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Press Releases

Chicago Sinfonietta announces Revelry! Celebrating community

June 10, 2021 | By Grant Communications
Chicago Sinfonietta announces
Celebrating community
Accessibility key focal point as "Pay What You Can" pilot program is launched for 2021-22 season
34th Season kicks off with Ravinia Festival performance
World Premiere
by Project Inclusion Composer Freeman Fellow Michelle Isaac
Four Chicago Premieres
(including one by Artist in Residence Kathryn Bostic)
Ensemble’s first-ever locally based "World Tour" in partnership with city consulates will feature series of performances throughout season
Continuation of expanded online offerings
Chicago, IL - Chicago Sinfonietta revealed its 34th season today in a joint announcement by Chief Executive Officer Blake-Anthony Johnson and Music Director Mei-Ann Chen.
“We are thrilled about the various programming, both familiar and new, this season holds," announced Mr. Johnson. As we enter our 34th season, Chicago Sinfonietta highlights the vast array of inspiration to be found in classical music. This inspiration, culled from cultures and traditions around the world, derives from a more locally centered destination: the communities that together make up the rich tapestry of our own Chicago community.
"Rivaling our desire to share the joy of live music is ensuring the safety of the community. We continue to monitor the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and have carefully designed safety precautions for our events and activities which fall in compliance with Illinois State health regulations, guidelines by the Mayor of Chicago, and the advice of the CDC for the continuing health and safety of the public and the Sinfonietta's musicians and staff.
"Accessibility is a cornerstone of our mission and we plan to build on our successful pivot to virtual programming that included nearly 40 countries joining us right here in Chicago. As the world continues to make a comeback from the pandemic, we are pleased to continue to offer, in addition to our live events, a variety of online offerings - not only to our audiences throughout the Chicago area, but to our growing audiences worldwide. We are also thrilled to offer another Chicago Sinfonietta first: "Pay What You Can" ticket pilot program, a natural evolution of our mission.
"We are excited to debut our season with a return to the Ravinia Festival, and to continue the work begun last season with the introduction of Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Composer Freeman Fellowship program, presenting the first world premiere from this initiative. We are also excited to present the Chicago premiere through our Artist in Residence program. This residency, also introduced last season, focuses on evolving the relationship between audience and artist, as well as within the Sinfonietta community itself, strongly connects us to the current happenings of today.
“This season, Chicago Sinfonietta will again offer three subscription series concerts. We proudly continue to champion works by composers of color, with spirited and engaging pieces with an emphasis on tradition and folk music highlighted on every concert, reinforcing the connections between cultures.”
Maestra Chen stated, "Revelry!, our 34th season, centers on offering our audiences deeper insights into the joy of music via musical viewpoints from various world cultures from yesteryear through today. Our programs present artistic collaborations, beginning with our season kickoff at Ravinia Festival, and merging various genres, particularly dance, with the inspirational pieces offered in this season.
"We again present a premiere on each of our season subscription concerts, including two by composers of color and one world premiere by our Project Inclusion Freeman Composing Fellow, Michelle Isaac, as well as a Chicago premiere by our Artist in Residence, Kathryn Bostic. In another Chicago Sinfonietta first, we continue to redefine the orchestral experience and celebrate the beauty of music as infused and inspired by the unique characteristics of various cultures, through our first "World Tour" - a series of performances in partnership with consulates throughout Chicago."
Tessa Lark, violin; Will Liverman, baritone; Melissa White, violin;
Michelle Isaac, composer; Kathryn Bostic, composer; Derrick Spiva, Jr., composer
Known for its deep community relationships, Chicago Sinfonietta celebrates the artistic traditions to be found in the many cultures that comprise the Chicagoland community and beyond. A season-long fete of our diverse community and the music we create together, exploring the themes of folk music, connections and culture, the 2021-22 season opens with a dynamic season preview at Ravinia Festival, followed by three concerts highlighting community connections through works based in the tradition of folk music. The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert presents an uplifting space to connect with each other and experience engaging works by respected composers. The season ending concert offers a visionary collaboration of artistic genres, reinforced by the season-long "world-tour" series presented in collaboration with Chicago consulates.
