Chicago Symphony Celebrates 100 Years in Orchestra Hall

Classic Arts News   Chicago Symphony Celebrates 100 Years in Orchestra Hall
Tonight, the Chicago Symphony marks the 100th anniversary of its first performance in Orchestra Hall‹now a part of Symphony Center‹with a sold-out concert conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

Slatkin leads the same program conducted by CSO founder Theodore Thomas on December 14, 1904: the overture and "Hail Bright Abode" from Wagner's Tannh‹user, Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's Messiah.

For its first 14 years, the orchestra performed at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre. In 1903, CSO trustee Daniel Burnham designed Orchestra Hall, an eight-story building of brick and limestone; the building was built for $750,000 over seven months the following year.

The hall underwent $3 million renovations in 1966 and 1981, the second including the installation of a new organ. In 1993, the CSO launched a $110 million expansion, adding a second performance space, a restaurant, and offices, and renovating the acoustics of the original auditorium. The expanded building, completed in 1997, was named Symphony Center.

In addition to the CSO, Orchestra Hall hosts a series of touring acts, once called Allied Arts and now called Symphony Center Presents, which has brought such performers as Marian Anderson, Jacqueline du Pr_, Judy Garland, Benny Goodman, Jascha Heifitz, Vladimir Horowitz, Robert Merrill, and Beverly Sills to the hall. The hall has also been the site of the inaugurations of Chicago mayors Richard M. Daley Jr. and Harold Washington and lectures by Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr.

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