Chicago Symphony Orchestra brings classical beauty to Wheaton

  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform the music of Haydn and Mozart on Friday, March 16, in Edman Chapel at Wheaton College. The program features Robert Chen and Paul Neubauer as soloists.

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform the music of Haydn and Mozart on Friday, March 16, in Edman Chapel at Wheaton College. The program features Robert Chen and Paul Neubauer as soloists. Courtesy of Todd Rosenberg

Updated 3/9/2018 10:50 PM

"People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to compositions as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times," wrote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

His most favorite composer, whose mentorship and friendship Mozart deeply appreciated, was Franz Joseph Haydn. The music of these two equally talented and unique composers is going to be presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16, at spectacular Edman Memorial Chapel located on the campus of Wheaton College.


Directed by legendary Maestro Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is highly recognized around the country and in the world. Founded by Theodore Thomas in 1891, the orchestra is known for its musical excellence, high quality of musicianship, intensive collaboration with the best conductors and guest artists from all over the world, and for its spectacular performances. Recipient of numerous international awards, Maestro Muti has been serving as Music Director at Chicago Symphony Orchestra since September 2010.

The orchestra performs more than 100 concerts each year at its downtown Chicago home, Symphony Center, and at the Ravinia Festival on Chicago's North Shore. It frequently tours across the United States and around the globe. However, for years it wasn't that easy for Chicago suburban residents to attend the performances of this great orchestra. Coming from a suburb to a concert in Chicago was always a difficult task considering the travel time and the cost.

Having the orchestra come to the suburbs seemed like a great solution, and that solution was found through Wheaton College.

"We learned while looking through our database that a relatively small number of people travel from DuPage County to downtown Chicago to hear the CSO," said Jeff Alexander, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association in his interview during the 2016-2017 concert season. "Some do and we're grateful for them, but the number is not that large. So we felt that if we repeated a concert there that we're presenting downtown, we could do so and present it to an almost completely new audience."

As a result, the orchestra has established a suburban concert series based in Edman Memorial Chapel, which is part of Wheaton College. The idea of expanding the orchestra's engagement with west-suburban audiences became a success as its very first subscription concert in Wheaton attracted more than 1,600 attendees. Chicago Symphony Orchestra's upcoming concert in Edman Chapel on March 16 is going to be another step in reaching new generations and new audiences with the glory of symphonic music.

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This concert program, which is the same program that will be performed in Chicago on March 15 and 17, will open with Haydn's Symphony No. 89 in F Major. This piece was written in 1787 and is known as a composition that borrows musical material from Haydn's own Concerto for 2 lire organizzate (organ lyre), a keyboard instrument favored by the King of Naples Ferdinand IV who commissioned Haydn to write several works for the instrument. The second and fourth movements of this symphony are based on sections from that concerto.

However, this is not the only interesting fact about Symphony No. 89. Being more than twenty years older than his fellow composer Mozart and being his mentor, Haydn was influenced by Mozart while writing this symphony. It particularly can be heard in Vivace, the first movement, where Haydn used Mozart-like "barking bassoon" and implemented a swirling transition in the middle of it similar to passages of Mozart. These little nuances underline the undoubted talent of Haydn and enhance his unique style that is greatly demonstrated in the ambitious finale of this masterpiece.

The centerpiece of the evening will be Mozart's celebrated Sinfonia concertante, a work that combines elements of both a symphony and concerto and can be considered his most successful realization in this crossover genre between symphony and concerto. This composition gives the violin and viola soloists the opportunity to demonstrate their artistic and technical mastership through brilliant melodic solos accompanied by rich orchestral sonorities.

Mozart's Sinfonia concertante will feature two soloists. For one of them, violist Paul Neubauer, his participation in this concert program will be a debut performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Being a world-renowned musician, Neubauer has appeared with over one hundred orchestras throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Neubauer is a two-time Grammy nominee known for his outstanding musical mastery, endless creativity and extremely productive musical career. His appearance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra is greatly anticipated.


Robert Chen, Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Concertmaster, is another featured soloist in Mozart's Sinfonia concertante. Chen has been serving in this position since 1999. During his years as concertmaster, he has been featured as soloist with such acclaimed conductors as Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Christoph Eschenbach, and many more. Chen also enjoys an international solo career that includes performances with numerous orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Orchestra and Moscow Philharmonic. Chen is also an enthusiastic chamber musician. His powerful playing technique and brilliant artistic attitude impress his audiences.

This concert program will be completed with Mozart's Symphony No. 36 (Linz), which takes its subtitle from the Austrian city in which it was written. Mozart composed this symphony in about four days, beginning on Oct. 30, and had it ready for performance by Count Thun's orchestra on Nov. 4, 1783. As Mozart wrote later, he had to work on it at "head-over-heels speed." In spite of that, the Linz Symphony is considered to be an elegant masterpiece that doesn't have any signs of haste but demonstrates all the beauty of Mozart's genius.

Join Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its March 16 concert at Edman Chapel in Wheaton and enjoy the endless beauty of classical music. Through its sounds, you might hear Mozart say: "If only the whole world could feel the power of harmony." Believe me, you will definitely feel it!

For tickets and information, visit or call (312) 294-3000. Edman Memorial Chapel is located at 401 E. Franklin St. in Wheaton. Tickets range from $45 to $85 with special discounted $15 tickets for students. Free parking is available.

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