Ken-David Masur is the new principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago | Culture | Chicago Reader

Ken-David Masur is the new principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago 

If the name sounds familiar, it's because his father, Kurt, was a regular guest conductor of the CSO.

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click to enlarge Ken-David Masur and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago

Ken-David Masur and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago

Todd Rosenberg

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced Thursday that Ken-David Masur has been named principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the CSO's century-old, 90-member training ensemble for professional musicians.

It was good news that omitted a major detail, one that likely had more than a few people thinking, "Wait—Masur?"

The announcement didn't go there, but Ken-David is the son of the legendary late conductor Kurt Masur, who capped a career in his native Germany with significant stints as music director at the New York Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, and the Orchestre National de France, and who was a frequent guest conductor with the CSO. Ken-David's mother is soprano Tomoko Sakurai.

Masur Jr. has his own impressive credentials: he's the newly appointed music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, is just finishing a run as associate conductor at the Boston Symphony, and has guest conducted with both the CSO (at Ravinia last summer) and the Civic Orchestra. He no doubt got the job with his own laurels. But it can't hurt that he's been steeped in the best of classical music from the cradle.

And, while Kurt Masur was known to be an imposing, old-school authoritarian, it sounds like Masur 2.0 will be something else. CSO education director Jonathan McCormick notes in the announcement that "since his podium debut in 2016/2017 Maestro Masur has made an overwhelmingly positive impression on the entire Civic Orchestra family." He cites his "musicianship," "generous spirit," and "effectiveness as an educator and mentor."


Ken-David Masur's concerts here next season (all with free public tickets) will include the Civic Orchestra's Centennial Celebration Benefit, rescheduled during the recent CSO musicians' strike; it's now set for March 1, 2020. The rest of the 2019/2020 season will be announced in August.  v

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