by John von Rhein - contact reporter. Chicago Tribune. January 10, 2017.
Riccardo Muti and his Chicago Symphony Orchestra, shown in 2014 in Vienna, will revisit the Austrian capital during the upcoming European tour, along with cities in France, Germany, Denmark and Italy. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)
You don't build on your reputation as one of the world's greatest orchestras by playing only to local admirers. Presenting yourself directly to the concert public in the musical capitals of Europe and Asia also is essential.
"The orchestra," said Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti, "must physically be there."
For that and many other reasons, overseas touring has been integral to the operation of the Chicago Symphony since 1971, when Georg Solti took the orchestra on a six-week, nine-country swing through the cultural citadels of Europe.
That historic initial foreign tour certified the CSO's world-class stature at home and abroad, made foreigners regard Chicago with new respect and locals with new pride. It boosted Chicago business interests abroad. It earned the orchestra musicians a ticker tape parade on State Street, an honor perhaps only the Cubs would get today.
Preserving both reputation and tradition is once more the driving force behind the CSO's latest Continental invasion — a tight 11-concert, seven-city, two-week swing through France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Italy that's set to launch Friday in Paris.
On Monday — the same day the CSO musicians left for Paris — a cargo jet stuffed with the orchestra's trunks and equipment also departed O'Hare International Airport for Luxembourg, where the freight was loaded onto trucks bound for Paris. It was unloaded at the Philharmonie on Tuesday, two days before the scheduled first rehearsal. The loading, unloading and trucking of cargo will be repeated from city to city before the orchestra's return home on Jan. 28.
Along with 93 orchestra members (including eight extra players), the tour party will include a dozen administrative and staff members, and a patron group of 27.
Much as some CSO trustees would like the orchestra to play more often at home, maintaining regular visibility overseas is crucial to the welfare of the institution, officials point out.
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