“Make no little plans” was the advice of Daniel Burnham, the man who, in 1903, designed and built the original Orchestra Hall, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Whatever other reservations can be voiced about the current management of the orchestra, even the flinty Chicago architect couldn’t accuse the powers that be of taking timid half-measures in the recent renovation of the hall. Three years and $110 million in the making, the celebrated orchestra’s new, greatly expanded digs at 220 South Michigan Avenue were rededicated in October as Symphony Center.

The extensive renovation comes at, as the Chinese say, interesting times for the fortunes of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The tenure of Daniel Barenboim as the orchestra’s music director—launched in 1991 with starry, well-received events such as the clever, semi-staged performances of Mozart operas—has now settled into a kind of...

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