Riccardo Muti and CSO dedicate performance to victims of Northern California fires during West Coast tour

By Michael San Gabino |

Maestro Muti and the CSO take a bow after a concert at U.C.-Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. The CSO’s three-concert residency there, part of its 2017 U.S. Fall Tour, was presented by Cal Performances. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

From Kansas City to Los Angeles, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been spreading music across the country during the first of two U.S. tours during the 2017-18 season. This fall, the orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti, makes 9 stops in Kansas and the West Coast before embarking on an East Coast tour in early 2018.

Yet the 2017 tour has come during a somber moment for Californians who are dealing with the aftermath of widespread fires throughout the region, which have left dozens dead.  CSO music director Riccardo Muti decided to dedicate an encore to victims after a concert in Berkeley, where the orchestra had a multi-day residency. Following a performance of Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 and Symphony No. 3 on Oct. 15, 2017, the orchestra performed Schubert’s Entr’acte No. 3 from Rosamunde in honor of the victims.

WFMT’s Candice Agree spoke with John Bruce Yeh, CSO assistant principal clarinetist, via Facetime during her afternoon shift. Yeh described the lingering effects of the wildfires. “Walking around Berkeley, there was smoke hanging in the air and even in the concert hall. Maestro Muti came out and addressed the audience: ‘We are paying homage and tribute.’”

Yeh continued, “The audience was touched in a unique way. Everyone [had] this cloud—literally—hanging over their heads. It brought comfort to everybody in the hall and brought the beauty of the music out.”

The CSO will finish its tour in southern California before returning to Symphony Center in Chicago.