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Press Releases

Annual MLK Tribute Concert pays tribute to King legacy Beloved annual tradition goes digital

March 4, 2021 | By Grant Communicatons



Joel Thompson composer
  Musicians Joel Thompson; Ifetayo Ali-Landing; Jeff Scott; Mei-Ann Chen; Antoine T. Clark

Chicago, IL - Coming up Sunday, March 28, 2021 online, Chicago Sinfonietta presents its annual MLK Tribute Concert featuring selected works by American composers that celebrate the advancement being made in the march for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Joining Music Director Mei-Ann Chen with podium duties will be Antoine T. Clark , Chicago Sinfonietta's 2020-21 Assistant Conductor and a former Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellow.

Offering three works by African American composers, at the center the concert are two works by young, contemporary composers: the world premiere of the Sinfonietta's commissioned work by composer Joel Thompson , breathe/burn: an elegy, and Sinfonietta of Dreams by Jeff Scott . Officially titled breathe/burn: an elegy for solo violoncello and orchestra, the composer describes the work as "an exploration of the liminal space between grief and rage in response to the tragedies afflicting the Black community in 2020." T he work is dedicated "in memory of Breonna Taylor" a phrase that serves as a reminder of the importance of the annual concert in bringing community together. Appearing as soloist is Chicago native cellist cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, in a continuation of the Sinfonietta's tradition of inviting local artists to collaborate onstage each season. The commission is followed by Mr. Scott's Sinfonietta of Dreams, a piece that reinforces the positive inspiration of Dr. King’s work and is based on his famous “I Have A Dream Speech” given in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on November 27, 1962.

This year, the concert takes on further significance with its date of March 28. March 25 marks the 55 th anniversary of King’s 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 in support of voting rights.

William Grant Still’s orchestral arrangement of Florence Price’s piano work, Dances in the Canebrakes, is the third work by an African American composer and the concert opening piece. A Chicago Sinfonietta signature, Dances kicks of the celebration with a joyful note.

The Sinfonietta closes the online concert with a Chicago Sinfonietta tradition: We Shall Overcome, where online audiences are invited to join in unison in a spirit of hope and resilience.

"The Arc" is the second concert in Chicago Sinfonietta's 2020-21 online season. Details on the season closing concert can be found on the website.


Chicago Sinfonietta

Sunday, March 28, 2021

3:00 PM CDT online event

"The Arc" annual MLK Tribute Concert


FLORENCE PRICE Dances in the Canebrakes

  1. Nimble Feet
  2. Tropical Noon

 III. Silk Hat and Walking Cane

JOEL THOMPSON breathe/burn: an elegy (World Premiere, Chicago Sinfonietta Commission*)

JEFF SCOTT Sinfonietta of Dreams

  1. Prayer
  2. Hope

Adapted by Hamilton, Horton, and Seeger (arr. Roy Ringwald)

We Shall Overcome


Mei-Ann Chen, conductor

Antoine T. Clark, guest conductor

Joel Thompson, composer

Ifetayo Ali-Landing, cello

* breathe/burn: an elegy for solo violoncello and orchestra is a co- commissioned by Chicago Sinfonietta and New Haven Symphony Orchestra. The world premiere is conducted by Antoine T. Clark, Chicago Sinfonietta's 2020-21 season Assistant Conductor.



Chicago Sinfonietta Membership, a new flexible subscription program. Call the Box Office at (312) 284-1554, email, or order online at

Choose any number of virtual concerts to attend and tune in for exclusive video content throughout the season. Chicago Sinfonietta proudly presents through its membership various offering ranging from interactive events to online classes taught by guest artists.

Tickets orders may be placed by phone or online. One week prior to the virtual concert premiere date, patrons will receive a customized access link via email. Each concert will be made available for a 24-hour period.


American conductor Antoine Clark is Chicago Sinfonietta’s 2020-21 Assistant Conductor. More about this conductor can be found here . For more on composer Joel Thompson, click here . Learn more about Chicago cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing here.


Groundbreaking. Dynamic. Innovative. An acclaimed cultural leader and a powerful champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, the award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta was founded in 1987 by the late Maestro Paul Freeman to address diversity in orchestras. Dedicated to changing the face of classical music, and making classical music accessible to everyone, what began as a mission to represent the city of Chicago has evolved into an international position at the forefront of progressive change in the arts. Led by international conductor and Music Director Maestra Mei-Ann Chen since 2011, today Chicago Sinfonietta is a pioneering organization and positive influencer in the orchestral world, renowned for its defiantly different outlook, innovative and collaborative programming, and artistry of the highest caliber. The ensemble's success has been recognized with numerous industry honors, including a 2020 League of American Orchestras Catalyst Award for Institutional Development and Anti-racism Training, a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions - the "genius award" for non-profit organizations, an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, and a First Place Award for Programming of Contemporary Music.

Celebrated for its daring, cutting-edge programs ranging from its popular subscription concert series with guests of national and local renown, the organization's commitment to parity and diversity for all is ubiquitous in its myriad education and community programs. Amongst them: Audience Matters , targeting 4th - 6th grade students in partnership with more than 23 CPS schools and nine Aurora schools; Student Ensembles with Excellence and Diversity ( SEED ) a mentoring program for talented high school musicians; and Residents Orchestrate , re-imagining the role that an orchestra can play in historically underserved Chicago neighborhoods. Its nationally recognized Project Inclusion Fellowships, with training and mentoring of young musicians in the areas of administration, orchestral and ensemble performance, conducting and now composition, is the largest and most successful of its kind. Through the above performances and initiatives, as well as various events, Chicago Sinfonietta continues to expand its mission and strengthen its leadership in the world of classical music, redefining the orchestra experience for today's and future generations.

Download word copy of press release and publicity photos from dropbox here.

 Press Contact:

Laura Grant, Grant Communications






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