Here is my Thursday October 15 Chicago Sun-Times story on the artistic initiatives announced on Wednesday October 14, 2009, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its music director designate Riccardo Muti.
The torch is passed . . . to a new generation of CSO composers in residence: Mason Bates and Anna Clyne
Muti making plans well before era at CSO starts
Work with juvenile offenders and Chicago youth at risk, a Solti conducting apprenticeship, and Mason Bates and Anna Clyne as new Mead composers-in-residence starting in 2010-2011
The Riccardo Muti era won't begin at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra until September 2010. And we won't have a clear idea of the next music director's programming, repertoire, and guest artist and conductor ideas until February, when the lineup for next season will be announced. But the CSO used the annual meeting of its parent organization and Muti's arrival in town to conduct two weeks of subscription concerts this month to announce several artistic initiatives, two of which, at least, clearly come from Muti himself. Muti also used his time on the Orchestra Hall stage Wednesday to speak with passion and humor -- and without notes -- about the central place that music plays in his own life.
Since his hiring was announced last year, the Italian maestro has expressed his desire to take the CSO to an actual prison and bring music to the incarcerated. After much trans-Atlantic discussion, the CSO announced Wednesday an even more complex project, though one filled with great potential: working with juvenile offenders and youth at risk in and around Chicago.
"Music can do something for these young people who have not had the privilege of being born as fortunate as some of us," Muti said Wednesday. "We can connect with those who have committed actions that we need not analyze, who have done things that are not necessarily their fault. We can help them to a better future."
CSO Association President Deborah F. Rutter explained that CSO staff is working with existing area programs and agencies that assist disenfranchised youth to develop options for engaging with the CSO.
Muti, too, has always believed that a conductor must be as at home in the opera house as in the concert hall and that the traditional training of future conductors as assistants to seasoned opera leaders, working directly with singers, is being lost.
That belief is part of the impetus for another initiative: the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition and Apprenticeship, which honors the CSO's legendary music director (1969-1991) and which will begin with the 2010-11 season. Joined by Lady Valerie Solti on the stage, Muti and Rutter announced the program and said more details will be released early next year. Through this apprenticeship, a gifted young conductor will be selected to work with Muti and other conductors at the CSO for a year with a focus that will include opera preparation and coaching singers from the piano.
Muti and Rutter also unveiled the CSO's next two Mead composers-in-residence, Mason Bates, 32, and Anna Clyne, 29, both very much of a new generation of composers who move happily among acoustic music and electronica, pop influences and their rigorous classical training. The British-born, Brooklyn-based Clyne plans to move to Chicago for the term of her 2010-2012 appointment. Bates, from Richmond, Virginia, who has appeared in Chicago as both a composer and a DJ, plans to spend a good deal of time here as well but faces "the reality of having a house, a wife, and a baby" in Oakland, California.
Additionally, Muti and Rutter previewed performances that will celebrate two hemispheric milestones in 2010: the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. The performances reflect Muti's vision of expanding the CSO's reach into local communities. The programs, which will salute the culture and history of Mexican-Americans, will be offered at several venues from September through November 2010.