Chicago Sinfonietta was already markedly different from its counterparts when it played its first notes in 1987. Its founder and conductor Paul Freeman wanted to create a symphony that actually reflected the community in which it existed. The ensemble he formed brought together musicians from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, who interpreted both classical pieces and forgotten compositions from composers of color. His concept proved successful—the symphony toured Europe, played the Kennedy Center twice, and produced 14 albums, all while tunefully demonstrating the universality of music.
Today, Chicago Sinfonietta continues to perform unique programs, and supports music education and professional development opportunities for members of underrepresented communities. Freeman retired from his post at the end of the 2011 season, passing the reins new music director Mei-Ann Chen, but his legacy lives on in the music of performers he helped get started, including classical-music legend Yo-Yo Ma.
The Chicago Actors Studio encourages imagination and emotional exploration as it educates aspiring thespians in the dramatic arts. With affiliates in New York and Los Angeles, the studio welcomes students of all ages and experience to hone their skills through practiced scene study and individual monologues. The 10-week Acting as a Craft class showers a broad curriculum of skills upon actors-in-training, teaching them the nuances of acting onstage, on camera, or on top of a speeding train. Classes cover cold readings, as well as the initial steps toward becoming a master manipulator of voice and movement. Students ready to share their skills can benefit from expert wisdom in the Audition Power class, where instructors teach the tiny tricks necessary to quickly build relationships with scene partners, handle callbacks, and dress appropriately for the role.
Inside Visceral Dance Center’s old brick warehouse on Elston Avenue, dancers prowl, leap, and pirouette their way to fitter frames and flawless technique. Founder and artistic director Nick Pupillo and his agile instructors lead students through steps in myriad dance styles⎯including ballet, contemporary jazz, hip-hop, modern, and movement and improvisation⎯teaching them to dance solo or perfect a waltz with their shadows. Each Visceral Dance Center instructor specializes in one or two methods of dance, and they impart their expertise to students ranging in age from 2.5 years to adulthood during weekly classes. The space also hosts performances by the training center’s progressive-house company, Visceral Dance Chicago, and the Visceral Studio Company, a group of 15 youth dancers from the greater Chicago area.
Peering directly over Wrigley Field's right-center-field wall, 3639 Wrigley Rooftop unites baseball with stunning views of the historic diamond and refreshments. Rather than resorting to such desperate measures as donning a ghillie suit and hiding in the outfield ivy, fans can kick back in comfy stadium-style seats and enjoy the action from high above Sheffield Avenue.
3639 Wrigley Rooftop’s multilevel facility, located between the foul poles, is fully stocked with 40 high-definition TVs. During the game, burgers and brats hit the sweet spot from a loaded menu that also features desserts and soft drinks. An elevator ferries guests among the three levels, and two large, open-air decks and a climate-controlled clubroom help mitigate Chicago's alternating five-minute heat waves and blizzards.
The Great Urban Race is a one-day event pitting teams of two against one another in a race combining physical challenges, scavenger hunts, and puzzles. Up to 700 twosomes will traverse 4 to 8 miles of Toronto terrain on foot and by public transportation as they solve 12 challenging clues in a fun quest to reach the finish line first. Sample clues and challenges from past Great Urban Races include charades, bubble-gum chewing, pig Latin deciphering, bicycle races, and word scrambles, making this race ideal for competitive eaters and cryptographers alike. Teams are encouraged to dress up in matching outfits, and prizes will be awarded for best costume. Prizes are also given for race results, with $300 going to first place, $200 to second place, and $100 to third place. The top 25 teams will qualify for the National Championship in New Orleans in November, with the top three teams receiving free entry. Each participant gets a T-shirt and postrace refreshments of fruit, granola bars, and a run through a Perrier sprinkler. Read over the rules and FAQs for more information.
Hailed by the Chicago Tribune for their “pure tone, clear vowels, and firm blend,” the singers of the Bella Voce chamber choir wrap silken vocal cords around composer George Frideric Handel’s masterful oratorio during a performance of Baroque classicism. The choral ensemble takes on this cornerstone of the Western musical canon with historically accurate gusto, enlisting the string-and-brass accompaniment of period-instrument ensemble The Callipygian Players to recreate Handel’s work as the composer himself may have experienced it. Artistic director Andrew Lewis swings his conductor’s wand with aplomb, casting necromantic spells that raise his predecessor’s spirit from the dead to terrify the chorus into hitting higher notes.