Obituary: Paul Freeman, Chicago Sinfonietta founder, 79

Posted on: July 23, 2015

“Maestro Paul Freeman, who for 24 years was the Music Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta—a post he held since his founding of the orchestra in 1987—died Tuesday night, July 21,” writes Hedy Weiss in Wednesday’s (7/22) Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman “had been fighting a number of physical challenges over the last few years…. Freeman led more than 100 orchestras in more than 30 countries,” including the Dallas and Detroit symphonies, where he was associate conductor; he held music director and principal guest conductor positions at the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony (Canada), Helsinki Philharmonic, and Opera Theatre of Rochester, New York. “Freeman’s nine-LP series tracing the history of black symphonic composers from 1750 to the present garnered a great deal of attention on the Columbia label in the mid-1970s” and he also made recordings with the London Philharmonic and English Chamber Orchestra. Born in Richmond, Virginia, “Freeman received his Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music and studied on a U.S. Fulbright Grant in Berlin.” In 2005, Freeman was honored by HistoryMakers, a nonprofit committed to preserving and making accessible the personal stories of African Americans. Survivors include his wife, Cornelia, and son, Douglas. A memorial service is being planned in September in Chicago. Since 2011, Mei-Ann Chen has been music director of the Sinfonietta, whose stated mission is to “serve as a national model for inclusiveness and innovation in classical music.”

Posted July 23, 2015