Tuesday October 23 2:09 am

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Chicago Sinfonietta “Dreams” Big With 2018-19 Season Announcement Featuring Regina Carter, Twyla Robinson and More


The 2018-19 season, “Variations on a Dream,” is deeply inspired by Chicago Sinfonietta’s longstanding mission of diversity, unity and equity, interpreting the notion of “the American Dream” through varying individual and cultural perspectives. Along with addressing timely topics such as immigration and civil rights, the season also features an impressive repertoire of seminal masterworks, notable debuts, and plenty of star power, including MacArthur Genius violin virtuoso Regina Carter, soprano Twyla Robinson, and more. The concerts remain at Chicago Sinfonietta’s longtime venues, Symphony Center in Chicago and Wentz Hall at North Central College of Fine Arts in Naperville.

“Music crosses barriers and connects people in unique ways,” says Chen. “Our 2018-19 season explores some of the unusual ways music can portray dreams of many kinds. Dreams to be in a better world, dreams to be where the heart leads, dreams to celebrate life through different perspectives including hard times... Music is a powerful vehicle to transport us to incredible imaginings and amazing possibilities.”

Preceding the season opening concert in late September will be a free performance in Millennium Park on Sept. 5 in partnership with Chicago United. “Chicago Unites,” a celebration of equity and diversity right in Chicago’s backyard, features a unity-focused repertoire ranging from Aaron Copland to John Lennon. The program celebrates the cross-section of Chicago Sinfonietta and Chicago United’s respective 30th and 50th anniversaries and features two dynamic youth ensembles, Musicality and Waubonsie Valley High School Mosaic Choir. Complementing the event is the onsite Unity Village, an exhibition showcasing musical performances engagement activities from local cultural organizations celebrating the city’s Year of Creative Youth.

In the opening program of the 2018/19 season, Chen will join forces with Steep Theatre Company in “I.D.: Images of Diversity,” an exploration of the immigrant experience through a breadth of programming across cultures and centuries. The program culminates with a performance of the epic multimedia work “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” which features seven actors, video, and a score created by composer Peter Boyer.

The season-long multicultural exploration continues with Chicago Sinfonietta’s vibrant November performance, “Sea of Light: Reflections of Diwali.” Featuring a riveting fusion of Western and Indian classical music, this celebration of the Indian festival of Diwali includes a performance by esteemed Sitarist Gaurav Mazumdar, as well the Chicago premiere of “Teen Murti” by composer Reena Esmail. This is the second performance with Chicago Sinfonietta for Esmail, who premiered her topical commission “#MeToo” during the 2017-18 centric concert “Hear Me Roar.”

Chicago Sinfonietta welcomes soprano Twyla Robinson for the fourth concert in the 2018-19 cycle, “In Darkness We Rise: A Concert of Remembrance.” Thoughtfully curated as a concert of love, loss and unyielding hope, the concert’s centerpiece is an immersive interpretation of the wildly popular, underground classical sensation “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” by Henryk Gorecki, for which the concert hall will be transformed using theatrical set and lighting design.

Along with the Gorecki composition, Chicago Sinfonietta explores other significant masterworks throughout the season---ranging from Debussy’s “La Mer” to Hailstork’s “Epitaph of a Man Who Dreamed,” Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” and more--- while still tapping into its trademark brand of innovative programming.

The season will culminate with a dynamic spin on the musical tribute. “SoundSketch,” features Regina Carter’s highly anticipated performance of “Four Sisters,” David Schiff’s love letter to Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin, alongside the popular Elgar composition.

“We are excited to present the 2018-19 season that will feature timely themes, gifted guest artists, new artistic collaborations, and the artistry of Mei-Ann Chen and our musicians,” Hirsch said. “From the opening notes of the Millennium Park concert to the season finale featuring MacArthur Genius Regina Carter, this season will showcase everything that makes Chicago Sinfonietta concerts unique and compelling.”

