JANUARY 19-FEBRUARY 4, 2019
Tour Stops in Five Cities Include Return Appearances for Muti and the CSO at Venues in Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing, a Multi-Day Residency in Tokyo and their first appearance together in Osaka, Japan
Tour Programs Include Symphonies by Brahms and Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade
Muti Leads CSO in Two Performances of Verdi’s Requiem in Tokyo with Tokyo Opera Singers Chorus and an All-Star Vocal Quartet featuring Vittoria Yeo, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli and Dmitry Belosselskiy
Master Classes and Community Activities Presented by the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO Planned in Select Tour Cities
CHICAGO—Music Director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) embark on their second tour of Asia together in January and February 2019, marking the Orchestra’s ninth tour to Asia and the 61st international tour in its distinguished history. The tour takes place during the Orchestra’s 128th season in 2018/19 and includes 11 concerts from January 19 to February 4, 2019 with stops in five cities—Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Osaka.
Muti and the CSO return to several venues for the upcoming tour including the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan on January 19 and 20; the Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai for performances on January 22 and 23; and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing for performances on January 25 and 26. For this tour, Muti and the CSO also return to Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan to perform three distinct programs across four concerts on January 30 & 31 and February 2 & 3. As part of this multi-day residency in Tokyo, Muti leads the CSO in performances of Verdi’s Requiem on January 31 and February 2 with an all-star vocal quartet featuring soprano Vittoria Yeo, mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona, tenor Francesco Meli, bass Dmitry Belosselskiy and the Tokyo Opera Singers Chorus. Muti and the CSO complete the tour with a February 4 performance in Osaka, marking the debut appearance for Muti and the CSO together at the city’s Festival Hall and the Orchestra’s first performance at the venue since 2003.
The three programs for the Asia Tour 2019 feature a diverse set of works including symphonies of Brahms and Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral showpiece Sheherazade, as well as Verdi’s Requiem.
Each of the stops on the Asia Tour feature Muti leading the CSO in a program that includes Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 2. The symphonies were performed as part of Muti and the Orchestra’s May 2017 subscription concerts featuring the complete Brahms symphonies (Nos. 1-4) in Chicago at Symphony Center. Their account of Brahms’s Second Symphony at Symphony Center was praised by the Chicago Tribune as a “spacious, imposing, deeply considered performance” and was later performed to critical acclaim as part of Muti and the Orchestra’s domestic tours to the West and East coasts in the 2017/18 season. After the performance by Muti and the CSO in Berkeley, California, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that “the orchestra’s expansive and keenly colored sonorities remain as impressive as ever, from the dark-hued, weighty string sections to the clarion freshness of the brass.”
A program pairing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade is performed at the tour stops in Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo. Muti and the Orchestra performed a survey of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies during the 2014/15 season and return to the composer’s dramatic Symphony No. 5 for the Asia tour programs. The Chicago Tribune hailed their performance of the Fifth Symphony saying “the qualities that have marked his [Muti’s] cycle all along were again in evidence: scrupulous attention to dynamic markings, elastic handling of phrasing and transitions, purposeful shaping of harmonic tension and release, a richly sonorous soundstage.” Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony is followed on the program by Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral showpiece Sheherazade. Loosely based on the tales of The Arabian Nights, this work of great imagination highlights the composer’s gift as a master orchestrator and musical painter whose palette contained endless colors. Performed most recently by Muti and the Orchestra in Chicago during the opening subscription concerts of the season in September 2018, it caused the Chicago Tribune to remark “No doubt listeners will hear Sheherazade many times again, but rarely with as much integrity and truth.”
The third tour program on this year’s Asia Tour is part of the multi-day residency in Tokyo. Here, Muti leads the CSO in two performances of Verdi’s Requiem, which Muti and the CSO performed with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and a distinguished roster of vocalists during Muti’s November 2018 CSO residency in Chicago. The work remains one of Verdi’s best-known and widely performed works. Though its form and text adhere to a traditional liturgy, the Requiem demonstrates the composer’s unrivaled use of musical drama and masterful vocal writing. The Chicago Tribune praised the performance noting that “a vast range of human emotion radiated from the CSO music director’s reading” and the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore called it “profoundly moving.”
