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.
Founded in 1997 by inventive Chicago artist Sean Graney, The Hypocrites curates unorthodox theatrical endeavors with inimitable panache and an underlying emotional vulnerability. Praised by the Chicago Sun-Times for its propensity to “never do things the expected way,” The Hypocrites have applied its unconventional approach to classic texts such as The Threepenny Opera, Frankenstein, and Kafka's The Trial. Throughout the years, these productions have earned the company a trophy case of Joseph Jefferson citations, as well as an After Dark Award and a letter of recommendation from Shakespeare’s great-great-great-great grandfather.
Occupying a building that sprang up at the turn of the 20th century, the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) somehow manages to cram Ireland into one of Chicago’s city blocks. Work from Irish artists hangs in the building’s art gallery, books from Irish authors fill its library, Irish plays light up its 658-seat theater, and Irish food and drinks delight the crowd on the main floor at the Fifth Province Pub. The IAHC also has a knowledgeable staff of instructors, who teach classes on everything from Irish dance and music to Irish language and genealogy.
A 15-year veteran of the Chicago theater community, Lauren Wolf returned to the Second City after recording her debut album All My Secrets in LA in 2011. Backed by a talented band—including Josh Groban’s guitarist Ricky Z—the singer and single mother has graced the stage at The House of Blues, Hard Rock Cafe, and Mayne Stage, drawing comparisons to Janis Joplin for her powerful pipes. Lauren soulfully croons lyrics inspired by her personal struggles and unfinished macramé projects set to upbeat rhythms influenced by the music of the '60s, '70s, and '80s.
During the main event, southpaw David Diaz, former WBC world lightweight champion, will dispute the finer points of pugilistic philosophy in a 10-round debate with “Red Hot” Robert Frankel. Diaz, a Chicago native, won the national Golden Gloves three times, and currently holds a professional record of 35-3-1, winning 17 fights by KO. For the co-main event, light heavyweight Andrzej "The Polish Prince" Fonfara (15-2, 6 KO's) will take on Adam Jaco (10-3, 4 KO's). To pique the audience’s appetite for cobra-fast jabs, dancerly footwork, devastating star punches, and the sweet music of pummeled human meat, undefeated Russian welterweight Anton Novikov (18-0) and California’s Dashon Johnson (11-3-3) will test the adhesive on each others’ hairpieces for eight rounds. Junior welterweights Aslanbek Kozaev (13-0) and Hector Alatorre (16-13-0) will also battle. Doors open at 7 p.m., fighters touch gloves at 8 p.m., and the judges begin a slow waltz at 11 p.m., signaling the end of the evening’s festivities.