Numerous online events, including pre-concert commentary and artist interviews, Chicago Sinfonietta’s Resident’s Orchestrate program, and videos, offer numerous opportunities to explore and engage with classical music.
Ravinia: Sounds of Dance: Season Preview
Chicago Sinfonietta
Mei-Ann Chen, Music Director
September 8, 2021, at 8:00 PM, Pavilion
Danse Négre from African Suite, Op. 35, No. 4
An der schönen blauen Donau (On the Beautiful Blue Danube)
Grande valse brillante in E-flat major, Op. 18
Florence PRICE (arr. William Grant Still)
Dances in the Canebrakes
Bed ri ch SMETANA
Ma Vlast, Vitava (The Maldau)
Antonín DVORÁK
Slavonic Dances Op. 46, No. 8
Conga del Fuego Nuevo
Tickets will be sold via and are available starting July 21.
Preview the coming season with a performance spanning three centuries of sound and dance featuring Chicago Sinfonietta signature works. English composer Samuel Coleridge -Taylor’s stirring Danse Négre from African Suite, Op. 35 highlights the African influence in Great Britain during the 19th century, juxtaposed against the German influence heard in Johann Strauss II's On the Beautiful Blue Danube, one of two Chicago Sinfonietta signature works on this concert. Polish composer Frederic Chopin’s first published waltz, the Grande valse brillante in E-flat major, Op. 18, arranged by Stravinsky for Sergei Diaghilev’s 1909 ballet Les Sylphides, introduce the world of ballet, while another Sinfonietta signature work, Florence Price’s buoyant, lyrical Dances in the Canebrakes from 1953, reintroduces African influences from a 20th century American composer’s point of view. Traditional folk tunes inspire the next two works: Bedrich Smetana’s tune in Vitava (The Maldau) is derived from an old Czech folk song, Kocka leze dírou ("The Cat Crawls Through the Hole") while music in the style of a fiery Bohemian dance is spotlighted in Dvorak’s popular, fiery Slavonic Dances Op. 46, No. 8. Closing out the concert is a dance-inspired work accompanied by an audience engagement activity, Arturo Márquez’s Conga del Fuego Nuevo (New Fire).
"New Folk"
Chicago Sinfonietta
Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
September 18, 2021, at 8:00 PM, Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville
September 20, 2021, at 7:30 PM, Symphony Center, Chicago
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
Michael TORKE
SKY (Violin Concerto) Chicago Premiere
I. Lively; II. Wistful; III. Spirited
Tessa Lark, violin
William DAWSON
Negro Folk Symphony
I.The Bond of Africa; II. Hope in the Night;
III. O, Le’ Me Shine, Shine Like a Morning Star!
Chicago Sinfonietta’s 34th season presents a dynamic concert drawing on the traditions, passions, and deep connections of community through works grounded in folk music. Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, with its rhythmic spontaneity and enticing expression of folk music opens the concert, followed by American composer Michael Torke’s SKY , an energetic fusion inspired by Irish reel and American bluegrass. Guest violinist Tessa Lark solos, lending compelling energy and the lush sounds of her instrument. A work by American composer William Dawson, who studied at Chicago Musical College, brings the evening to a close. Chicago Sinfonietta performs Negro Folk Symphony, an exciting and dramatic signature piece informed by traditional spirituals.
Annual MLK Tribute Concert: "Joie de Vivre"
Chicago Sinfonietta
Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
January 16, 2022, at 3:00 PM, Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville
January 17, 2022, at 7:30 PM, Symphony Center, Chicago
Florence PRICE
Ethiopia's Shadow in America
I.The Arrival of the Negro in America when first brought here as a slave – (Introduction and Allegretto); II. His Resignation and Faith – (Andante);
