Symphony Center Holiday Programming Begins Thanksgiving Weekend

Quinteto Astor Piazzolla keeps the nuevo tango master’s legacy alive Photo: Mauricio Velez
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Holiday Programming at Symphony Center Begins Thanksgiving Weekend with Home Alone in Concert — November 26-28

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts Feature World Premieres by Magnus Lindberg and Gabriela Lena Frank, Solo Appearances by Violinist Ray Chen and CSO Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn and the Return of the
Chicago Symphony Chorus in Handel’s Messiah — December 2-19

Annual Bach Marathon Returns with Civic Orchestra of Chicago Performing J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos in Free Event on December 6

Special Concert Features Grammy Award-winning Vocal Group Chanticleer — December 7-8

Annual Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Concert Returns on December 15

Merry, Merry Chicago! Celebrates the Spirit of the Holidays in Program Featuring Broadway Star Jessica Vosk Singing Festive Songs of the Season — December 17-23

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The 2021-22 season continues with holiday and December programming presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) at Symphony Center and several offsite locations. The robust schedule of holiday programming begins Thanksgiving weekend with Home Alone in Concert, as conductor Richard Kaufman leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in John Williams’ Academy Award-nominated score while the beloved holiday film is shown on the big screen (November 26-28).

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs three distinct programs in December, beginning December 2-4 with Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu leading the world premiere of a CSO co-commissioned work, Serenades, by renowned Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg on a program that also features violinist

Ray Chen as soloist in Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. In concerts taking place December 9-11, newly appointed CSO Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn joins the Orchestra and conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada for performances of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto on a program that also includes the world premiere of Haillí-Serenata, a CSO-commissioned work by Gabriela Lena Frank, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. For the first time since February 2020, the Chicago Symphony Chorus returns to Orchestra Hall to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and distinguished soloists for performances of Handel’s Messiah, led by Baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan (December 16-19).

Holiday programming continues with the annual Bach Marathon on December 6. The day-long, free event takes place in neighborhoods across the city and features musicians from the Civic Orchestra of Chicago performing J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, including a finale performance at Fourth Presbyterian Church (126 E. Chestnut St., Chicago) prepared with artistic guidance from Civic Principal Conductor Ken-David Masur. On December 7-8, in performances at Fourth Presbyterian Church, the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Chanticleer returns to Chicago for its 2021 presentation of “A Chanticleer Christmas,” with a cappella arrangements of both classical and new holiday songs, including songs sung by candlelight to open the performance. The legendary Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass perform a program of symphonic works arranged for brass ensemble on December 15. Holiday programming at Symphony Center reaches a joyful high note as festive music of the season is performed by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Alastair Willis and featuring Broadway star Jessica Vosk in Merry, Merry Chicago! on December 17-23.

Holiday and December 2021 concerts at Symphony Center are presented without audience capacity restrictions and align with current public health guidelines and safety protocols. Ticket information is available at and additional patron information is available at

A chronological list of holiday and December 2021 concert programs is available here. Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts

Lindberg, Lalo & Brahms 4 (December 2-4)
Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu, chief conductor of the Finnish National Opera, returns to the podium to lead the world premiere of a CSO co-commissioned work, Serenades, by renowned Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg. Violinist Ray Chen, who made his critically acclaimed CSO subscription debut in 2019, returns to perform Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole with the Orchestra. Brahms’ Fourth Symphony completes the program.

Hilary Hahn, Dvořák Violin Concerto & Tchaikovsky 5 (December 9-11)
Violinist Hilary Hahn, the newly appointed CSO Artist-in Residence, is the featured soloist in performances of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, a work given its U.S. premiere by the Orchestra in 1891. Hahn joins the CSO and conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada, music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra for these performances. Completing the program is Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and the world premiere of Haillí-Serenata, a CSO-commissioned work by Gabriela Lena Frank, who explores her multicultural heritage (Peruvian/Chinese, Lithuanian/Jewish) through her music.

