Riccardo Muti, CSO music director

CHICAGO—The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) announces that CSOA-presented 2020/21 season programs originally scheduled to take place beginning September 17 through December 23, 2020, have been canceled. Programs include Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Symphony Center Presents, MusicNOW and public programs of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO, including Civic Orchestra of Chicago concerts. The decision follows careful review of the rapidly evolving conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and is in accordance with the State of Illinois and City of Chicago’s multi-phase recovery plans, and in response to the current safety guidelines from public health officials. The CSOA continues to explore the possibility of rescheduling affected programs in the future and to develop ideas for presenting smaller-scale live and online performances this fall, with more information available in August. The CSOA will host its largest annual fundraising event, Symphony Ball, online, moving from the previously announced date of Saturday, October 3 to Saturday, October 24, with additional event information to be shared soon. 

“With the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions on public gatherings still in place and our ongoing priority to ensure the health and safety of our patrons, musicians and staff, we reached the conclusion that it was not possible to move forward with the programs we had originally planned for the fall,” said CSOA President Jeff Alexander. “As we look ahead and make plans for ensemble concerts for the fall, we are also eager for the day when Maestro Muti and the full orchestra can come together again to share music with local, national and international audiences. We are grateful to Maestro Muti, our Board of Trustees, Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Civic Orchestra of Chicago and our generous patrons and donors, and administrative staff members for their cooperation and creativity that provides the flexibility and financial stability to navigate this extraordinary time in the institution’s 130-year history.”

While live concert activities are interrupted, audiences can connect with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through the “CSO From Home” content portal atcso.org/fromhome to access a wide variety of content featuring performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and CSO musicians. This expanded content includes the new radio series—From the CSO’s Archives: Maestro’s Choice, presented in partnership with WFMT (Chicago’s Classical Music Station) and the Gems from the Vault programs featuring archival CSO radio broadcasts. Concert performances available on the CSO’s YouTube channel include the 2014 performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 featuring Music Director Riccardo Muti leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (prepared by Duain Wolfe) and distinguished soloists. This performance recently surpassed 22 million views on YouTube. In addition, a 2010 performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 conducted by former Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez is now available for on-demand streaming through August 21, 2020. The CSOA is presenting virtual recitals featuring CSO musicians throughout summer 2020. To receive updates about new content and special programs, visit cso.org to join the CSO’s email list.

Created in spring 2020 in response to the financial impacts of the pandemic and with generous support from leadership donors, the CSOA’s Music Ahead campaign reached $5.4 million in donations including nearly $1.3 million in gifts of donated tickets as of June 30, 2020. The Music Ahead campaign will continue into the 2020/21 season and will provide funds that support the CSOA and its commitment to sharing classical music with audiences in Chicago and worldwide. Gifts of donated tickets are welcomed as part of the ongoing Music Ahead campaign. More information is available at cso.org/musicahead.

Patrons holding tickets to canceled concerts will automatically have the value of their tickets placed on their account. Patrons have options that include keeping their ticket value on account for future purchases or converting the value into a tax-deductible contribution for the CSO’s Music Ahead fund. Patron Services representatives are available to review these and other options by web chat atcso.org or by calling 312-294-3000 (Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.) or by emailing patronservices@cso.org.

Additional information for CSOA patrons is available at cso.org/alert.

The CSO’s music director position is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation.