28-Year-Old Finnish Conductor Klaus Mäkelä Chosen as New Music Director of Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Klaus Makela performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on April 14, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg photography)Conductor Klaus Makela performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on April 14, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg photography)

Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä, 28, will be the next music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and will start his new role in 2027, the CSO announced Tuesday morning.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

“I am honored to have been chosen as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and inspired to embark on this journey with an orchestra that combines such brilliance, power and passion,” Mäkelä said in a news release.

Mäkelä has been called “perhaps the fastest-rising conductor of his generation” by the New York Times. He will be the 11th music director in the ensemble’s 133-year history.

In 2020, Mäkelä launched his tenure as chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic and then as the music director of Orchestre de Paris the following year.

In 2022, he was appointed as artistic partner of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, where he will start his role as chief conductor in 2027, coinciding with his position at CSO.

Mäkelä will be 31 when he starts his initial five-year tenure leading the CSO at the start of the 2027-28 season.

The search for CSO’s next music director began in 2019 and was guided by the members of a search committee that included six CSO musicians. During the process, the search committee watched Mäkelä conduct seven programs in five cities: New York, San Francisco, Oslo, and Tokyo, as well as Chicago, according to the release.

“From Klaus Mäkelä’s first moments on the podium, the musicians of the orchestra recognized that we were working with a conductor of extraordinary ability,” said CSO assistant principal bassoon and search committee member William Buchman.

“His natural leadership drew our immediate focus, and the clarity of his musical ideas made it feel effortless to perform at the high level for which we strive,” Buchman continued.

Mäkelä will be succeeding Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, 82, who began his tenure as CSO’s music director during the 2010-11 season. Last year, Muti was named the orchestra’s music director emeritus for life.

In an interview with WTTW News arts critic Hedy Weiss in 2022, Muti was asked how he wanted to be remembered.

“There are many possibilities — the possibility that they will forget me, the possibility that they will remember me in a bad way, and that they will remember me in a good way,” Muti said. “I don’t know. I have been in Chicago happy with my orchestra, not my property, but my musicians. I am a musician among them.”

Muti’s career included tenures with Italy’s Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.

From Thursday through Saturday, Mäkelä will be conducting at the CSO in a program combining the U.S. premiere of Sauli Zinovjev’s Batteria with Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony and First Cello Concerto, alongside Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta in her CSO debut.

Contact Eunice Alpasan: @eunicealpasan | 773-509-5362 | [email protected]


Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors