, to perform a radiant program entitled Monteverdi: A Baroque Revolution The Tears and the Fire of the Muses. New CSO Artist-in-Residence Daniil Trifonov and violinist Leonidas Kavakos collaborate for a recital of sonatas by Beethoven, Poulenc, and Brahms, as well as the Rhapsody no. 1 of Bartók. Violinist Julia Fischer and pianist Jan Lisiecki perform a recital of works by Mozart, Schumann, and Beethoven in March. The series closes with a trio performance by cellist Pablo Ferrández, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and pianist Yefim Bronfman.

The SCP Piano series opens with Daniil Trifonov in recital, followed by distinguished returning artists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Emanuel Ax, Evgeny Kissin, Maria João Pires, and Víkingur Ólafsson. Debut performers include Alexandre Kantorow and Mao Fujita, both winners at the 2019 International Tchaikovsky Competition.

There are many other special performers returning to Symphony Center. Vocalist Lila Downs brings her Día de los Muertos program, celebrating Mexican traditions with music, dance, and colorful folklórico costumes in October. During December, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass, led by CSO Trombone Michael Mulcahy, is featured in its annual concert of selections for brass ensemble. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis makes its annual visit to Symphony Center for a two-day residency in January. The virtuosic Japanese taiko drumming ensemble Kodo performs in February, as does Pink Martini, with vocalist China Forbes, as part of its thirtieth-anniversary tour. Also in February, the eighteen-member Sphinx Virtuosi orchestra performs masterpieces by prominent Black and Latino composers in its Symphony Center debut. In April, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, as well as Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion, come to Symphony Center for concerts.

More Symphony Center Presents Jazz programs will be announced in April.