Tonight's "opening-night gala"—which actually follows several weekends of performances by the CSO—includes Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 and Schubert's Symphony No. 9 ("Great"). After the performance, patrons will be transported to Millennium Park for cocktails, dinner, and dancing.
The 2005-06 season will include performances of Barenboim's signature works, visits from many of his musical friends, and a week of farewell concerts. The conductor departs at the end of the season after 17 years with the orchestra, including two as music director designate.
Among the works programmed in Barenboim's honor are Act III of Wagner's Parsifal, performed in concert with baritone Thomas Hampson and Ren_ Pape, and music by Ravel, Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg.
The season will also include four world premieres, a nod to Barenboim's advocacy of new music: Elliott Carter's Soundings, principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez's Notations for Orchestra V and VI, composer in residence Augusta Read Thomas's Astral Canticle, and a new work by Isabel Mundry.
Among the guest soloists on the schedule are such frequent Barenboim collaborators as violinists Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Maxim Vengerov; pianists Radu Lupu, Alfred Brendel, and Lang Lang; and bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff.
In the final week of the season, Barenboim will lead three valedictory concerts, each with a different program and each featuring a ninth symphony: Mahler's Ninth on June 15, 2006; Bruckner's Ninth on June 16; and Beethoven's Ninth, paired with his Choral Fantasy, on June 17.
In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, the CSO will perform the composer's work throughout the season; highlights include the Requiem and a performances with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago of dance set to Mozart's music.
Guest conductors on the schedule include David Robertson, Zubin Mehta, Bernard Haitink, Charles Dutoit, David Zinman, Andrea Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph von Dohnšnyi, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
The orchestra traveled to the Lucerne Festival in September and will visit the New York area in November.