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Assistant Concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The doors of Chicago’s Symphony Center may be closed to its audiences until the pandemic has been conquered. But its stage is still very much alive.

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CSO Flute and Piccolo Jennifer Gunn. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s newly devised CSO Sessions programming provides ample proof that “adversity is the mother of invention.” And its initial series of five on-demand, beautifully filmed video recordings is a sheer delight.

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The CSO’s Lincoln Quartet composed of violinists Qing and Lei Hou, Lawrence Neuman on the viola and cellist Kenneth Olsen perform in a virtual recital in August. (Clay Baker / Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

For now, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be focused on intimate, virtual experiences for its fall 2020 season, which includes the launch of a new digital series of performances. 

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In this Jan. 1, 2018 file photo, Italian Maestro Riccardo Muti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra during the traditional New Year’s concert at the golden hall of Vienna’s Musikverein, Austria. (AP Photo / Ronald Zak, File)

Nine musicians from the Syrian diaspora in Europe are playing Sunday in the 24th friendship concert conducted by Riccardo Muti, this year at the Paestum archaeological site in southern Italy.

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Dan Burton in “42nd Street.” (Credit: Théâtre du Châtelet / Marie-Noëlle Robert)

Lyric’s canceled productions of “42nd Street” and “Blue” are now slated to run in 2022 and 2021, respectively. Meanwhile, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is partnering with WFMT on a series beginning next week.

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Pianist Daniil Trifonov (Credit: Dario Acosta)

Many of the concerts at Symphony Center are one-time-only events for which Orchestra Hall’s 2,500 seats are nearly sold out. But attention must be paid to the hours of remarkable music-making brought to the stage. Here are a few recent cases in point.

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A rehearsal of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. (WTTW News)

Chicago is home to the only training orchestra in North America. And while it’s blooming with youth, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago is turning 100 this season. We sit in on a rehearsal to hear the dynamic sound that only an orchestra can make.

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program featuring Beethoven’s Second and Fifth Symphonies on Feb. 20, 2020. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

What Maestro Riccardo Muti and the orchestra have made continually clear throughout this year of celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth is how thrillingly modern the composer’s work can feel. 

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Mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, center, performs the role of Santuzza in “Cavalleria rusticana,” conducted by music director Riccardo Muti, right, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Symphony Center on Feb. 6, 2020. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The true magnificence of Mascagni’s 1890 opera – now focused entirely on the beauty of the music and the truthfulness of the singers, and stripped of the distractions of scenery, melodramatic acting and all the rest – was a great revelation.

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Marin Alsop (Credit: Patrick Gibson)

Ravinia Festival just announced a major new hire, and she comes with an amazing pedigree: conductor Marin Alsop was mentored by Leonard Bernstein. 

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Pianist Paul Lewis performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a program that also featured Lewis as soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Fresh off a grueling but much heralded European tour, the CSO has returned to the Symphony Center stage with Sir Andrew Davis.

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Edo de Waart and Leila Josefowicz (Credit, from left: Edo de Waart, Chris Lee)

Talk about ending the year with a bang. Just a few weeks before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is to embark on a whirlwind tour of Europe, the orchestra, under the direction of guest conductor Edo de Waart, is performing an altogether thrilling program.

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For the fifth year, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra presents “Merry, Merry Chicago!” a celebration of holiday music that features members of the orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus.

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What happens when a conductor steeped in the Italian tradition takes hold of three works by quite different 19th century German Romantic composers? The answer could be heard as Maestro Riccardo Muti led the CSO in works by Wagner, Brahms and Schumann.

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti performs with violin soloist Leonidas Kavakos. ©2019 Anne Ryan

Together with the brilliant musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Riccardo Muti and violinist Leonidas Kavakos launched into an absolutely spellbinding performance of Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto in D Major.”

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Pianist Sunwook Kim plays Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in his CSO debut at Symphony Center on Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo by Anne Ryan)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was at its rip-roaring best Friday as award-winning pianist Sunwook Kim made a simply smashing debut with the orchestra. 

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