How the Chicago Symphony’s free community concerts benefit audiences—and musicians

Posted on: January 27, 2022

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Riccardo Muti at Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn, October 2016. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

“The Chicago Symphony Orchestra returns to Woodlawn Friday for the first time since 2016, performing selections by Vivaldi and Handel for free,” writes Maxwell Evans in Wednesday’s (1/26) Book Club Chicago. “The ‘community concert’ will be held … at Apostolic Church of God…. The orchestra plays similar concerts Thursday and Saturday at the Symphony Center…. The Woodlawn concert ‘is important, because not everyone can find the time to squeeze in their busy schedules and come Downtown to hear the orchestra,’ … assistant concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu said. ‘You get a different energy.’ … Friday’s program features [Vivaldi’s] Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor and Flute Concerto in G Minor [and] Handel’s ‘Water Music Suite No. 1.’… The orchestra also performed … a free community concert Jan. 14 … in Cicero. Community performances like [these] can have a lasting impact on attendees, Yu said. The church’s youth orchestra saw a boost in participation after the 2016 concert … The benefit of community concerts is mutual… ‘I remember how exciting it was to play in 2016—how audience members just applauded right after we played a few notes…. I don’t think there’s a right way’ to enjoy the symphony, Yu said.”