Classical music plays an integral role in history, as well as in every day life. From the famous compositions of greats like Beethoven and Mozart to the intriguing sounds of modern composers such as John Williams and Hans Zimmer, classical music can be found everywhere if you listen closely enough. In recognition of Classical Music Month this September, here are just a few of the nation’s top symphony orchestras.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra
(CSO) continues to be one of the world’s elite orchestras, topping out at number five on Gramophone
’s list of the world’s best orchestras in 2008. With a long history filled with famous musicians, composers and directors, it’s no wonder why. The CSO’s story began in 1891 when then conductor Theodore Thomas established a symphony orchestra in Chicago; Thomas went on to serve as the orchestra’s director until 1905. The CSO is composed of 109 musicians and presents over 150 performances a year, many at the Symphony Center in downtown Chicago and at the orchestra’s summer home at the Ravinia Festival on the North Shore. In addition, the orchestra has performed 36 overseas tours since its first European tour in 1971. The orchestra has garnered numerous awards for its recordings including 67 Grammy Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The CSO offers a variety of ticketed and free performances year-round. On September 22, 2011, there is a free performance of Ibert’s Flute Concerto
and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5
. Find additional performances, ticket pricing and information about the CSO at http://cso.org.
Since its founding in 1918 by local Cleveland citizens, the Cleveland Orchestra has been performing worldwide. The Cleveland Orchestra is the first American orchestra to acquire a residency at the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna. The orchestra’s winter home is at Cleveland’s Severance Hall. Designed by Cleveland architecture firm Walker & Weeks, the hall opened in 1931 and has received overwhelming praise as one of the most beautiful and best-sounding concert halls in the nation. During the summer, the orchestra performs at the Blossom Festival near Cuyahoga Falls. In addition to presenting performances around the world, the Cleveland Orchestra is devoted to educating local youth. Through outreach opportunities such as the Family Concert Series, PNC Musical Rainbow Series and other community music initiatives, the orchestra has introduced symphonic music to more than four million area schoolchildren since 1918. On September 29 and 30, 2011, you can enjoy a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky’s Concerto in D. In October, the PNC Musical Rainbow Series presents Tricky Trombone. Plan your visit to the orchestra at www.clevelandorchestra.com.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is the winter home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The hall’s architectural design is unparalleled; the New Yorker described it as “…a sensational place to hear music. In richness of sound, it has few rivals on the international scene, and in terms of visual drama, it may have no rival at all.” During the summer, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performs at the Hollywood Bowl, a beloved tradition since 1922. These winter and summer performances, in addition to international performances, total about 300 concerts annually. Celebrating its 92nd season this year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is leading the way in innovative programming. Conductor Gustavo Dudamel reinvents 21st century orchestral sound, seeking new audiences, new ground and redefining the musical experience. Enjoy an unforgettable performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic on September 24, 2011 for a sing-a-long to the Sound of Music, or get your tickets for the September 27, 2011 Opening Night Gala, featuring selections from Gershwin and keyboard legend Herbie Hancock. For tickets and more information, go to www.laphil.com.
The nation boasts numerous other noteworthy orchestras including the renowned New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. These organizations offer splendid performances for both young and old, so take an opportunity to celebrate Classical Music Month.