Chicago Sinfonietta to perform musical tribute to MLK

  • The Chicago Sinfonietta will perform concerts Sunday in Naperville and Monday in Chicago to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

    The Chicago Sinfonietta will perform concerts Sunday in Naperville and Monday in Chicago to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Courtesy Chicago Sinfonietta

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted1/17/2020 6:00 AM

A musical tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will feature new renditions of familiar standards, celebrated performers and an audience participation singalong when the Chicago Sinfonietta takes the stage at Naperville's Wentz Concert Hall.

The Sinfonietta is teaming for the ninth year with North Central College on Sunday, Jan. 19, to deliver the concert, an annual homage to the slain civil rights leader.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Founded at what was then Rosary College in River Forest, the orchestra moved to its new home at the Naperville college in 2011, said Chicago Sinfonietta CEO Jim Hirsch.

"Sinfonietta has been in existence for 32 years," he said. "When Wentz first opened, we were invited by Brian Lynch (North Central's fine arts director) to come and perform there. We absolutely fell in love with the venue and we fell in love with the audience there."

Lynch said acoustics consultant Rich Talaske wanted to show off the then-new hall's sound quality with an accomplished, distinctive performance and Chicago Sinfonietta fit the bill.

"It's a classical orchestra, but they did things a little bit differently," Lynch said. "You name it, they do it. The Sinfonietta wanted a suburban home. They wanted to make a change."

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Since then, the Chicago Sinfonietta has performed five concerts a year at Wentz. Four of those, Hirsch said, are produced solely by the Sinfonietta organization while the annual Martin Luther King tribute concert is produced in partnership with the college, sharing marketing and production efforts.

Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Mei-Ann Chen will help lead the group's musical tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday, Jan. 19, at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville.
Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Mei-Ann Chen will help lead the group's musical tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday, Jan. 19, at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville. - Courtesy Chris Ocken Photography

Lynch said North Central's long-term agreement with Chicago Sinfonietta is a partnership that enriches both parties.

"We get a chance to present a very diverse program here in Naperville," Lynch said.

The performance will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at Symphony Center in Chicago.

Highlights include a performance of the Patty Griffin contemporary folk hit "Up to the Mountain."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Guest conductor Jherrard Hardeman and composer Michelle Isaac created a special arrangement of the song.

"It's never been performed by a full symphony orchestra before," Hirsch said.

The piece will be conducted by assistant conductor Jonathan Rush, who will be joined in the performance by his sister, vocalist Kymberli Joye, a semifinalist on TV's "The Voice."

Hardeman will conduct "Deep River" and the Waubonsie Valley High School Mosaic Choir will sing during the performance of "The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed."

"I think that's going to be one of the most emotionally charged pieces," Hirsch said. "The first half of the concert ends with the Grammy-winning 'Glory' composed by John Legend and Common."

The evening will continue with a performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, known as the Resurrection Symphony, accompanied by the North Central College and Roosevelt University choirs.

"It's one of Mahler's most well-known symphonies," Hirsch said. "The concert will end with the audience invited to stand and sing 'We Shall Overcome.'"

That piece will be led by Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Mei-Ann Chen, he said.

"Maestro Chen is amazing," Hirsch said. "It's a very complicated concert to put together. I feel confident saying I think people will be blown away by this concert."

• • •

MLK Tribute Concert

Who: Chicago Sinfonietta

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19

Where: North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville

Tickets: $49-$62

Info: northcentralcollege.edu/show and (630) 637-7469

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