The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) is very pleased to announce that Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti’s contract has been extended through the 2022-23 season. Muti became the tenth music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in 2010. His tenure was scheduled to conclude at the end of the 2021-22 season, but in light of the many months of canceled performances since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Muti has agreed to the Association’s request to remain as music director through the 2022-23 season. During this period, he will maintain his current commitment to lead the orchestra in ten weeks of subscription and special concerts and community activities in Chicago, as well as four weeks of international and domestic touring activities. Highlights of Muti’s programs with the CSO in the 2022-23 season will include the world premiere of a CSO-commissioned work by Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery, June 2023 performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and a roster of distinguished international soloists, and a January 2023 Asia Tour to Taiwan, China and Japan.
CSOA Board Chair Helen Zell said:
“On behalf of the Association’s Board of Trustees, it gives me great pleasure to share this exciting news today. 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. 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.”
Muti responded with equal enthusiasm:
“I look forward to being in Chicago again with the musicians to bring music back into the city. 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.”
CSOA President Jeff Alexander also welcomed the news, saying:
“Maestro Muti’s relationship with the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has created an extraordinary artistic partnership. His performances with the CSO in Chicago, across the country and around the world, as well as his commitment to education and community engagement activities, have been deeply moving and meaningful, and we are delighted he has agreed to extend his music directorship for an additional season. The entire CSOA family expresses our sincere gratitude to Maestro Muti for his leadership and the gift of his continued connection to the Orchestra, the institution and our city.”
CSO horn James Smelser, Chairman of the Members’ Committee, agreed:
“Besides Maestro Muti’s wonderful return to Chicago, the first since February of 2020, there can be no greater joy than to share in this news. The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recognize this important step in the continuation of a significant musical collaboration that can be shared with audiences in Chicago and throughout the world. We are extremely proud to have Maestro Muti as our music director.”
Riccardo Muti’s Role as Music Director
As with his previous contracts, Muti’s role as music director includes a diverse set of responsibilities. In addition to conducting subscription concerts and tours, Muti works to maintain the ensemble’s exceptional roster of musicians, participating in auditions and the selection of new members for the orchestra. He has also continued the CSO’s distinguished legacy of recordings with releases on the CSO’s Resound recording label, and has participated in online digital projects including a YouTube release of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 that has surpassed 32 million views. Muti oversees the season programming process, which includes the selection or commissioning of new orchestral works, and regularly features works by the CSO’s Mead Composer-in-Residence, an artistic position Muti appoints; most recently he appointed Jessie Montgomery to a three-year term through June 2024. He is also involved in the creation of special artistic positions, such as the CSO’s new Artist-in-Residence role, currently held by internationally acclaimed violinist Hilary Hahn through 2023, as well as the Creative Consultant role that was held by celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma from 2010-2019. Muti’s commitment to the next generation of young musicians includes his establishment, at the beginning of his tenure, of the CSO’s respected Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprentice Program. Along with a distinguished jury, he most recently selected Lina Gonzalez-Granados to be the fourth Solti Conducting Apprentice, continuing in the role through 2022.
In support of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO, Muti will also continue to play an active role in several community and training programs. These include his annual free Concerts for Chicago; interactive recital programs with CSO and guest musicians at area juvenile justice facilities; CSO open rehearsals for seniors, veterans and school and community groups; and free, open rehearsals at Symphony Center during the annual Youth in Music Festival and with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the CSO’s prestigious training Orchestra.
Riccardo Muti and CSO Performance History
Riccardo Muti made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1973 at the Ravinia Festival. In 2007, after an absence of more than 34 years, he led the orchestra in a month-long residency of subscription concerts and a critically heralded European tour, including the CSO’s first appearances in Italy in more than 25 years. Muti’s appointment as the CSO’s tenth music director was announced in 2008. He appeared with the orchestra several times as music director designate beginning in January 2009 and officially stepped into his role as music director on September 19, 2010, leading the CSO in a concert which attracted 25,000 people to the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
Throughout his tenure as music director, Muti has been dedicated to creating deeper connections with the city and its residents through the transformative power of music. He has conducted the CSO in more than 450 critically acclaimed performances in Chicago—including the free Concerts for Chicago, a tradition he established as music director—across the United States, and in Europe, Russia and Asia. Recognized as today’s foremost interpreter of the music of Giuseppe Verdi, Muti has helmed the CSO in critically lauded performances of MacbethOtelloFalstaff and Aida, as well as Verdi’s Requiem, which was recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and received multiple Grammy awards. His commitment to new music has extended to world premiere performances—in Chicago and on tour—of works by Mead Composers-in-Residence Mason Bates, Anna Clyne, Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek. World premieres planned for 2022 include a new work by Missy Mazzoli, who completed her appointment as Mead Composer-in-Residence in June 2021, and a new work by Mazzoli’s successor in the role, Jessie Montgomery.
Since the start of the pandemic, Muti has provided artistic guidance for radio and online series accessible to local and global audiences. These include the “Maestro’s Choice” series on WFMT and the critically acclaimed “CSO Sessions” digital series, comprising newly recorded chamber music performances featuring CSO musicians, filmed in Orchestra Hall throughout the 2020-21 season and released on the new streaming portal CSOtv. With the opening performances of the CSO’s 131st season in September 2021, Muti begins his twelfth season as music director and reunites with the musicians for the first time since February 2020, when he conducted critically acclaimed performances of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.
The CSO’s music director position is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation.
Bank of America is the Maestro Residency Presenter of the CSO.