Other program highlights of note for the 2018-19 season:

● Kedrick Armstrong, Sinfonietta Assistant Conductor, and Kellen Gray, both alumni of Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Conducting Fellowship program, will guest conduct Chicago Sinfonietta’s signature tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. in January. Also included in the annual concert is a performance by former Project Inclusion Orchestral Fellow, violinist Kyle Dickson and spoken word excerpts from Dr. King presented by Kenneth Woods.

● Complementing Chicago Sinfonietta’s concert cycle is its consistent mission toward education, professional development and community outreach programs, including its Project Inclusion fellowship program for emerging conductors and musicians, Audience Matters, and SEED programs, all of which will see heightened initiatives in 2018. Building on the success of its inaugural year, Chicago Sinfonietta’s Residents Orchestrate Project will see increased programming, engagement activities and community outreach initiatives in the city’s underserved neighborhoods.

The schedule for the 2018-19 season is:

September 5, 2018
“Chicago Unites” Millennium Park Concert

September 22 + 24, 2018
“I.D.: Images of Diversity”

November 10 + 12, 2018
“Sea of Light: Reflections on Diwali”

January 20 + 21, 2019
MLK Tribute Concert

March 23 + 25, 2019
“In Darkness We Rise: A Concert of Remembrance”

May 11 + 13, 2019
“SoundSketch: Portraits in Rhythm, Blues & Beyond”

About the Sinfonietta

Now approaching its 31st season, Chicago Sinfonietta continues to push artistic boundaries under the baton of Maestro Mei-Ann Chen and organizational leadership of Jim Hirsch and Courtney Perkins. The orchestra is dedicated to providing an alternative way of hearing, seeing and thinking about a symphony orchestra and promoting diversity, inclusion, racial and cultural equity in the arts. In 2016, Chicago Sinfonietta was the proud recipient of the 2016 Spirit of Innovation Award presented by the Chicago Innovation Awards as well as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (MACEI). The MacArthur award recognizes exceptional organizations that are key contributors in their fields.

Chicago Sinfonietta is grateful to its 2018-19 season supporters including: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, BMO Harris Bank, William Blair & Company, Aon, Exelon, Southwest Airlines, Fairmont Hotel, Hotel Indigo, Paul M. Angell Foundation, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Macy's. Chicago Sinfonietta is also grateful to its concert sponsors, including “Chicago Unites” Lead Sponsor Astellas, Fifth Third Bank, Exelon, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, PWC and Molex. Current media sponsors include ABC7 Chicago, Chicago Magazine and Naperville Magazine.

About Mei-Ann Chen

Innovation, imagination, passion and dynamism are the hallmarks of conductor Mei-Ann Chen. Music Director of the MacArthur Award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011, and Artistic Director & Conductor for the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival since 2016, Ms. Chen is acclaimed for infusing orchestras with energy, enthusiasm, high-level music-making, and galvanizing audiences and communities alike. A sought-after guest conductor, Ms. Chen’s reputation as a compelling communicator has resulted in growing popularity with orchestras globally.

North American guesting credits include appearances with the Symphony Orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Oregon, River Oaks Chamber, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver. Overseas engagements include the symphonies of BBC Scottish, Denmark’s National, Aalborg, Aarhus, and Odense, Sweden’s Gävle, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Malmö, and Norrköping, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw, Norwegian Radio and Trondheim, Finland’s Tampere Philharmonic, Austria’s Grosses Orchester Graz, Germany’s Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, and National Taiwan. Future engagements include debuts with Philharmonic of Denmark’s Copenhagen, Germany’s Würth, Norway’s Oslo, and symphony orchestras of Netherland’s Residentie, Switzerland’s Basel, Turkey’s Bilkent, and multiple returns to Graz and Malmö, among others. Her honors and awards include being named one of Musical America’s 2015 Top 30 Influencers, 2012 Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras, and First Prize Winner of Copenhagen’s 2005 Malko Competition. Ms. Chen also holds the title of Conductor Laureate of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

For more information on the Chicago Sinfonietta, please visit www.chicagosinfonietta.org.