“Only beauty with a capital ‘B’ can save the world,” Riccardo Muti Reminds High Schoolers

By David Polk and Karina Kücking |

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Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a Community Concert at Lane Tech College Prep High School on November 15, 2017 (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

17 year-old Rebecca Vazquez said that hearing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform at Lane Tech College Prep, where she is a student, is a “a once in a lifetime opportunity.” The orchestra performed there on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, as part of its efforts to bring music to communities throughout Chicago.

“I was feeling every piece they played, every movement,” she added, “it just made me think about how music changes our lives.” Rebecca is also one of several Lane Tech students who had the opportunity to participate in master classes with CSO prior to the concert. “I have been working on the first movement from the Bruch Concerto No.1,” she explained. “The assistant concertmaster helped me with different tips. I feel like I see it in a different way now and I can improve much better.”

Riccardo Muti greats Lane Tech students and their families after a Chicago Symphony Orchestra Community Concert on November 15, 2017 (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Rebecca was one of almost 2000 people, including students and members of their families, in the audience at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s annual free Community Concert. The auditorium was so packed, both on stage and off, that violinists seated in the last row of the orchestra would occasionally brush the emerald curtain behind when bowing some passages during a performance of Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” (No. 8) and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. Muti selected the repertoire to share “a message of love and beauty” to “the young, the generation of the future,” Muti said in a post-concert speech.

After the concert, Rebecca said that the CSO musicians have motivated her to continue pursuing music, and “just to play the music in a way that the audience can also feel how I want the music to be felt.” And based upon the way the rest of the audience reacted, the members of the orchestra must have wanted everyone to feel inspired.

Why did Muti choose this repertoire to share with Lane Tech students and their families? Just minutes before the concert, CSO bassist Bradley Opland mused, “I was trying to figure out why would he play Schubert’s ‘Unfinished Symphony.’ It’s unfinished…it’s like going through High School. Who knows?”

Muti left the students with a lesson that they can take with them during their time in high school and beyond, saying, “remember, all of you, only beauty with a capital ‘B’ can save the world.”