The Company of “The Magic Flute” (Credit Cory Weaver)

Hedy Weiss reviews the Lyric Opera production of “The Magic Flute,” a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert, and “Homecoming,” the latest entry in the CSO’s MusicNOW series.

Guest conductor Manfred Honeck and Denis Matsuev acknowledge the audience following a performance of Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Thursday evening’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra program opened with “Coincident Dances,” a fascinating 2017 work by Jessie Montgomery, the orchestra’s current Mead Composer-in-Residence. She never fails to enthrall with her rhythmically complex, richly orchestrated, highly original pieces.

A moment of silence is observed by James Conlon and the CSO musicians in recognition of the passing of Maestro Bernard Haitink, who died on October 21, 2021. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Thursday’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert began as guest conductor James Conlon turned to the audience and announced the news that Bernard Haitink, the world-renowned and much beloved conductor with strong ties to the CSO, had died earlier in the day at his home in London at the age of 92.

In this Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 file photo, Principal Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Bernard Haitink conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Brahms Symphony No. One in Boston. (AP Photo / Steven Senne, File)

Bernard Haitink, a Dutch conductor of refinement and grace who led the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for 27 years and held leadership positions in London, Chicago and Boston, died at his home in London on Thursday, his management agency announced. He was 92.

Jessie Montgomery, the CSO’s Mead Composer-in-Residence. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

On the heels of the recent triumphant return to live concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has announced its extensive programming plans for the remainder of the 2021 season and the first half of the 2022 season.

Music Director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) as part of Muti’s final program in his fall 2021 residency. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Maestro Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the third program of his fall residency with an intriguing juxtaposition of three works: Missy Mazzoli’s 2006 “These Worlds in Us”; Russian composer Anatoly Liadov’s 1908 tone poem, “The Enchanted Lake”; and finally, Tchaikovsky’s indisputable 1893 masterpiece, “Symphony No. 6 in B Minor (Pathetique).”

Violinist Leonidas Kavakos acknowledges the audience following his performance with Riccardo Muti and the CSO, September 30, 2021. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Leonidas Kavakos — the Greek-born violinist who thrilled audiences with his performance of Beethoven’s 1806 “Violin Concerto in D Major” two years ago — returned to the stage with a galvanic rendering of Brahms’ 1878 “Violin Concerto in D Major,” leaving the packed house in a state of contained awe between movements.

Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony in their first concert together since February 2020 to open the CSO’s 131st season, Sept. 23, 2021. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

It was a great spirit-raising moment of rebirth, celebration and pure musical enchantment Thursday night as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra along with an ebullient Maestro Riccardo Muti and a large, exuberant audience were all reunited in Orchestra Hall for the first time in 19 months. 

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)

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced he has extended his contract as music director by one year through the 2022-23 season. The 80-year-old Italian became music director of the CSO in 2010, succeeding Daniel Barenboim.

Sheléa performs at “Unboxing Bernstein: A Live Revue” at the Ravinia Festival on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021. (Courtesy of the Ravinia Festival)

“Unboxing Bernstein: A Live Revue” served as a stirring reminder of Leonard Bernstein’s genius for mixing and matching musical genres. 

Rachel Barton Pine performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Friday, July 16, 2021. (Courtesy of the Ravinia Festival)

It was quite a weekend at the Ravinia Festival. On Friday evening virtuoso violinist Rachel Barton Pine filled in for the indisposed Midori with just a few hours of advance notice, and aced Prokofiev’s fiendishly difficult “Violin Concerto No. 1.”

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti on the podium during the CSO’s May 9, 2019 program of works by Mozart and Stravinsky. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

In addition to the series of Maestro Riccardo Muti’s concerts, the fall season will mark the arrival of violinist Hilary Hahn, visits by many guest conductors and artists, plus a vast and varied lineup under the Symphony Center Presents banner. Here’s what else to expect.

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti on the podium during the CSO’s May 9, 2019 program of works by Mozart and Stravinsky. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Beginning in September, Maestro Riccardo Muti will lead the orchestra he has not seen since February 2020 in a three-week residency marking the official opening of the 2021-22 season in Orchestra Hall and the return of (hopefully full) live audiences.

Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra onstage in Orchestra Hall, June 10, 2021 (Credit Anne Ryan)

“Overture,” the final entry in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s springtime series of three different programs was performed live in Orchestra Hall on Thursday.  Remaining performances are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. 

Erina Yashima, former CSO Solti Conducting Apprentice, joins the CSO for the opening performance of the program entitled "Strum," June 3, 2021. (Credit Anne Ryan)

It was a magical evening at Symphony Center Thursday as a meticulously spaced and masked audience gathered for “Strum,” the aptly titled second of three different programs of springtime concerts from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

A socially distanced, reduced-capacity audience listens to the sounds of the CSO brass at the concert that signaled the return of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts, May 27, 2021. (Credit Anne Ryan)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra walked onstage to perform their first concert before a live audience in more than 14 months, Thursday evening.