CSO-Connect Finale and Civic Concert: Reflecting on May 8-21, 2019

After the CSO strike ended, the music and liveliness finally came back to Orchestra Hall. And after seven enduring weeks, our Civic Orchestra finally set foot back in Symphony Center. Just as important, we were able to get back to Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities to share our love for, and the power of, music.

The Civic Fellows had a wonderful CSO-Connect finale. The culminating event is one of the highlights of whole season. Starting in January, the fellows visited ten Chicago Public Schools to prepare and familiarize students with the instruments and repertoire of a CSO School Concert. Even though the school concert was canceled during the strike, many of the students were able to hear versions of the songs with our in-class performances (see video below).

In addition, smaller groups of fellows paired with each participating school and made multiple visits, where we helped teachers and students create songs about Chicago’s history. The theme for the season was “Flash Back, Flash Forward” which paid homage to the 100th season of the Civic Orchestra as well as CSO’s concert series for children. The culminating event this season was held of the course of two days, and was hosted by our awesome partners at Sullivan High School. The event was meaningful to all of us and the amount of work and enthusiasm from the students was inspiring. Personally, I visited Sawyer Elementary School to work with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes and my experience with the students allowed me to flashback to when I first started becoming curious about music and the oboe.

ABOVE: Flash Back, Flash Forward: CSO-Connect video of a Civic Fellows’ school presentation, mixed with inspiring performances from partner schools at the culminating event.

After this amazing project ended, we turned our attention to the Civic Orchestra’s upcoming mainstage concert – our first concert on stage in Orchestra Hall in over four months. On May 12, under the direction of the wonderful Ken-David Masur, the Orchestra gave the world premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s Meander, Spiral, Explode for percussion quartet and orchestra. Featuring Third Coast Percussion, the piece was co-commissioned by Civic in celebration of its 100th season. The concert also featured Debussy’s La Mer, and Schumann’s Symphony No.1. This concert was special in so many ways because it was the first concert right after the strike which reminded us how much we enjoy playing music.

ABOVE: On May 12, under the direction Ken-David Masur, the Civic Orchestra gave the world premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s Meander, Spiral, Explode for percussion quartet and orchestra. Featuring Third Coast Percussion, the piece was co-commissioned by Civic in celebration of its 100th season.

The next week, Civic Fellow Rebecca Boelzner presented her independent project, Notes on Nature, an afternoon of music celebrating the beauty of the natural world and investigating the effect of human industry on our planet. The event featured Mozart’s joyful and buoyant Spring Quartet, the percussive and driving Thunderstorm by Samara Rice, Puccini’s mournful elegy Crisantemi, and Planetary Bands, a piece written by a scientist using climate data. Donations went to the Chicago Sierra Club.

Stay tuned for a flourish of end-of-season Civic Fellows activities!

By Civic Fellow and oboe Alice Siyoon Park


TOP: Ken-David Masur leads the Civic Orchestra during a concert in Orchestra Hall on May 12. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.