The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Returns preview- 3 Safe and Sound programs

11/23/20 9:52:36 PM Chicago Symphony Orchestra CSOtv CSO Sessions Episode 8 Screen Captures © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2020
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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) has announced the first Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) concert performances for reduced capacity audiences at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, Chicago, since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Three distinct programs, created with artistic guidance from Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti, will be presented May 27 through June 13 and feature music for brass and percussion, string ensembles and orchestra, led by conductors Michael Mulcahy, Erina Yashima and Edo de Waart, respectively. They will be presented on consecutive weekends with performances taking place Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 1:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

For the opening concert on May 27, the CSOA will welcome its first audiences back to Symphony Center after more than a year and host healthcare workers from Rush University System for Health, whose partnership during the pandemic has allowed CSO musicians to safely rehearse and perform a wide variety of digital programs created for CSOtv during the 2020/21 season.

CSO trombone Michael Mulcahy

Planned in accordance with current state and city COVID-19 guidelines for public events, the May and June concerts at Symphony Center will be presented in Orchestra Hall with safety measures in place to ensure a comfortable concert experience for all.

Due to current restrictions on audience capacities for performance venues, ticket availability is limited.


A thoughtful and thorough planning process led by the Operations and Patron Services teams at the CSOA in consultation with leading epidemiologist Dr. Emily Landon, and approved by the Chicago Department of Public Health, led to the creation of “Safe and Sound” safety measures adopted to safely welcome musicians, audiences and staff back to Symphony Center in spring 2021.

Safety measures require that patrons and staff wear face coverings and observe social- distancing guidelines when inside Symphony Center. Regular cleanings utilizing CDC-approved aerosol cleaning products will take place in Orchestra Hall and corresponding lobby spaces throughout the building prior to each performance, and new hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout Symphony Center. The Symphony Center HVAC system also meets the highest standards to ensure excellent filtration and fresh air circulation throughout the building.

Patrons will be able to utilize eTickets and touchless ticket scanners upon arrival at Symphony Center. Concessions will not be available and there will be no late seating and no intermission at performances. Patrons will also be asked to remain in their designated seating section and associated lobby spaces when attending CSO concerts. Each CSO concert in this set of spring 2021 performances will be approximately 60 minutes in length.

Assistant Conductor, Philadelphia Orchestra, Erina Yashima


  • Fanfare (May 27, 28, 29 & 30):

Music for brass and percussion heralds the return to live concerts at Symphony Center. Copland’s iconic Fanfare for the Common Man and Barber’s 20th-century interpretation of a Bach chorale are paired with works influenced by jazz and film by Tilson Thomas, Bernstein and Schuller in a program conducted by CSO trombone Michael Mulcahy.

  • Strum (June 3, 4, 5 & 6):

The CSO performs a diverse program of works led by former CSO Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprentice Erina Yashima. Opening with the Novelette in A Minor, Op. 52, No. 3 and Novelette in D Major, Op. 52, No. 4 by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the program continues with Schubert’s Symphony No. 5, and the string orchestra version of Strum by newly appointed CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery. The program concludes with Kodály’s colorful orchestral showpiece Dances of Galánta.

  • Overture (June 10, 11, 12 & 13):

Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni opens this program of works led by celebrated conductor Edo de Waart. Also featured are Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a work for small ensemble first performed as a birthday gift for his wife Cosima, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, which is filled with the composer’s signature energy and brilliance, bringing the CSO’s 2020/21 season to a fitting close.

Edo de Waart, Music Director Laureate, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Chief Conductor, Royal Flemish Philharmonic; Music Director, New Zealand Symphony; Artistic Partner, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; photo by Jesse Willems

Tickets for the CSO’s May and June 2021 concerts start at $29 and go on sale to the public at 10:00 a.m. CDT on May 11, 2021. In accordance with current health and safety guidelines, audience capacity is significantly reduced in each seating section at Symphony Center. Patrons may reserve up to four tickets per order for their party in their preferred seating section and will receive confirmation of their seat location and an assigned arrival time prior to their selected concert date.

Due to the limited number of seats available for these performances, patrons are strongly encouraged to order tickets early. CSOA Patron Services representatives are available to assist with ticket purchases by web chat at, by calling 312-294-3000 (Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.) or by emailing pa************@cs*.org.

In support of Chicago’s diverse and legendary music industry, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have designated 2021 as the “Year of Chicago Music.” The CSO’s spring 2021 concerts are part of this citywide focus on music that is one of the first of its kind in the U.S. Learn more at

More information about the new “Safe and Sound” safety measures at Symphony Center is available at

CSO concertmaster Robert Chen

All photos by Todd Rosenberg unless otherwise noted.


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