The performances of Verdi’s Requiem in Tokyo feature an all-star roster of vocal soloists including soprano Vittoria Yeo, who made her CSO debut singing Verdi’s Requiem with Muti and the CSO at Symphony Center in November 2018; mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona, who appeared with Muti and the CSO for both the November 2018 and October 2013 performances of Verdi’s Requiem at Symphony Center; tenor Francesco Meli, who made his CSO subscription concert debut with Muti singing Verdi’s Macbeth in 2013 and sang in Verdi’s Aida under Muti at the 2017 Salzburg Festival; and bass Dmitry Belosselskiy, who appeared with Muti and the CSO in the November 2018 performance of Verdi’s Requiem at Symphony Center and made his CSO debut in 2013 as Banquo in Verdi’s Macbeth under Muti.
Muti, widely considered today’s preeminent interpreter of the music of Giuseppe Verdi, first performed Verdi’s Requiem with the CSO and Chorus at Symphony Center in January 2009, during his first concerts as the Orchestra’s music director designate. A live recording of the work from these performances was released in 2010 on the CSO Resound label, and was later awarded two Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance. Muti and the CSO and Chorus reprised the work on October 10, 2013, as part of a concert celebrating the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth that was streamed live online and reached audiences of more than 60,000 within days of the initial livestream webcast. Verdi’s Requiem has also been part of tour performances for Muti and the CSO, including performances at Vienna’s Musikverein in 2014.
Presented by the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO, a number of educational and engagement activities are planned during the Orchestra’s 2019 Asia Tour. Activities include master classes on January 23 at the Shanghai Conservatory with Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson and Assistant Principal Bassoon William Buchman; community performances on January 23 and 24 in Shanghai at a neighborhood senior center and the bi-lingual Little Bridge International School with CSO chamber ensembles; performances on January 29 in Tokyo at the Meguro Disability Center by three CSO musicians; and a community performance on January 31 at the Higashiyama Elementary School in Tokyo by a CSO chamber ensemble. The Negaunee Music Institute connects individuals and communities in Chicago and beyond to the extraordinary musical resources of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Under the visionary leadership of CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti and Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma, the Institute creates opportunities for people of all ages with diverse backgrounds to participate actively in the life of the Orchestra.
Since 2010, Muti has led seven international tours with the CSO including a 10-concert Asia tour in 2016 with sold-out performances in Taiwan, China, Japan and South Korea. Muti also led the CSO on a critically acclaimed 2017 European tour that featured a performance at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, representing the first performances in the state-of-the-art venue by a foreign orchestra during its grand opening week and concerts at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala marking Muti and the Orchestra’s first appearances at the venue together.
The 2017/18 season included two domestic tours for Muti and the CSO with critically acclaimed tours in October 2017 to Kansas City and the U.S. West Coast and in February 2018 to the East Coast. The West Coast tour included the Orchestra and Muti’s debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the East Coast tour featured the first appearance for Muti and the Orchestra together at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well as a return appearance at Carnegie Hall.
The CSO’s touring history in Asia dates back to June 1977, when the orchestra performed 14 concerts in venues including the Bunka Kaikan and NHK Hall in Tokyo and Festival Hall in Osaka. The CSO first performed in Hong Kong in April 1986 during their second tour to Asia, and made debuts at the Shanghai Grand Theatre in Shanghai and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in February 2009 during their sixth Asia tour. The CSO’s 2013 Asia tour – their seventh – featured debuts in Taiwan at the Chiang Kai-Shek National Concert Hall and in South Korea at the Seoul Arts Center.
Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been touring—domestically and internationally—since the beginning of its history. First traveling to Canada in 1892, the Orchestra has since embarked on 60 international tours, performing in 29 countries on five continents.