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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is considered among the best in the world; a legacy of the late maestro Sir Georg Solti, who captured a record-breaking 31 Grammy awards for his CSO recordings and showcased the orchestra at other major musical capitals during frequent overseas tours. Current musical director Riccardo Muti has further entrenched its international reputation. The symphony's schedule includes regular visits from internationally known guest artists, and although the repertoire has been expanded to include more modern works, crowd-pleasing favorites by Beethoven or Brahms are performed regularly as well.

Like many other orchestras around the country, the CSO has diversified its programming to attract younger audiences. The "Symphony Center Presents" series has included some of the top jazz, world beat, Latin, and cabaret artists in the world. Although concerts sell out when there's a high-profile performer, good seats sometimes become available on the day of the show, turned in by subscribers who can't make it. Call Symphony Center, or stop by the box office to check availability.

Summertime visitors have an opportunity to hear a CSO performance at the delightful Ravinia Festival (tel. 847/266-5100), an outdoor venue in suburban Highland Park, led by music director James Conlon.