Riccardo Muti extends contract as CSO music director through 2023

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced Sept. 23 that the contract for Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti has been extended through the 2022-23 season. The announcement occurred at the dress rehearsal for the opening concerts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 131st season — a highly anticipated reunion for the ensemble and its music director after a year and a half since their last concerts together in Orchestra Hall.

The news was met with cheers and smiles. From the first notes of Beethoven’s triumphant Eroica Symphony, it is clear this partnership has not lost any of its luster, and that audiences have much to look forward to during the next two seasons.

Muti became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 10th music director in 2010. His tenure was scheduled to conclude after the 2021-22 season, but considering the many months of canceled performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Muti agreed to the Association’s request to remain as music director through 2022-23. “I am very proud of the musicians of this great orchestra and happy to stay as music director to continue our great artistic collaboration, and to work with our Trustees, volunteers and administration to keep music an important part of our community and a beacon of hope around the world,” Muti said.

During this period, Muti will maintain his current commitment to lead the Orchestra in 10 weeks of subscription and special concerts and community activities in Chicago, as well as four weeks of international and domestic touring activities.

“Maestro Muti’s relationship with the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has created an extraordinary artistic partnership,” said CSOA President Jeff Alexander.

Echoing those remarks, CSO horn James Smelser, chairman of the Members’ Committee, said, “The Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are extremely happy that Maestro Riccardo Muti will continue to be our music director. Since the beginning of his tenure in 2010, Maestro Muti has focused on working with the musicians to build a relationship that allows us to perform at the highest level. Having the opportunity to continue making music together with Maestro Muti and to share that with audiences at home, across the country in other corners of the globe is something that is truly special, and we are honored to continue this work with him.”

Highlights of Muti’s programs with the CSO next season will include the world premiere of a CSO-commissioned work by Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery and June 2023 performances of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and a roster of distinguished international soloists, as well as a January 2023 tour to Taiwan, China and Japan.

In addition to the Orchestra's sound, Muti’s tenure has been distinguished by his dedication to performing great works of the past and present, including 13 world premieres to date. Also notable have been the enthusiastic receptions he and the CSO have received on national and international tours, as well as his contributions to Chicago's cultural life, with performances throughout the city's neighborhoods and at Orchestra Hall.

“The unique artistry of Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is recognized as something truly exceptional not only in Chicago but also around the world,” said Helen Zell, CSOA board chair. “After such a challenging time without the opportunity to connect to the joy of live music, we are grateful that Maestro Muti has accepted our invitation to stay with us to make music that lifts our spirits and inspires us.”

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