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Chicago Symphony Orchestra Names Klaus Mäkelä as Next Music Director

At the start of the 2027/28 season, Mäkelä will become Chicago's eleventh Music Director in its 133-year history


Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä will begin an initial five-year tenure as Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Zell Music Director in September 2027. In this role, he will conduct the orchestra for a minimum of 14 weeks per season — including ten weeks of subscription and other concerts in and around Chicago, plus four weeks of domestic and international tours.

Mäkelä will step into the role after a term serving as the Zell Music Director Designate, in which he will lead two weeks of subscription concerts in the 2024/25 season, with featured repertoire including Mahler’s Third Symphony and Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, with CSO Artist-in-Residence Daniil Trifonov as soloist. He will make his podium debut at the Ravinia Festival, the CSO’s summer home, in summer 2026.

“I am honored to have been chosen as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and inspired to embark on this journey with an orchestra that combines such brilliance, power, and passion," Mäkelä said. "I look forward to getting to know the musicians more over the coming years, and am grateful for the time this allows for us to establish and deepen our relationship, in preparation for what is a major and exciting commitment.”

Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä launched his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic in 2020 and as the Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris the following year. In 2022, he was appointed Artistic Partner of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, where he will assume the title of Chief Conductor in September 2027, coinciding with his Chicago appointment.  He has been an exclusive Decca Classics artist since 2021 when he became the first conductor signed by the label in more than four decades, and only the third to date.

Previous guest engagements include performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and London Philharmonic Orchestra,

In Chicago, Mäkelä follows in the footsteps of past music director Riccardo Muti. The CSO enjoys an ongoing artistic partnership with Muti, who now holds the title of Music Director Emeritus for Life.

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