Chicago Sinfonietta celebrates immigrants through "I.D. Images of Diversity"

  • Chicago Sinfonietta will celebrate immigrants on September 22 at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville and on September 24 at Symphony Center in Chicago.Courtesy of Chicago Sinfonietta

    Chicago Sinfonietta will celebrate immigrants on September 22 at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville and on September 24 at Symphony Center in Chicago.Courtesy of Chicago Sinfonietta

Natalia Dagenhart
Updated 9/10/2018 9:55 AM

"Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as the talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances," said Robert F. Kennedy. These words reflect the attitude and the compassion that Chicago Sinfonietta, the most diverse orchestra in this country, has to people of different origins and with different backgrounds. Chicago Sinfonietta will celebrate the art, culture, and traditions of immigrants in its concert program called "I.D. Images of Diversity" at 8 p.m. on September 22 at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville and at 7:30 p.m. on September 24 at Symphony Center in Chicago.

We all are immigrants in some way, either ourselves or through our ancestors who sought to realize their American Dream by coming to this country and shaping its identity today. This is the core meaning of the United States -- to give people an opportunity to discover their talents, develop their skills and make this land a better place to live.


Chicago Sinfonietta prepared a beautiful concert program called "I.D. Images of Diversity" that will please the strict taste of even the most experienced music lovers. Verdi and Copland, Marquez and Johnson -- the music of these great composers will make this concert program unforgettable. Besides that, Maestro Mei-Ann Chen, the orchestra and the guest artists from Steep Theatre Company will showcase the immigrant experience through the epic work entitled "Ellis Island: The Dream of America" created by Peter Boyer.

"Tonight Chicago Sinfonietta celebrates the American Dream through the immigrant experience by performing works created by people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. As we recognize what immigrants have and continue to contribute to our country, we also acknowledge that the American Dream has been experienced in many different ways," said Jim Hirsch, Chief Executive Officer at Chicago Sinfonietta. "We are particularly excited to be performing Peter Boyer's multimedia symphonic work "Ellis Island: The Dream of America" featuring a video that uses historical images from Ellis Island and the stories of immigrants re-enacted by seven actors provided by the Jeff Award-winning Steep Theatre Company. The Ellis Island stories highlight the hardships faced by those who left their home countries for a better life in the U.S. and their sense of freedom and gratitude when they finally saw the Statue of Liberty and their new homeland. This is an evocative and emotional work that reminds us of our common ties and aspirations for a better life."

Performing music written by Grammy-nominated composer, orchestrator and conductor Peter Boyer is a great honor for the Chicago Sinfonietta. Boyer is one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of his generation. More than one hundred fifty orchestras have performed his music already with nearly five hundred public performances in the United States and abroad.

His moving masterpiece "Ellis Island: The Dream of America" is one of the most-performed American orchestral works of the last fifteen years. Its premiere was in 2002, and since then "Ellis Island: The Dream of America" has been performed nearly two hundred times by more than eighty orchestras. Chicago Sinfonietta and the actors from Steep Theatre Company will pay tribute to America's history by demonstrating their own approach to presenting this Grammy-nominated contemporary classical work that proudly celebrates the historic American immigrant experience. It will be the Chicago premiere of this piece.

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As always, Chicago Sinfonietta will honor old well-known classical favorites. One of them, Overture to the opera "Nabucco" by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi, was written in 1841 and is so popular that it became an inevitable part of the classical music repertoire and is frequently performed in concerts around the world. Maestro Mei-Ann Chen and the musicians from the Chicago Sinfonietta will make sure that the overture's gorgeous and rich musical themes touch the heart of every audience member and demonstrate all the beauty of Verdi's undoubted talent.

Aaron Copland's "Variations on a Shaker Melody" will be another masterpiece demonstrated during the "I.D. Images of Diversity" concert program. It is an excerpt from "Appalachian Spring" which is one of Aaron Copland's most popular compositions. Written in 1943-1944, it was originally composed for a ballet but later was adapted as a suite for chamber orchestra. One section of the piece contains variations on a Shaker theme, and this section became so popular that Copland wrote a version for wind ensemble and titled it "Variations on a Shaker Melody." In his music, the composer was able to capture the beauty of the Appalachians, which allowed this piece achieve widespread popularity.

Another musical gem that Chicago Sinfonietta will present during this concert program is "Danzón No. 2" by Arturo Márquez, a Mexican composer of orchestral music who is a genius in combining national Mexican musical forms and styles and the basic principles of writing classical music. His vibrant piece will be followed by an energetic and intriguing composition called "Drums -- A Symphonic Poem" written by talented African-American jazz pianist and composer James Price Johnson. This unique piece will make the audience dance in their seats.

"Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans -- liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal -- the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history… Immigration is not just a link to America's past; it's also a bridge to America's future," said George W. Bush. Through its beautiful concerts, its diverse and breathtaking music and the hard work of Maestro Mei-Ann Chen and its talented musicians, Chicago Sinfonietta builds a bridge to America's bright and vibrant future.

For tickets and information, please call 312-284-1554 or go to Tickets range from $10 to $62 at Wentz Concert Hall and from $10 to $99 at Symphony Center in Chicago.

Natalia Dagenhart

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