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This past weekend saw the last Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts to be conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti until November, and they should not go without notice for several reasons.

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Russian Bass Alexey Tikhomirov makes his CSO debut in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (“Babi Yar”) with the Orchestra and Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus led by Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Music is not apolitical. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s season opening concerts take note of this, with impassioned comments made by Maestro Riccardo Muti.

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti joins Hedy Weiss in conversation.

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Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Rossini’s “Stabat mater” featuring soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova, tenor Dmitry Korchak and bass-baritone Eric Owens. (© Todd Rosenberg)

Just as many Italian Renaissance paintings of the crucifixion possess a breathtaking beauty that defies the brutality of the event, this music continually captures a vivid sense of transcendence.

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Yo-Yo Ma is soloist with Music Director Riccardo Muti and the CSO in Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The often stormy and repressive nature of life in the Soviet Union clearly infused the music of Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich.

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Gregory Porter performs selections from his latest Blue Note album, “Nat King Cole and Me,” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on June 11, 2018. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Although I don’t ordinarily write about fundraisers, the 29th annual Corporate Night concert at Symphony Center on Monday was so beguiling that it deserves attention.

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Esa-Pekka Salonen, 2015 (Credit: Nicolas Brodard)

Here is the formula for an astonishing evening of music: Take Bela Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and put it in the astonishing hands of pianist Mitsuko Uchida, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

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Conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 on May 17, 2018. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Although everything they touch turns to gold these days, nothing quite reveals the brilliance of the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra quite like the challenge of a Mahler masterwork. 

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The beautifully thought-out program serves as a subtle but revealing portrait of the deep but varied influences that have taken root in this country.

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Guest conductor Matthias Pintscher leads the CSO in Ravel’s orchestration of Debussy’s “Saraband and Danse.” (Photo © Todd Rosenberg)

The concert now being performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus – with the German conductor-composer Matthias Pintscher in flawless command – is sure to serve as a vivid reminder that Maurice Ravel’s genius was far more complex than “Bolero.”

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From left: Soprano Amanda Forsythe and tenors Paul Appleby and Nicholas Phan are soloists in Schubert’s “Mass in E-flat Major” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The human voice is a remarkable instrument. And when the 115 heavenly souls of the Chicago Symphony Chorus gather on stage with the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, something extraordinary happens.

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Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO in Mozart’s “Symphony No. 36” on March 15, 2018. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

A memorable moment from the film version of Peter Shaffer’s play, “Amadeus,” came rushing back to mind as I listened to this weekend’s glorious, spirit-altering concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which opened with Haydn’s “Symphony No. 89” and was followed by two works by his younger contemporary, Mozart.

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James Levine in 2013 (Ralph Daily / Flickr)

An extensive investigation found evidence the revered conductor, who was for years associated with the Ravinia Festival and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, committed sexual abuse and harassment, the New York Times reports.

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Anne-Sophie Mutter (Credit: Bastian Achard)

The world-renowned violinist joins us in conversation and performance.

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An event combining rousing orchestral music with high-definition NASA footage of the cosmos is coming to Ravinia Festival in Highland Park this week.

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Lila Downs is an innovative singer with roots in both Minnesota and Oaxaca, Mexico. She studied voice and anthropology in college and marries the two interests in her culturally inspired musical pursuits. 

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