Chicago Sinfonietta: celebrating thirty years of founder’s vision of diverse concerts

Posted on: May 16, 2018

“More than three decades ago, a conductor I’d admired from afar called to ask if we could get together over lunch,” writes Howard Reich in Wednesday’s (5/16) Chicago Tribune. “Paul Freeman dreamed of creating an ensemble that would bring sorely needed diversity to our concert life. ‘Chicago does not yet have an ensemble comparable to what the Chicago Sinfonietta is going to be,’ Freeman told me…. He was determined to bring his vision to Chicago. In October 1987 he did just that…. Freeman died in 2015 … but the import of what he created was palpably clear Monday night in Orchestra Hall [at] the finale of its 30th season…. Most inspiring by far was the work of 15-year-old cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, who played alongside violinist Melissa White in Saint-Saens’ ‘La Muse et le Poete’ … with sinfonietta assistant conductor Kellen Gray leading the orchestra.… The sinfonietta [and] the Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir [and] music director Mei-Ann Chen opened the program [with] the gospel fervor of Eugene Butler’s ‘How Excellent is Thy Name.’ … The spectacle of so many performers crowding the stage underscored the many ways in which the sinfonietta has altered our expectations of what a symphonic ensemble can attempt. Precisely Paul Freeman’s dream.”

Posted May 16, 2018

Pictured: Cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, 15, performs with the Chicago Sinfonietta at Orchestra Hall, on May 14, 2018. Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune