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CSO’s Muti says he hopes to stay here

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads CSO during performance April 2013. | Todd Rosenberg Photography 2013

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the CSO during a performance in April 2013. | Todd Rosenberg Photography 2013

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Updated: July 19, 2013 6:44AM

While no contract has been signed or finalized, Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti told WFMT Radio and the Chicago Sun-Times in an exclusive interview that he hopes to extend his relationship with the CSO after his current five-year term ends in summer 2015.

In an interview broadcast Monday night on WFMT’s “Critical Thinking,” Muti said, “This is the orchestra that I find the natural instrument for me.”

It is customary among major symphony orchestras and opera companies to settle contract renewals at least two years ahead so that an organization can run a full search for a successor.

Georg Solti, in 1986, after 17 seasons leading the CSO, gave five years’ informal notice to the orchestra’s trustees, and his planned departure from the music director’s post in 1991 was announced simultaneously in 1989 with the designation of Daniel Barenboim as his successor. Barenboim, in turn, gave almost 2½ years’ notice in 2004 before completing his third five-year contract in June 2006.

Citing a shared approach to music-making in three seasons of concerts in Chicago, extensive tours and a double Grammy Award-winning recording, Muti said the relationship is “enriching on both sides.” The cooperation and “energy” between them “convinced me that this is the instrument mainly with which to make music in the future for me.”

Europe’s two top orchestras, the philharmonics of Vienna (the ensemble Muti has conducted for more than 40 years) and Berlin have asked him to return for regular engagements, he said. “But I don’t like to regularly conduct so many orchestras. This is the orchestra that I find the natural instrument for me.”

Muti added that “I think as far as the [CSO] is concerned, there is no reason at all to stop this musical relationship.”

“I love this city, my children love this city. When I’m here I feel comfortable.”

Muti did admit that, at 71, he “increasingly feels homesick,” even when in “this fantastic city.”

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