Riccardo Muti leads 500th performance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra

One of the most senior musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra said, "the emotions are overwhelming" that Music Director Riccardo Muti will be leading him and the rest of the orchestra for the 500th time Tuesday night.

A major reason for that is how lucky he feels that Chicago was able to bring Muti to the city 12 years ago.

"To lure a conductor, an artist of his stature, to Chicago was a huge coup for the orchestra," said CSO Trombone Michael Mulcahy, who's played with the orchestra since the 1990s. "This is someone who is in hot demand in Europe, with the Vienna Philharmonic for over 50 years."

The 81-year-old Muti took the stage at Symphony Center for the 500th time Tuesday as its Music Director, a post he's held since 2010.


"He's an artist of such depth and presence," said Mulcahy. "When he walks out on stage, the room changes. You don't know where it's going to go. There can be moments of tranquility and peace, and there can be stormy moments of great excitement, intensity."

Muti, who's set to step back from his role next year, thanked the musicians for helping him keep the CSO among the world's elite orchestras, agreeing with Mulcahy that there's been magic in their collaboration.

"I brought to the orchestra my culture and I took from the orchestra their culture," said Muti.

"He didn't need to come here, but he did come, and he kind of fell in love with us, as we did him," said Mulcahy.

"Music is not an enjoyment, not an entertainment," said Muti. "It is spiritual enrichment. [Chicagoans should] come here and to receive the message of beauty."

When asked about the future of the CSO, Maestro Muti said, "there's still a lot to do" and wanted to remind our viewers that Chicago has one of the world's greatest orchestras right here in the city.