Chicago Sinfonietta | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago Sinfonietta 

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The Chicago Sinfonietta, a multiethnic, midsize orchestra that has won accolades for the quality of its playing, is also a tireless advocate of diverse programming. No mainstream ensemble in town has proffered a program as unusual and politically correct as the Sinfonietta's this weekend. It features a curtain-raiser by an eminent African-American (the overture to Theatre Set by Ulysses Kay), a piano concerto by an Eastern European neo-medievalist (the ubiquitous Henryk Gorecki), a concerto for steelpan and orchestra written by a veteran local composer (Northern Illinois University's Jan Bach) for a young soloist from Trinidad (Liam Teague), and one of the lesser-known symphonies by a gay Russian (Tchaikovsky's Little Russian Symphony)--all under the direction of the Sinfonietta's founder and much-honored maestro Paul Freeman. The Gorecki concerto dates from 1980, when the composer's style was in transition from quasi serialism to the now familiar blend of folk and early-music idioms; it will be performed by David Arden, a champion of contemporary keyboard literature who's recorded some of Gorecki's solo works for Koch International. Teague, who now studies at Northern Illinois, is a prodigy of the steelpan, a folk instrument that sounds like a cross between xylophone and marimba. Bach has put a peppy Latin beat into his formally cast concerto. The only caveat about this concert, really, is Freeman's conducting, which sometimes borders on the soporific. Sunday, 2:30 PM, Lund Auditorium, Rosary College, 7900 W. Division, River Forest. Monday, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan. 857-1062.

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