Mutter & Co. Take Matters into Their Own Hands
The show must go on, even when your new famous conductor cancels a half hour before the concert. On October 2, Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti was stricken with “severe gastric distress” before a gala featuring violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and no replacement conductor was on hand. Instead of chalking it up as a loss, Mutter and the musicians decided to change the program and lead themselves through the Beethoven Violin Concerto, Mozart Symphony No. 34 in C major, K. 338, and a surprise encore—the JS Bach Concerto for two violins in D minor, BWV 1043—shared by Mutter and CSO concertmaster Robert Chen.
The CSO says Muti’s condition had been caused by exhaustion and had canceled the remainder of his fall appearances. Substitute conductors included Harry Bicket, Asher Fisch, and Pierre Boulez.
At press time, Muti was scheduled to return in February. “I cannot express the depth of my regret that I am unable to complete this first residency as music director,” Muti notes. “I have had the privilege of making marvelous music together with this great orchestra, and I am confident that we will continue to do so when I return again.”
A spokesperson from the CSO told Strings that the musicians were unable to comment on Muti, but in a press release, CSO president Deborah Rutter expressed hearty thanks in one sentence to the musicians for stepping up on short notice: “We thank the musicians of the CSO for their extraordinary musicianship in the performance last night at our Symphony Ball.”