Local and national broadcast of Chicago Symphony concerts will resume in March 2007 for the first time since 2001. The BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcasts will be produced by Chicago radio station WFMT-FM 98.7 and syndicated by the WFMT Radio Network.
The 52-week series will be made up of 39 weekly programs offering interviews and special features in addition to the taped performances. The remaining 13 weeks will feature commercial recordings by the CSO.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the programs will be syndicated to more than 160 media markets throughout the U.S. CSO Association President Deborah R. Card told the paper, "We feel the radio broadcasts can have a positive impact on our CDs and other recordings, drawing people to our website and, of course, bringing more people to our live concerts."
The orchestra's new label, called CSO Resound, will launch in early 2007 with a recording, to be available as a CD or a digital download, of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with CSO principal conductor Bernard Haitink, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Chicago Children's Choir. Commercial release of the recording, taken from concert performances in October 2006, will be contingent upon agreement with other artistic partners, including the American Guild of Musical Artists.
The CSO expects to release around six CDs over the next three years, all culled from live recordings of CSO concerts. In addition, three to four digital-only releases will be issued each year, according to the Tribune.
An additional audience development initiative by the CSO is free video downloads of the orchestra's educational series Beyond the Score; the first will be a download (available in January) of Bart‹k's The Miraculous Mandarin, with conductor emeritus Pierre Boulez and host Gerard McBurney.
CDs and digital downloads will be available through the orchestra's website (www.cso.org), iTunes, amazon.com and other channels.
The recordings and radio programs are the result of a three-year agreement between the musicians and management of the CSO which stipulates contractual guidelines for radio broadcasts of CSO orchestral and chamber music concerts and allows for simultaneous streaming on the Internet. The contract also sets the terms for the production of CSO Resound recordings and includes provisions to create one complimentary recording each year for educational use in Chicago public schools.
The launch of CSO Resound and the radio broadcasts are made possible by a three-year, $3.4 million grant from the petroleum company BP. The BP gift will also support to two European tours (including the orchestra's upcoming fall 2007 tour with Riccardo Muti to London, Paris and cities throughout Italy) and the CSO's Opening Night Gala programs in 2007 and 2008.