On Oct. 21, peace is coming to Chicago – at least for those attending the World Orchestra for Peace (WOP) concert at Chicago’s Symphony Center. This special orchestra was first envisioned by the late conductor Sir Georg Solti at a Buckingham Palace concert honoring his 80th birthday.
He noted “the unique strength of music as an ambassador for peace.”
It returns to Chicago, where Solti served as Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director from 1969-1991, to honor the 100th anniversary of Solti’s birth.
The concert is headlined by international opera stars who rarely appear in Chicago. Bass René Pape, last in Chicago for the Lyric Opera’s 2009 production of Gounod’s Faust, and soprano Angela Gheorghiu, whose last scheduled Chicago appearance ended abruptly and un-peacefully with her controversial firing from the Lyric Opera’s 2007 La Boheme.
Gheorghiu has a particularly close tie to Solti. He conducted the Royal Opera House’s sensational 1996 production of Verdi’s La Traviata which catapulted a young Gheorghiu to international stardom. It was the first Traviata for them both. She continues to honor Solti’s legacy through her WOP performances as well as her mentorship of young singers at the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto which she announced this past April.
The concert’s repertoire is comprised of selections by Mozart, Strauss, Verdi, Mahler, and Bartok. While the Verdi pieces is significant for Gheorghiu, the performance of Richard Strauss’ famed tone poem Don Juan also alludes to important moments in Solti’s career. Solti arranged the programming for Strauss’ 85th birthday and conducted the orchestra at Strauss’ burial.
To find out more about the concert, see www.cso.org or call the Symphony Center at (312) 294-3000.