Classical 91.5

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Thursdays, 8 to 10 pm on WXXI-FM 91.5, WXXY 90.3, WXXI-FM/HD 91.5-1, WITH-FM/HD 90.1-2 and online at
  • Hosted by Lisa Simeone

Produced by Marty Ronish and hosted by Lisa Simeone, this weekly, two-hour series offers a unique format of engaging and lively content, including produced segments created to provide deeper insight into the music and programmatic themes found within the CSO’s concert season; interviews with CSO musicians, guest artists, and composers; and an exploration of the stories found within the CSO’s rich heritage of recordings and the Orchestra’s illustrious history in Chicago.

Travel with the Chicago Symphony to Scandanavia where we'll hear music by Sibelius, Nielsen and a traditional Danish Bridal Tune from the village of Sønderho. Don't miss the boat on 10/22.

Stephanie Jeong, the CSO’s associate concertmaster, and Kenneth Olsen, the assistant principal cello of the CSO, tackle Brahms' monumental Double Concerto on the 9/24 broadcast.  The two refer to it as "a technical behemoth for both soloists" in this interview with Lawrence B. Johnson of Chicago on the Aisle.

We'll hear the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story open the August 27th broadcast of the CSO. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story reimagined the most enduring romance ever as a modern musical, with a score and dancing for the ages. Now, more than 60 years later, thanks to endless stagings and film renditions, West Side Story is considered one of the most critical cultural accomplishments of the 20th century.

The Chicago Symphony presents Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from the 1954 film, On the Waterfront (7/23).

Estonian painter August Albo (1893-1963) created "Strauss Waltz" depicting dancers in an elegant ballroom with and orchestra in the balcony above.  We'll hear many of the waltzes that inspired this painting in the June 18th broadcast.

We'll hear two different composer's take on The Four Seasons with the CSO on Thursday, 5/21.  

Berlioz's The Death of Cleopatra is a haunting setting of Cleopatra's final moments for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. Berlioz was an avid Shakespeare fan and wanted the piece to mimic the drama and chilling ending for the timeless story. This month the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Joyce Didonato share the piece (4/30). 

4/2        Prokofiev: Suite from The Love for Three Oranges Poulenc: Gloria Gounod: Saint Cecilia Mass

Max Raimi's piece Anger Management is featured this month with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (3/19). The piece began as an etude for viola, and later Raimi transcribed it for violin. In addition to his work as a composer, Raimi is a violist with the Chicago Symphony. 

3/5        Glazunov: Concert Waltz No. 1 Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 Sibelius: Suite from Karelia

Ken Benshoof is revered as the "Pied Piper of the Piccolo." He has composed numerous incidental and chamber works. In addition to that, he has composed a number of works featuring solo piccolo that have made him somewhat of a household name amongst piccolo players. We will hear one of these pieces with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this month (2/27), featuring Jennifer Gunn on the piccolo.

The CSO Messiah performance, led by Matthew Halls, comes from a longer local Handel tradition than is apparent on the surface. While perhaps not a Messiah for the ages, the English conductor made a largely impressive CSO debut, leading a worthy and stylish performance of Handel’s Christmas perennial. (Chicago Classical Review)