 III. His Adaptation – (Allegro) – A fusion of his native and acquired impulses.
Song of the Dark Virgin
Will Liverman, baritone
Selections from ELIJAH
No. 14 "Draw, near all ye people - Lord God of Abraham"
No. 17 "Is Not His Word Like a Fire"
No. 37 "For the Mountains Shall Depart"
Soul Force (The Dream Unfinished) Chicago Premiere
Kathryn BOSTIC
The Great Migration Chicago Premiere
I.The Great Migration; II. The Hill Illumined; III. Wylie Avenue;
     IV. The Oracle of Aunt Ester; V. Exalted Roads of Truth and Triumph
Will Liverman, narrator
Unity, community, and history are at the forefront of Chicago Sinfonietta’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute celebrationOpening the concert are three Florence Price works - Ethiopia’s Shadow in America, Son of the Dark Virgin, and Night, sung by renowned baritone Will Liverman. Selections from Felix Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH are next, followed by two Chicago premieres: Jesse Montgomery’s Soul Force, and Artist in Residence Kathryn Bostic’s work The Great Migration with baritone Will Liverman returning as narrator. The popular concert closes with an uplifting traditional audience participation piece.
"Limitless Horizons"
Chicago Sinfonietta
Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
May 14, 2022, at 8:00 PM at Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville
May 16, 2022, at 7:30 PM at Symphony Center, Chicago
Conga del Fuego Nuevo (Conga of the New Fire)
Derrick SPIVA Jr.
To be a Horizon Chicago Premiere
Michelle ISAAC
Chicago Sinfonietta Commission; World Premiere
Grande valse brillante in E-Flat, No. 1, Op. 18
CHEN Gang / HE Zhanhao
Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto
Melissa White, violin
A ntonín DVORÁK
Slavonic Dance, Op. 46 No. 8
Fusing art forms into a collaborative, joyful performance that offers a new perspective is just one thing that Chicago Sinfonietta is renowned for, and it’s on full-display in this season-ending concert complete with local dancers from CLINARD DANCE. This concert is a thrilling, multi-genre adventure, and features such works as Arturo Marquez’s Congo del Fuego Nuevo ( Congo of the New Fire), and the Chicago premiere of Derrick Spiva Jr.’s multi-faceted To be a Horizon, a vigorous and persuasive work merging instruments and themes from numerous cultures, and part three of his larger work, Prisms, Cycles, and Leap s. Project Inclusion Composing Freeman Fellow Michelle Isaac’s Chicago Sinfonietta world premiere commission connects audiences to music in a beautiful and novel way. The energy of the concert changes with the heart stirring, romantic Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto, co-composed by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, an orchestral adaptation of the Chinese ancient legend featuring frequent Chicago Sinfonietta collaborator, violinist Melissa White. The concert closes with Dvorák's Slavonic Dance, Op. 46, No. 8 – a favorite of Sinfonietta’s late founder, Mu sic Director Paul Freeman, and a work he performed with both Chicago Sinfonietta and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra as Music Director and Chief Conductor.
"Chicago Sinfonietta World Tour 2021-22"
Performances throughout fall 2021 and spring 2022
Chicago Sinfonietta's first-ever locally based "World Tour" in partnership with city consulates will feature a series of performances.
Building on the success of the 2020-21 season’s expanded virtual presence with online concerts streamed to 40 plus countries, this season the Sinfonietta will launch a “global but local” World Tour of Chicago Consulates. Through the "Chicago Sinfonietta World Tour 2021-22" we continue to redefine the orchestra experience as audiences are invited to experience Chicago's rich artistic landscape in an innovative “Around the World" series of ensemble performances held throughout city consulates. World Tour dates and programs to be announced in late summer.
Details on the 2021-22 season can be found on Chicago Sinfonietta's website here.

- New Pilot Program
As a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, making classical music accessible to all and creating community through bold symphonic experiences is a central part of Chicago Sinfonietta's mission. In keeping with this goal, the Sinfonietta is launching a pilot Pay What You Can (PWYC) program for the 2021- 22 season. Patrons can pay what they choose for a concert ticket, with prices starting at $5.
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 21st century orchestra 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 to its local engagement, the organization’s commitment to parity and diversity for all is ubiquitous in its myriad education and community programs. Amongst them: Artist in Residence - now in its second season, presents a composer of color who works in various community programs and creates for Chicago Sinfonietta a commissioned world premiere; 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 Chicago Sinfonietta’s Residents Orchestrate Project, 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.
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Press Contact:
Laura Grant, Grant Communications




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