CHICAGO (AFP) ― Italian conductor Riccardo Muti said Monday he will extend his tenure as the musical director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through 2020.
The famous maestro from Naples has thrilled audiences in Chicago since his arrival in 2010.
“Chicago is my home away from home, and I am very glad it will continue to be so,” Muti said in a statement. “The people here are very special, and their support of this fine orchestra is essential to its future.”
Muti, 72, praised the orchestra’s “extraordinary” musicians, saying “we have a symbiosis, a warm and unique way of working together.”
Muti quickly won over the Windy City with his wide and intriguing repertoire and commitment to expanding the orchestra’s reach through open rehearsals and free concerts in schools, parks and even prisons.
He plans to continue to enhance the orchestra’s international reputation with tours, recordings and projects like a live webcast of Verdi’s Requiem which drew more than 100,000 viewers last year.
Muti was the chief conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1972 to 1982 and served as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra between 1980 and 1992.
He was music director of La Scala from 1986 to 2005 with projects including the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy and Wagner’s “Ring” cycle.
He succeeded renowned Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, who stepped down from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2006.
The new contract calls on him to conduct performances during ten subscription weeks of the season, to make recordings and to lead domestic and foreign tours, the orchestra said.