Chicago Symphony’s first free “Concert for Chicago” in Millennium Park since 2018

Posted on: June 29, 2022

Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its free “Concert for Chicago,” June 27, 2022. Photo: Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune

“On Monday night, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s moniker for its annual free community concert felt like more than lofty branding,” writes Hannah Edgar in Tuesday’s (6/28) Chicago Tribune. “The CSO and music director Riccardo Muti last performed a ‘Concert for Chicago’ at the Pritzker Pavilion back in 2018. The roving annual series usually signals the end of summer and the beginning of the fall season. But in a city where summers can hang heavy with strife, the CSO’s concerts in Millennium Park, the city’s symbolic heart … feel like a special balm…. It was a dense hour, pairing Dmitri Shostakovich [Festive Overture] and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky [Symphony No. 4], Russian symphonists who wrote the book on waltzing, marching and grinning through tragedy…. The [Tchaikovsky] symphony’s finale is all fun and games until the shattering return of the first movement’s brass theme, which was exceptionally devastating on Monday night. Muti let the orchestra’s two strikes ring out, and in those pregnant pauses, one could have sworn not just Millennium Park but the whole Loop fell silent…. [In] Shostakovich’s ‘Festive Overture’ … the Chicago brass sounded especially magnificent.”