It has been 1 year and 7 months, to the day, that Maestro Muti last conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its home of Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, marking the longest period that he’s been away from the orchestra since his tenure as music director began in 2010. Of course, this is all because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which essentially wreaked havoc on the entirety of the arts and culture sector throughout the entire world. So, how entirely appropriate it was that this joyous reunion, one between both a great conductor and great orchestra, featured the performance of a…


Credit: cso.org

Well, that was quick! Less than a week after the final program of the CSO’s abridged 2020–2021 season concluded, the CSO released a sneak peek preview of the upcoming 2021–2022 season, which will herald the return of Maestro Muti back to the podium in Orchestra Hall! Some highlights to note:

First, and foremost, the finale of the season (~June 2022) will feature Maestro Muti leading an opera of Verdi’s in concert format, and that opera is Un Ballo in Maschera (otherwise known as “A Masked Ball”)! So many fantastic moments in that opera, whether it’s the famous love duet between…


How apropos that the final concert of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s COVID-disrupted, shortened 2020–2021 season, which took place last night-right before the city of Chicago entered Phase 5 (a full reopening of the city)-was entitled “Overture”. And indeed, this concert essentially represents the overture that signals the start of life returning back to normal here in the city, something we’ve all been patiently waiting for!

Conductor Edo de Waart was on the podium to lead the CSO in a splendid program of Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, and Mozart’s Symphony №40. The concert may have lasted only…


The moment has finally arrived…live concerts (in the concert hall!) are back in Chicago! Since the start of the pandemic shutdown in March 2020, 14 months have passed in Chicago without any type of indoor live concerts. With the vaccine rollout and larger swathes of the population getting vaccinated (although there are still a lot of people who have yet to receive their shot…), COVID cases/hospitalizations/deaths in the city have gone down dramatically. With all of this progress, restrictions are beginning to be lifted, and thus came the announcement from the Chicago Symphony that there would be 3 weeks of…


It’s hard to believe, but the last time Maestro Muti led an open rehearsal with Chicago student musicians was all the way back in September of 2019, almost two years ago! Since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year in March, things have pretty much been on pause for us here in Chicago, and so you can imagine what an incredibly welcome and fulfilling experience it was to return back to these open rehearsals (even if it was only through Zoom). As I’ve said countless of times before on this blog, these rehearsals are the most meaningful and insightful components of…


Hi y’all! I know I said I’d write a post right after New Year’s but got caught up in a lot of school work, so haven’t had the chance to sit down and write. But, I first want to share some SUPER GREAT news as of yesterday, which you can find here and here. Basically, cause of COVID-19 and all the sucky cancellations it’s forced upon the CSO, Maestro Muti will be extending his contract as the CSO’s music director till the 2023–2024 season!!! In other words…YASSS!!! I’m sure an official announcement is impending, but I had a pretty good…


Hello everyone — haven’t posted here in a while, but with the continued closure of live music and performance venues around the US, including (sadly) here in Chicago, I just felt like there really wasn’t much to update. With the conclusion of 2020 upon us, I still thought it would be useful to continue my annual “Counting Down” posts ( 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015), although this year features a lot less content than usual 😦 .

5. Blomstedt conducts Mozart Piano Concerto 23 and Brahms 2. Herbert Blomstedt is one of my favorite conductors today, and it’s always a…


After last year’s CSO strike in the spring, just around this time of year actually, I honestly didn’t think we’d have to worry about concert cancellations for a really long time. Little did I know that that reality would quickly be shattered, with the coming of the coronavirus pandemic, which has effectively shut down most of the modern world. All large gatherings have been banned, and as a result, there have been many casualties in the classical music world. …


Finding some time to catch up on the blog posts, and I thought I’d provide an update on the most recent set of concerts that I got the chance to attend in early March, before the whole Illinois shelter-in-place order was put into place.

First things first, on the first day of March, the Civic Centennial concert took place, with the special soloist of Yo-Yo Ma playing the ever-so-brilliant Dvorak Cello Concerto, which is (in my humble opinion) the greatest piece ever written for the cello. Originally, this concert was to have taken place last spring 2019, with Esa-Pekka Salonen…


Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog (sorry about that!). I, like millions worldwide, have been making the adjustments to working at home, now that school has pretty much all but completely shut down, and so I was kind of occupied these past couple of weeks. However, I did want to give a quick recap of the last program of Maestro Muti’s 3 week residency in February, which is a nice throwback to happier times. …

Claire Liu

PhD student at Northwestern working on bio-integrated devices for health applications. Also interested in 19th century Italian opera musicology.

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