Among the contenders, according to Tribune music critic John von Rhein, are Riccardo Chailly, Riccardo Muti, Antonio Pappano, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin and Michael Tilson Thomas. The group is an expanded version of a list given by the Tribune last year.
A decision is likely to be made by July 2008, Deborah R. Card, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, told the newspaper.
Causing the greatest buzz are Muti and Chailly, both highly revered and well-versed in the CSO's core Germanic repertory.
Muti, however, has a history of professional contention, in particular his controversial departure from his post as La Scala's music director in 2005. In addition, Muti also has not conducted the CSO in over three decades; stricken with influenza last fall, he was forced to cancel a guest appearance with the orchestra.
Contrastingly, Chailly has had a harmonious relationship with the CSO since 1993. "I haven't heard a single dissenting voice about the man, either from the orchestra's musicians or the concert public," writes von Rhein.
Chailly, though, has two years left on his contract with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra as its general music director. Whether or not the conductor would juggle two positions if offered the job with the CSO is indeterminable, comments von Rhein.
"I don't want to rush a decision just because somebody thinks we need to do something," said Card.