New players in key positions put stamp on Chicago Symphony sound

Posted on: November 30, 2011

In Tuesday’s (11/29) Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein writes about some recent hires at the Chicago Symphony: principal clarinetist Stephen Williamson and associate concertmaster Stephanie Jeong. “As the first major hires of Riccardo Muti’s CSO tenure, each new hire soon will be putting his or her stamp on the sound and style of the orchestra. … Both Williamson and Jeong had to deliver while barely out of the box. The clarinetist’s very first concerts with Muti and the CSO were in late August at the prestigious Salzburg Festival, where the orchestra began its most recent European tour. Muti’s tour repertory was rife with pieces containing big clarinet solos that would test Williamson’s mettle in front of some of Europe’s most sophisticated concert audiences. … Jeong’s turn in the hot seat came right here in Chicago, in early October, when she had been on the job little more than a week. Concertmaster Robert Chen, with whom she shares the first violin stand, fell ill only hours before Muti and the orchestra were to perform Liszt’s ‘A Faust Symphony.’ This big, sprawling Romantic work requires virtuoso playing from everyone, especially the section principals. Jeong went on as concertmaster, kept her cool and got her own solo bow.” Williamson had formerly been with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and Jeong was with the New York Philharmonic.

Posted November 30, 2011