CSO takes to airwaves, and issuing recordings
In a major announcement today, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association said that the orchestra will return to weekly radio broadcasts on WFMT-FM, 98.7 and that the CSO has founded its own record label. The label, known as CSO Resound, will issue compact discs and digital downloads of live CSO concerts available from iTunes and the CSO website. The first release will be Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with principal conductor Bernard Haitink and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung from last October. The recording will be available in early 2007, but the exact date and price of the release was not specified. BP's gift of $3.4 million will fund the radio broadcasts, and initiatives for touring and education, and the Boeing Company donated funds for CSO Resound.
The CSO has not been heard on the airwaves since 2001 due to a lack of funding and how much musicians would be compensated. It was not disclosed how much the CSO musicians will be paid for the broadcasts. The WFMT broadcasts will likely begin in March, 2007 according to Steve Robinson, senior vice president for radio at WFMT. "They will not be complete concert broadcasts," he elaborated, saying that the shows would last two hours and consist of works drawn from various concerts and then organized around a theme. These broadcasts will replace WFMT's current Chicago Symphony Retrospectives show and will be called the BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcast Series, reflecting the sponsor's $3.4 million gift. Through WFMT, the broadcasts will be heard in more than 160 broadcast markets, said a statement released by the CSO. The high costs of recording American orchestras have driven commercial labels away from those ensembles in the past few years. A few symphonies have formed their own labels to fill the void, most notably the London Symphony Orchestra's LSO Live and the San Francisco Symphony's self-named label. The New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic recently formed partnerships with classical-world heavyweight label Deutsche Grammophon to release CDs and downloadable versions of their live concerts, as well. Former music director Daniel Barenboim recorded on the Warner Classics label during his CSO tenure, but his orchestral recordings were exclusively with the Berlin Staatsoper, never with the CSO.