Thursday, February 25, 2010

CSO Press Conference

And we're done.

2:50 - One more question. Any particular series of recordings that Muti is most proud of? "My CDs? I don't like any of them." Likes live performances---this should go nicely with CSO Resound. Most proud of his La Scala Falstaff, also Scriabin, Beethoven, and Schumann symphonies, Nino Rota. Hopes to conduct Rota's music in one of the movie concerts. Or Eisenstein's film with Prokofiev's music.

2:40 - Final question: Will Muti take an assistant conductor on? Georg Solti competition may yield young conductors to work with Muti and the orchestra (international competition). Rutter asks about role of opera performance for an orchestra, why he's performing Otello. Muti: Great conductors of the past came from opera. Musicians can learn to play singing, imitate voices--opportunity for orchestra to grow. Hearing Otello in a concert form, without Regie ("which sometimes helps, most of the time destroys, the work of the conductor")...the concept that Toscanini and Mahler did. Muti begins explaining how dominant chords resolve to tonic chords, using the microphone stand to demonstrate. I think it's time to wrap things up. Wants to bring his experience of opera style to Chicago, but in the "most healthy and musical way," not strange ideas of singers. Hopefully this means he will continue to work with Philip Gossett, whom I believe resigned from the CSO Board when they refused to use his critical edition of the Verdi Requiem.

2:35 - How do you feel new program/director can get new people in the seats due to recession? Rutter: We ended last season strongly (financially), single tickets are up though subscriptions are down. 6% ahead for single ticket sales.

2:30 - Question about touring: trip to Carnegie, no European or overseas tours? Rutter "We will dedicate all of our time and energy to Chicago." International and national touring in 2011-12--possibly Moscow, St. Petersburg, Prague. Question about Civic Orchestra - how much time dedicated to younger musicians? Muti can't quantify how much time, but considers Civic important to Chicago musical life.

2:25 - Rutter opens up the floor for questions. Question raised about personnel issues, deterioration of major players aka Dale Clevenger, principal horn (alluded to but not mentioned by name)!! This is going to be awkward. Okay, this is awkward. Muti: "Give me a little bit of time. In life, love, music, things that are done abruptly are not done well."

2:20 - Muti talks about visiting a prison in Milan, in which the warden is making the prisons better through culture. "We have to do it here, too." Still speaking very vaguely about doing something for the world. We will have to wait and see? Finishes speaking to rousing applause.

2:15 - Waxes poetic about the Berlioz program. "This will be, for sure, a very moving night." "Makes an old piece sound new, with the original concept of the composer." Opening public to new experiences--Anna Clyne and Mason Bates are writing pieces which Muti will perform for orchestra with electronics. "Young generation is naturally open to everything that is electronic, this is a new way to bring young people to this new path." Really? Begins to talk a bit vaguely about humanitarian efforts/outreach. "In a world full of anger, violence, with many young children and young men and young girls commit crimes, that it's not their fault, but it's the society's fault, music can educate their souls. Music can make them better."

2:10 - Talks about pairing of Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique with the Lelio, which itself is a continuation of the Symphonie. To play the Symphonie on the second half a program, without the Lelio, is a mistake. Is this a dig at Gilbert's opening program, with the Symphonie in the second half (with Messiaen and Lindberg)? Muti continues punning, talking about Lelio. If this is his vision, it's nice, but very small-scale.

2:07 - Muti doesn't believe in themes (it's "extremely boring")--Mozart theme or Bruckner theme. I disagree, as long as the themes themselves aren't boring, the season isn't boring. What L.A. and NY are doing is thematic, but broadly intellectual rather than "Mozart birthday."
Muti wants to give "panoramic view" of history--Baroque thru classical, Romantic, modern. Is that any different from what the CSO has done in the past? Choice of Haydn/Mozart symphonies is important--G minor Haydn symphony is model for Mozart's G minor--they are being programmed together (this is smart).

2:00 - Muti sits down so TV can see him. Relationship with CSO grew during their tour, impressed by artistry and humanity of musicians. Press kit is now online to read materials for next season. Webcast here. Still discussing how he wanted to go into retirement, I'm afraid he's going to start quoting Lethal Weapon. "I'm basically a homesick man." ("I'm too old for this shit?"). Very long tangent to discuss artistic vision.

1:55 - Muti, the tenth music director of the CSO, takes the podium. Wearing a pretty baller sweater (sweater vest?) , blazer, red tie. Doesn't like to talk from the podium, it "looks like a priest." Compares watching Rutter speak to watching his own funeral, Tom Sawyer style. "You can have a beautiful evening in front of you reading all the details [in our brochure]." Raises the question of how you put season/vision together, cracks more jokes. Muti felt he was a 'free citizen' after La Scala, didn't have to do administrative stuff, when Rutter asked him to come conduct CSO. "I can assure you that--this is going to be the newspapers' headlines--I am like the best Italian wine, with age becomes better." He is cracking jokes right and left. "This is one of the most expensive is complete."

1:50 - Inaugural first month of September/October with Muti's residency. She speaks about guest artist series--Thomas Quasthoff bringing Liebeslieder project to Chicago; jazz and piano series. Mexico 2010, city-wide celebration commemorating Mexican anniversaries, celebrated at beginning of the season. Muti leading performances of Chavez and a premiere by Bernard Rands, Danza Petrificada

1:45 - Ma expresses excitement, love of Muti, not much specific. Browsed through the season calendar---compared to L.A. and New York, not particularly new music-y. I'll wait before making further judgments. Rutter describes what it's like to work with Muti. "His passion, his dedication, his fervent desire and belief of performing music at the very highest level. You couldn't ask for a better partner for the CSO." Apparently the first season to have an all-in-one brochure. "New chapter in the life/history of the CSO."

1:40 - Bank of America guy talking...more importantly, Boulez leading the Glagolitic Mass in December. Deborah Rutter takes stage to outline CSO programming. "As of today, the Muti era officially begins." Anna Clyne is in the house, one of the two new composers in residence, along with Mason Bates. The awesome Bernard Rands is here as well. Yo-Yo Ma, though, not present--sends a video greeting, Academy Awards-style.

1:35pm - In 2010, Bank of America will become the first global sponsor of the CSO. Looking at the press packet, the first concert is a free performance at Millennium Park September 19, with Verdi, Liszt, and Respighi. Continuing to look thru press packet, premiere of John Luther Adams' amazing Dark Waves in lat October (with Mahler and Shostakovich)!

1:30pm - Maestro Muti has entered the building, Bill Osborn (Chair of the Board) gives introductions (Muti just made his Met debut with Attila Met two nights ago). Apparently this is being live-streamed over the internet.

1:25pm - Connected to CSO network, with press conference about to begin in the Grainger Ballroom!


  1. Excellent report, Billy! Do recall though, that there are four full CSO MusicNOW programs, too, and if one is going to speak of the NY Phil's CONTACT! or Los Angeles's Green Umbrella series, etc., these should hardly be neglected. Preliminary details are in the kit and Anna and Mason also each have orchestral pieces on Muti CSO programs as well.

  2. this is soooo tight, billy r. too bad he didn't actually start quoting lethal weapon.