The presented program notes are exceptionally engaging through the attention to detail, structure, and content. Each page of the concert program was incredibly intriguing and organised in a way where readers could skim through at ease. What was most appealing and what caught my eye the most was the detailed historical background information regarding each piece. For example, when describing each piece, at the bottom of the page consists of sub-headings which state when the piece was composed, the first performance, instrumentation, and approximate performance time. I thought there was a good balance between background information and musical information in regards to the displayed works performed.


Chicago Symphony’s program notes not only provided readers with facts about each work, but also interpolated articles, signings, and previous performances at the time of the composer’s visit to Chicago at the time.  This section discusses the reception, and the composers praise to the orchestra, all in which are proud moments to reiterate back in the program notes for the readers and audience member’s engagement.


Considering that these program notes are highly detailed in terms of mentioning each composer’s biography, and the background of the piece during its composition stages really helped to develop my understanding of what I am listening to, and listening for. In addition, the notes would add poems in which certain pieces were inspired by, use direct quotations from the composers themselves, and also state the programmatic elements of the works giving listeners clues and/or certain references when hearing distinct sounds throughout the performance. To further add, the historical and musical context was mentioned to enhance the listeners’ overall experience. Chicago symphony’s program notes, I felt, were easy to follow and could be interpreted well for the individual with no prior musical knowledge. Through the detailed description of the pieces, I believe, could further stimulate thought which could then leave audience members with an enjoyable experience after leaving the concert hall.


Link to Program Notes:



  1. Muti, Ricardo. 125 Moments: 014 Sir Edward Elgar.  Chicago: Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Sounds and Stories), 2015. Accessed May 3, 2017.
  2. Scaife Nigel. Writing Program Notes. London: ABRSM, 2001. Accessed May 1, 2017.