Joelle Harvey sings

Handel’s Messiah (December 16-19)
For the first time since February 2020, the Chicago Symphony Chorus returns to the stage of Orchestra Hall, joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and distinguished soloists for performances of Handel’s

landmark oratorio, Messiah, led by Baroque specialist and Music Director Laureate of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale Nicholas McGegan. The Chicago Symphony Chorus is prepared by Chorus Director Duain Wolfe. Featured soloists include soprano Yulia van Doren, countertenor Reginald Mobley, tenor Ben Bliss and bass-baritone Dashon Burton.

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago

Civic Orchestra of Chicago

Bach Marathon (December 6)

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago brings performances of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos to

communities across Chicago throughout the day as part of the seventh annual Bach Marathon. With artistic guidance from Principal Conductor Ken-David Masur, The Robert Kohl and Clark Pellett Principal Conductor Chair, the event’s finale performances of the six concertos take place at Fourth Presbyterian Church (126 E. Chestnut St., Chicago). Ticket availability may be limited for this event. Visit for more information

Holiday Programming

Home Alone in Concert (November 26-28)
The holiday season at Symphony Center begins Thanksgiving weekend with Home Alone in Concert. Audiences can enjoy the hilarious, heartwarming family favorite shown on the big screen at Symphony Center as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Kaufman, performs John Williams’ delightful, Academy Award-nominated score. Chicago actors Ann Whitney and Tracy J. Connor, who make memorable appearances in the film, will be on hand for preconcert conversations at each of the performances. The conversations are approximately 30 minutes and begin at 6:15 p.m. on November 26 and 27 and at 1:15 p.m. on November 28.

A Chanticleer Christmas (December 7-8)
“The world’s reigning male chorus” (The New Yorker), the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Chanticleer returns for its 2021 presentation of “A Chanticleer Christmas,” with a cappella arrangements of holiday music both familiar and new, performed at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass (December 15)
Experience the power and precision of the legendary brass section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program of symphonic works by Batallán, Brahms, Holst, Mahler, Mozart and Walton arranged for brass ensemble. This concert is presented in collaboration with the Midwest Clinic, an International Band and Orchestra Conference.

Merry, Merry Chicago! (December 17, 18, 21, 22 and 23)
Chicago’s favorite musical holiday celebration, Merry, Merry Chicago!, returns to Symphony Center under the baton of Grammy-nominated conductor Alastair Willis. Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra share music of the season in this program for the whole family — with a much-anticipated appearance by a certain gentleman in red. Festive musical selections include “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and more, along with orchestral music of the season including Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves and music from Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

Acclaimed Broadway star Jessica Vosk is the featured vocalist in this year’s Merry, Merry Chicago! program, coming to Chicago following her sold-out November 8 debut at Carnegie Hall in a solo show titled “My Golden Age.” Her Broadway credits include The Bridges of Madison County, Finding Neverland, Fiddler on the Roof, and most notably, her star turn as Elphaba in Wicked the musical both on tour and in the 15th Anniversary Broadway company. The recording of Vosk’s performance as Anita in West Side Story was also nominated for a Grammy. She made her solo debut on the Billboard charts in 2018 with her album Wild and Free and released a Christmas album in 2020 titled A Very Coco Christmas.

Guest artist Giancarlo Guerrero conducts the cso

Coming to CSOtv

Audiences in Chicago and worldwide can connect with the extraordinary artistry of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with free access to a wide variety of content available through the CSOtv video portal. Content includes the critically acclaimed CSO Sessions series, as well as the CSO for Kids and

Civic Orchestra of Chicago series, archival concert performances and more. In December, CSO Sessions Episode 24: Strauss and Mozart will premiere along with a new feature-length video on the history of the legendary Chicago Symphony Orchestra brass section hosted by CSO trumpet John Hagstrom. Visit for more information.

