New Curators of MusicNOW Preview - They Aim to Let You Experience the Thrill of New Art

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) acclaimed MusicNOW series—dedicated to showcasing contemporary music through an innovative concert experience—opens its 2015/16 season on Monday, November 23, at 7 p.m., at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park (205 E. Randolph Dr., Chicago). The November 23concert marks the first MusicNOW program curated by newly-appointed CSO Mead Composers-in-Residence Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek, who will introduce the program. Adams and Ogonek were appointed by the CSO’s Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti for a three-year term starting this season and continuing through the 2017/18 season.
Splash magazine caught up with Samuel Adams to ask him what our readers can expect in the new MusicNOW...
Q: What do you most admire about the MusicNow series to date (i.e. by your predecessors) that you want to maintain and build upon during your tenure?

(Adams) There is an unfathomably large number of currents in today’s music, so large that it’s impossible to see where we’re headed. Our predecessors have done such a wonderful job with MusicNOW, emphasizing this diversity of approach and providing a platform for so many different voices to be heard. 

Q: Are there new directions you hope the series will take over time?

(Adams) By belief is that a curator should not only preserve existing works, but should also facilitate the creation of new work, helping artists realize their nascent visions. It is my hope that in future seasons of MusicNOW, we will hear plenty of music that currently does not exist. 

Q:  How do you expect your own compositions to change now that you are working with the CSO? 

(Adams) Working with an orchestra can be extremely impersonal. The extent of a composer’s engagement is typically with the conductor directly; you’re lucky if a member of the ensemble approaches you with a question. With the CSO, the residency provides us composers with the opportunity to connect with the members of the orchestra before and during the process of creating a piece. This is rare and invaluable: to get to know the musicians and to figure out the complex and fascinating web of relationships that makes them glow. Because of this, I can say with certainty, that my new works will develop out of dialogue and friendship. That’s the best way to make music, in my opinion. 

Q: Why would you recommend that Splash readers consider coming to  a MusicNow performance?

(Adams) It’s quite simple: engaging with a new work of art can be a transformative experience.

Following each MusicNOW concert, audiences are invited to enjoy a postconcert reception with the artists with complimentary refreshments including  pizza provided by Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and beer provided by Revolution Brewing Company.

Tickets for all MusicNOW concerts can be purchased by phone at 800‑223‑7114 or 312-294‑3000; online at, or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.




Photos:  Todd Rosenberg Photography

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