Final “Beyond the Score” Concert Preview and Series Retrospective - CSO’s Most Able Ambassador

We met a cocky young Leonard Bernstein and traveled with him as he got older and wiser. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg


Tension was already high as we watched never-before-seen footage of Joseph Stalin as a pallbearer carrying the coffin of a rival he had murdered.   Gerard McBurney’s voice was understandably more high pitched and excited to reveal this footage to the world, and specifically us, one of the earliest “Beyond the Score” CSO audiences. 


Then, from the rafters an angry voice yelled out, “I came here for music, not for propaganda!” 


If it weren’t for CSO 1st Violinist Robert Chen looking up to the balcony just as startled as we were, the fleeting thought occurred that McBurney and the CSO planted this angry man shill to add to the drama of the script telling the story of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4.   Then, it took but a second to realize that no added drama was needed.  The screaming from the peanut gallery was real.


We met a feisty Charles Ives and his wife. At one point Ives started telling the conductor how to conduct. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg


Welcome to CSO’s “Beyond the Score”, a series created by the CSO under McBurney’s direction to help make classical music more accessible to more people.   


Rimsky-Korsakov's childhood imagination and wanderlust gives us a glimpse into Sheherazade's soul. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg


With dazzling multimedia collages, animation, dancers, actors, and more—“Beyond the Score” has been one of the most successful CSO initiatives to make classical music ALIVE in it’s halls.   Sometimes focusing on a specific work, sometimes on a composer’s interesting biography, or a focus on the musical traditions such as folk tunes intertwined in the work, or landscapes that inspired the scores—“Beyond the Score” never failed to live up to its name.


Pierre Boulez was alive and 90 when this tribute to his life and music was first staged. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg


This upcoming Friday May 13 and Sunday May 15 will be the last in this great series to be held at Symphony Center, and our chance to now meet Manuel de Falla, described by the CSO as “Passionately loyal to his ancestral roots in the far south of Spain, Manuel de Falla spent nearly 20 of the most intense years of his composing life in the beautiful and historic city of Granada in Andalusia. What so powerfully drew him there was the richly diverse culture of this ancient world, with its exotic blend of Islamic, Christian, Jewish and Romany traditions; its fabulous architecture and landscapes; and most of all, the unforgettably heart-rending and world famous music of flamenco—its sensual dancing, strummed guitars and "deep song," the cante jondo, which Falla himself called the purest and oldest of all the different forms of gypsy music. From such stunningly beautiful material, Falla created his own timeless world, a dream-like Spain of hot and perfumed nights, tragic passions and dark incantations….”


Gerard McBurney, Beyond the Score Creative Director. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg


For those of us who have come to love the “Beyond the Score” programming this last concert will be a bittersweet moment to remember so many composers and compositions that this series has brought alive.


We learned how Frank Sinatra took a page from Brahms -- sort of. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg


There is a sweet note to make for all Chicagoans who love CSO being an ambassador for our fine city.  Now, orchestras all over the world are able to license these “Beyond the Score” programs --script and accompanying multi-media elements, as many have done since licensing became available in 2009.  In addition, Beyond The Score productions available at no cost to fans online  have reached an online audience of more than 180,000 visitors from more than 50 countries around the world, to date.  For the 2016/17 season CSO reports having 7 licensing requests for Beyond the Score.  For 2015/2016 CSO licensed 6 programs, and in 2014/15 licensed 12 programs with 4 of those being the very special Pierre Boulez program – A Pierre Dream.  Some of the most popular programs requested for licensing include the Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 (“New World Symphony”), Mussorgsky: Pictures From an Exhibition, Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 and Rimsky-KorsakovSheherazade.”


We learned about how Berlioz' "woman problem" inspired his Symphonie Fantastique. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg


Some of the many “Beyond The Score” programs can be streamed here –with no charge—from the CSO’s website


To read Splash magazines’ reviews of previous concerts put “Beyond the Score” in the search box above.


For tickets to this final “Beyond the Score” program visit the CSO website or call the box office at 312-294-3000.



Symphony Center

220 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago, IL 60604


Photos:  Todd Rosenberg Photography

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