Chicago Sinfonietta ends its concert season with 'Praise and Punk'

Submitted by Natalia Dagenhart
Updated 4/20/2018 8:42 PM
  • "Praise and Punk" concert program will take place on Saturday, May 12, in Naperville and Monday, May 14, in Chicago.

    "Praise and Punk" concert program will take place on Saturday, May 12, in Naperville and Monday, May 14, in Chicago. Courtesy of Chicago Sinfonietta

"Hard work opens doors and shows the world that you are serious about being one of those rare -- and special -- human beings who use the fullness of their talents to do their very best," said a Canadian writer and motivational speaker Robin S. Sharma. Chicago Sinfonietta, "the city's hippest orchestra," has been demonstrating its hard work and devotion to music for thirty years already, and all these years it has been opening doors to people's hearts and souls.

In the celebration of the end of its outstanding 30th anniversary season, this great orchestra prepared a concert program called "Praise and Punk" that will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville and at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 14 at Symphony Center in Chicago.

This concert program is unique as it consists of different musical styles and genres and celebrates the talent of various guest artists. The orchestra itself calls it "a concert mashup," and the audience will experience a full range of emotions in just a couple of hours. Gospel and classical, spirituality and passion, romance and battle -- "Praise and Punk" has it all. This epic season finale promises to be unforgettable and will unite people with various musical tastes.

Under the baton of Maestro Mei-Ann Chen, Chicago Sinfonietta will perform the music of Eugene Butler and Camille Saint-Saëns, Andy Deitrich and Sergei Prokofiev, and also a medley of gospels and a medley of classical works. The audience will have a chance to greet such guest artists as the legendary Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir, the extravagant punk marching band Mucca Pazza, world-renowned American violinist Melissa White, and a fifteen year old genius cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing.

"Chicago Sinfonietta closes its 30th Anniversary Season with 'Praise and Punk' featuring two award winning string soloists, Ifetayo Ali-Landing and Melissa White, both winners of the prestigious Sphinx Competition, the 180-voice Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir, and the 30-piece performance art marching band, Mucca Pazza," said Jim Hirsch, Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Sinfonietta. "The concert will open with a short gospel work featuring the choir. We wanted to invite Apostolic to be a part of this closing concert because we have been collaborating with them for over twenty years and we felt it was a great way to reference our late beloved founder, Maestro Paul Freeman. The second work, Saint-Saëns La Muse et le Poète, will feature Ifetayo Ali-Landing and Melissa White, and is also a nod to Sinfonietta's past. Maestro Freeman mentored Melissa as a teenager and Ifetayo is the daughter of one of the founding members of the orchestra, Lucinda Ali-Landing. The first half will end with a 20-minute medley of gospel and spiritual music performed with the choir."

Chicago Sinfonietta's first collaboration with Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir was in 1989. For the past seventy years, the choir has been a voice of the Apostolic Church of God and enriched our beautiful city with its talented presentation of sacred music. The choir is now led by Music Director Chip Johnson and conductor Willetta Greene-Johnson and has performed with legendary artists such as Gladys Knight and Wynton Marsalis.

The members of the choir are excited to perform Butler's "How Excellent is Thy Name". Eugene Butler is known as a respected well-recognized composer, conductor, educator and church musician. This award-winning composer has over seven hundred published compositions with forty six publishing houses, as well as numerous unpublished manuscripts. His music is very popular around the United States and in other countries and is frequently performed in thousands of performances throughout the English-speaking world.

Soloists Ifetayo Ali-Landing and Melissa White will bring a touch of sensitivity and sincerity to the concert. Their extreme talent along with the Chicago Sinfonietta's brilliant support will help them to demonstrate all the beauty, dramatism and poetical elegance of Saint-Saëns's La Muse et le Poète. This weightless, yet emotional piece will touch everyone's heart. It will be followed by various gospels presented by the choir and the orchestra, and then the "concert mashup" will bring a different kind of excitement to the audience.

"After the break, the entire second half will feature a mock 'battle of the bands' between Chicago Sinfonietta and Mucca Pazza," noted Hirsch. "The second half opens with 'War of Amusements' composed by a Mucca Pazza member and is followed by a theatrical version of Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet.' Each ensemble represents the feuding families of Shakespeare's masterpiece and the story is told through the music, a puppet theater, and both groups' musicians and actors. Making this even more special, we will perform an alternative, happy ending that Prokofiev created for this iconic work. The concert, evening, and thirtieth anniversary season ends with a special medley of classical works entitled 'The Ending of All Endings' that will lift the audience out of its seats."

Chicago Sinfonietta is excited to face off against Chicago's own, lovable nonconformist marching band Mucca Pazza. Mucca Pazza performed with Chicago Sinfonietta before and had a great experience. This season's battle is expected to be a wild musical competition as both bands are strong, unique and educated. Chicago Sinfonietta itself calls this battle epic, and considering that it will occur to the tune of Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet Suite," it is also expected to be passionate, romantic and outstanding. Russian music will add brilliance and elegance to the evening and only God knows how the Chicago Sinfonietta and Mucca Pazza will end this battle. Highly likely, the battle will end in the victory of both bands, as music always wins. Various classical works blended together and called "Ending of all Endings" will bring classy taste to the whole concert program and will conclude it with triumphal sounds of the best classical compositions.

This concert program will become the conclusion of Chicago Sinfonietta's thirty year period of success and the beginning of a great decade full of musical experiences, collaborations, joy, fun, hard work and passion. Thank you, Chicago Sinfonietta, for all the great moments that Maestro Mei-Ann Chen and the Sinfonietta's musicians have given to their audiences! Great deeds never stay unnoticed, and as the ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles said, "To be doing good deeds is man's most glorious task." Viva Chicago Sinfonietta, your glorious tasks are greatly appreciated and enjoyed!

Tickets for "Praise and Punk" are selling fast, and music lovers are encouraged to call (312) 284-1554 or purchase tickets online at The price for the tickets that are left ranges from $10 to $62 for both venues.

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