CSO introduces new director

June 2, 2008 4:03:07 PM PDT
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra formally introduced world-renowned conductor Riccardo Muti Monday morning. Muti is known for his work as music director at the La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy. He has a five-year contract with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that begins in the 2010 season.

"Music is today the most important ambassador around the world," said Muti.

Muti has been a guest conductor at CSO before. He has turned down the job of the New York Philharmonic.

"That genuineness, that relationship that he establishes with people is what's so really terrific about him," said William Osborn, CSO Board chairman.

"We are hoping to have many years of terrific concerts ahead of us," said Steve Lester, CSO bassist

The conductor is not without detractors who see the 66-year-old as too conservative and too committed to his native Italy's operatic works. Cultural critic Andrew Patner said Muti will be true to the music- and he isn't known for playing to the crowd.

"No single conductor is perfect. No single conductor specializes in every thing. It is great to have a conductor who is a generalist and knows what he loves," said Patner, Classical music critic.

CSO leadership is drawn to Muti because he's willing to take part of a non-musical role and help out with fundraising and attracting benefactors.

"Our renewals for next year and our subscriptions are going very well," said CSO President Deborah Card.

Muti doesn't make promises about his success only a commitment to his effort to make classical music available to everyone.

"Music is the only element that can be the real ambassador of friendship between people," said Muti.


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