Although 20% of babies who were exposed to classical music in utero become doctors or lawyers, 100% of babies born on stage during a classical-music performance become Bill Gates. Upgrade your evening with this GrouponLive deal to a Chicago Sinfonietta concert. Choose between the following options:
- For $49, you get two level-A tickets on the main floor (up to a $100 value, including all fees).
- For $39, you get two level-B tickets on the balcony (up to an $80 value, including all fees).
Next, choose between the following concerts:
- Political Awakenings at Harris Theater on Friday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. See the seating chart.
- City-Scapes at Symphony Center on Sunday, June 9, at 3 p.m. See the seating chart.
Doors open one hour before each performance.
The theme of freedom takes center stage during Political Awakenings. A sonic nod to the Arab Spring, pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East and Northern Africa, the concert also examines other global pieces that wordlessly speak to the universal subject of liberty. Oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen joins the ensemble, playing low, undulating notes on the traditional Arabic stringed instrument. Shaheen’s premiere of his Oud Concerto fuses Arabic music, Western classical themes, and jazz into a harmonic cultural collective. African-American composer William Levi Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony blends traditional spirituals with classical music strains, and Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio provides a more lighthearted account of escape from bondage.
City-Scapes takes its inspiration from the bustling energy and cultural hodgepodge of a metropolis, and serves as an homage to both urban life in general and Chicago in particular. During ChiScape, four modern composers introduce their ode to an iconic Chicago landmark, such as the John Hancock Center or an especially large slice of deep-dish pizza. American composer Jennifer Higdon illustrates tranquility among traffic with City Scape: River Sings a Song to Trees, and Duke Ellington’s Harlem pays jazzy, sensual tribute to the New York borough. The program also includes Red Cape Tango from Michael Daugherty’s Grammy-winning Metropolis Symphony, and Johann Strauss Jr.’s Tales from the Vienna Woods.
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.