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CSO’s 2024-25 season and new guest artist program


The Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday announced its 2024-25 season and a new guest artist: Russian pianist and composer Daniil Trifonov, who replaced violinist Hilary Hahn in the role.

Like Hahn before him, Trifonov’s appointment includes not only regular subscription and recital dates, but also masterclasses and engagement events to be announced.

Trifonov, 32, begins his mission by researching the solo piano works of Tchaikovsky and Chopin (concert november 17) and violin sonata repertoire with Leonidas Kavakos (March 9, 2025). Later, Trifonov collaborates with Finnish phenomenon Klaus Mäkelä on Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 (1-4 May 2025).

There is no official statement in the season announcement about the CSO’s next music director or the next composer-in-residence—this announcement is always made separately, with appropriate fanfare—or about the next composer-in-residence. Instead, the MusicNOW series’ programming will be spearheaded by two composer/curators to be announced in the spring, though without the mainstage commission expectations of the resident composer position. Current composer Jessie Montgomery will remain connected to the NGO through her work with the CSO’s Young Composers Initiative, which she helped create in 2022.

As for new works, we will feel the absence of the guest composer acutely in the coming season. Without the NGO commissions that accompany this role, next year’s subscription lineup totals down to just two world premieres, one of which has only been postponed from last season: Christopher Theofanidis’ “Indigo Heaven” (6-8 March 2025) featuring principal clarinetist Stephen Williamson). The other is included in one of four programs directed by retired music director Riccardo Muti: a suite ranging from scores by onetime composer-in-residence Osvaldo Golijov to the upcoming science fiction film “Megalopolis,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola.8-9 November).

In a sign of changing winds at the Symphony Center, Muti is not starting the 2024-25 season. This honor is given to Andrés Orozco-Estrada in the opening programs featuring guest artist Hahn (19-20 September) and pianist Lang Lang (Symphony Ball, September 21).

The former NGO captain won’t be arriving until Halloween with an all-Beethoven show: “Eroica” also appears on Muti’s first post-COVID subscription show in autumn 2021and the “Emperor” concerto with pianist Mitsuko Uchida (October 31-November. 3).

However, Muti completes the 2024-25 season. Conducts lead trumpet Esteban Batallán in concertos by Telemann and Michael Haydn, Joseph’s younger brother (12-14 June 2025) and the orchestra and chorus in Berlioz’s epic “The Curse of Faust” (19-24 June 2025). Tenor John Osborn (Faust) and bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (Mephistopheles) make their CSO debut in this program, accompanied by mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa (Marguerite).

Next season, as last season, a handful of guest chefs will be parked here for two weeks. Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen is now expected to give concerts of this length: His first program includes his own Sinfonia concertante for organ and orchestra (Fireplace. 30-February. 4, 2025), the second is a concert version of Bartók’s “Bluebeard’s Castle” with bass-baritone Christian Van Horn and mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova (6-8 February 2025). Fellow Finn Mäkelä is also a member of the contralto Wiebke Lehmkuhl, Chicago Symphony Chorus and Uniting Voices Chicago (24-26 April 2025).

Other conductors with two subscription contracts include Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider (26-28 September and 27-29 March 2025), the debut album featuring violist Antoine Tamestit’s CSO debut in the Walton concerto and Jaap van Zweden, who also conducted local previews of the CSO’s Mahler Festival performances of the composer’s Symphonies No. 6 and 7 in Amsterdam (17-19 April 2025 and 8-9 May 2025).

Filed under “welcome returns”: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra passes with Bruckner 5 attached to that composer’s bicentennial (26 November). (Surprisingly, there are mostly crickets from our big Bruckner group: the 2024-25 season features only his 3rd Symphony under Marek Janowski. 14-16 November.) Jakub Hrůša, consistently among the CSO’s most impressive podium guests, teams up with pianist Simon Trpčeski for an event (20-22 March 2025). The NGO is also reviving its collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet, once again led by Harry Bicket (10-13 April 2025).

Emerging talents include 27-year-old violinist Randall Goosby, who makes his CSO debut with Sir Mark Elder in Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (5-7 June 2025) – also a first for the orchestra – and recital debutants Alexandre Kantorow (26) and Mao Fujita (25), both of whom won prizes at the 2019 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition (February 2, 2025 and March 16, 2025respectively).

CSO’s chamber music series is also full of familiar faces: Violist Jordi Savall and his ensembles La Capella Reial De Catalunya and Hespèrion XXI (8 October); violinist Julia Fischer and pianist Jan Lisiecki (30 March 2025); violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Yefim Bronfman, bringing with them cellist Pablo Ferrández (May 7, 2025); and pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet (January 19, 2025), Emanuel’s Axe (April 27, 2025), Evgeny Kiss (May 11, 2025), Maria João Pires (May 25, 2025) and Víkingur Ólafsson (June 8, 2025).

Other notable items:

  • John Williams, 92, conducts his own Violin Concerto No. 2 with Anne-Sophie Mutter in a one-off concert with selections from his own film scores (October 22).
  • Conductors from neighboring host Music of the Baroque stopped by for two programs: Nicholas Kraemer with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, mostly on the Handel program (17-19 October) and Dame Jane Glover in a very British program featuring CSO concertmaster Robert Chen in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” (20-22 February 2025).
  • Speaking of CSO musicians, principal cellist John Sharp takes a solo turn for “Don Quixote”; Directed by Sir Donald Runnicles (24-26 October).
  • Lahav Shani conducts and performs Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in the final subscription program of 2024 (19-21 December).
  • The Sphinx Virtuosos make their Symphony Center debut with an encore of former CSO resident composer Jessie Montgomery’s piano concerto “Rounds,” welcoming back the dedicated Awadagin Pratt (February 25, 2025).
  • The only conductor to make his debut this season: Santtu-Matias Rouvali is among the many Finns who are rapidly rising on the international stage (27 February-2 March 2025with pianist Seong-Jin Cho).
  • NGO performs Haydn’s first “War Rite” with Manfred Honeck, soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo Jennifer Johnson Cano, tenor Andrew Haji, baritone Joshua Hopkins and the Chicago Symphony Chorus (13-15 March 2025).

Of course, NGOs cannot control artists’ schedules. Even so, only two women are holding subscription concerts in the 2024-25 season: Marin Alsop in a program featuring pianist Lukáš Vondráček and American composer James Lee III’s “Chuphshah!” “Harriet’s Journey to Canaan” (10-11 October) and Karina Canellakis, ahead Sibelius, Dvořák and Rachmaninoff (3-5 April 2025).

As in previous years, MusicNOW programs and Symphony Center’s jazz series will be announced separately. As always, one thing is certain: Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (24-25 January 2025).

Hannah Edgar is a freelance critic.

The Rubin Institute of Music Criticism helps fund our classical music coverage. The Chicago Tribune retains editorial control over assignments and content.


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