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Monday, April 15, 2024

Klaus Mäkelä Named Music Director of Chicago Symphony Orchestra

In a historic announcement on Tuesday, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra unveiled Klaus Mäkelä, a 28-year-old Finnish conductor, as its next music director. This decision marks a departure from tradition, as Mäkelä will become the youngest maestro in the orchestra’s 133-year history and one of the youngest to lead a top American ensemble.

Mäkelä, known for his charisma and clarity, will commence a five-year contract in 2027, assuming the role at the youthful age of 31. Reflecting on his age, Mäkelä expressed that music transcends such boundaries, emphasizing his extensive experience in conducting since the age of 12.

The appointment of Mäkelä comes with high anticipation, as he brings a fresh perspective and vitality to the esteemed institution. His vision for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra centers on harnessing the ensemble’s rich legacy while exploring new horizons. Mäkelä was drawn to the orchestra’s unparalleled intensity and sound, envisioning limitless possibilities for artistic achievement.

Having already garnered international acclaim, Mäkelä’s trajectory has been marked by notable achievements. He currently serves as the chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic and the Orchestre de Paris, positions he plans to relinquish upon assuming leadership in Chicago and Amsterdam.

The selection of Mäkelä signifies a generational shift for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, succeeding the esteemed maestro Riccardo Muti. With a focus on revitalization and outreach, Mäkelä aims to attract diverse audiences to classical music, fostering inclusivity and innovation.

In addition to leading the orchestra, Mäkelä is committed to expanding its repertoire and embracing contemporary voices. He envisions a dynamic program featuring both renowned masterpieces and lesser-known gems, alongside a strong emphasis on commissioning new works.

Moreover, Mäkelä is poised to address diversity within the orchestra, advocating for increased representation of women and people of color. With a significant number of vacancies, he views this as an opportunity for meaningful change, pledging to actively participate in auditions and recruitment efforts.

Mäkelä draws inspiration from esteemed conductors like Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kirill Petrenko, admiring their innovative approaches to music. As he embarks on this new chapter with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mäkelä’s passion for exploration and collaboration promises to usher in a transformative era for the renowned ensemble.

His upcoming performances in Chicago serve as a testament to his enduring commitment to music and his enthusiasm for embracing new challenges. Undeterred by the city’s renowned winter weather, Mäkelä looks forward to immersing himself in its vibrant cultural landscape.

With Klaus Mäkelä at the helm, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra embarks on an exciting journey of artistic renewal and cultural enrichment, reaffirming its status as a beacon of excellence in the world of classical music.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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