Patron Information | Safe and Sound at Symphony Center

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) is committed to creating a comfortable, enjoyable and safe environment for its musicians, patrons and staff. To ensure everyone’s visit to Symphony Center is safe and sound, the CSOA will continue to modify guidelines and the concert experience, based on the latest public health recommendations and in consultation with leading health experts.

Patrons will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test upon arrival at all performances. Options for proof of vaccination include presentation of a vaccination card or by the use of the mobile app My Bindle, which is accepted at Symphony Center and other Chicago-area performing arts venues. Alternatively, proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the performance date or antigen test within six hours of the performance must be shown upon arrival. Anyone currently unable to get a vaccination, including children under 12, is required to present proof of a negative test.

Since restrictions at Chicago-area concert venues eased in spring of 2021, Symphony Center has welcomed audiences for three weeks of Chicago Symphony Orchestra programs in May and June, as well as for many more Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Center Presents concerts since the beginning of the 2021-22 season in September.

Before each concert, ticket holders will receive specific instructions for entry. Beginning November 26, concerts will be presented with intermission and in-person preconcert conversations will resume. Visit for more information. Patrons are encouraged to visit for audience protocol instructions and the most recent information.

Round-trip shuttle service is now available for an additional fee of $25 per person for patrons traveling to Symphony Center from the North Shore or western suburbs. The North Shore Shuttle will be offered for CSO Friday matinee performances, with more information available here.

Patron Services representatives are available to assist with ticket purchases by web chat at, by calling 312-294-3000 (Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) or by emailing pa************@cs*.org. All artists and programs are subject to change. United Airlines is the Official Airline of the CSO.

The world premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Serenades is co-commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Radio France through the Helen Zell Commissioning Program.

The world premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank’s Haillí-Serenata is commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through the generous support of the Edward F. Schmidt Family Commissioning Fund.

The 2021-22 Civic Orchestra of Chicago season is generously sponsored by The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. The performance on December 6 and is part of The Year of Chicago Music 2021.

The Artist-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is made possible through a generous gift from James and Brenda Grusecki.

The performance on December 15 is generously sponsored by the Schmidt Family Fund and is presented in collaboration with the Midwest Clinic, an International Band and Orchestra Conference.

The appearance of Yulia Van Doren, Reginald Mobley, Ben Bliss and Dashon Burton for the December 16-19 performances of Handel’s Messiah is made possible by the Grainger Fund for Excellence.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra:
Founded by Theodore Thomas in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Since 2010, the pre-eminent conductor Riccardo Muti has served as its 10th music director. Jessie Montgomery is Mead Composer-in-Residence, and Hilary Hahn is CSO Artist-in-Residence.

From baroque through contemporary music, the CSO commands a vast repertoire. Its renowned musicians annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in Chicago and, each summer, at the suburban Ravinia Festival. They regularly tour nationally and internationally. Since 1892, the CSO has made 62 international tours, performing in 29 countries on five continents.

People around the globe listen to weekly radio broadcasts of CSO concerts and recordings on the WFMT radio network and online at Recordings by the CSO have earned 63 Grammy Awards, including two in 2011 for Muti’s recording with the CSO and Chorus of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem (Muti’s first of eight releases with the CSO to date). Find details on these and many other CSO recordings at

The CSO is part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, which also includes the Chicago Symphony Chorus (Duain Wolfe, Director and Conductor) and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (Ken-David Masur, Principal Conductor), a training ensemble for emerging professionals. Through its prestigious Symphony Center Presents series, the CSOA presents guest artists and ensembles from a variety of genres—classical, jazz, world and contemporary.

The Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO offers community and education programs that annually engage more than 200,000 people of diverse ages and backgrounds. Through the Institute and other activities, including a free annual concert led by Muti, the CSO is committed to using the power of music to create connections and build community.

The CSO is supported by thousands of patrons, volunteers and institutional and individual donors. The CSO’s music director position is endowed in perpetuity by a generous gift from the Zell Family Foundation. The Negaunee Foundation provides generous support in perpetuity for the work of the Negaunee Music Institute.

Photos are courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra


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