Chicago Sinfonietta’s 30th Anniversary Season Showcases “Full Spectrum of Voices and Identities”

By Angelica Lasala |

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Mei-Ann Chen, music director of the Chicago Sinfonietta (Photo: Chris Ocken)

The Chicago Sinfonietta recently announced its 30th season line-up as well as the launch of its Commissions by Women Composers Project, a season-long effort to close music’s gender equality gap by commissioning, performing, and recording works by women composers.

In August, the Sinfonietta presents “A Birthday Battle of the Bands!,” its 30th anniversary concert in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. The orchestra “faces off” against punk marching band Mucca Pazza to play works by Prokofiev, Rossini, and more. The event is free and open to the public.

The Sinfonietta’s September program premieres two works by women composers, Jessie Montgomery and Sinfonietta’s own principal harpist Faye Seeman. Northern Illinois University’s Steelband and the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre join as featured guests.

The annual Día de los Muertos concert will showcase works by Latin American composers and Mexican folk music, along with a special rendition of Mozart’s Requiem that will get a “Sinfonietta twist.” Guest conductor Hector Guzman, music director of the Plano Symphony Orchestra, leads the Sinfonietta, Roosevelt University Conservatory Choirs, Cuerdas Clásicas, and performance art group NewMoon Chicago.

For its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert in January 2018, the Sinfonietta presents three-time Grammy-nominated work Ask Your Mama, a multimedia reimagining of the Langston Hughes poem by composer Laura Karpman. The performance incorporates spoken word, video, and collected audio, while showcasing a number of diasporic music traditions. Soprano Janai Brugger and jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon join as guest performers.

In May 2018, the Sinfonietta presents “Hear Me Roar,” a collection of works by female composers spanning nearly a century. The performance marks the Chicago premieres of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon’s Dance Card, Mary Kouyoumdjian’s Become Who I Am, and Dora Pejačević’s Symphony in F minor, as well as the world premiere of Reena Esmali’s Avaaz.

To close out the season in May, the Sinfonietta collaborates with the Harlem Quaret and Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir for secular and gospel works alike. Composer James Lee debuts his work Come Unto Me.

For more information about any of these performances, visit the Chicago Sinfonietta’s website.