Teacher subs in with the Chicago Sinfonietta on occasion, last night being one of them. She offered free tickets to the Halloween concert, so I went with a friend down to Symphony Center for my first experience with this orchestra. The group was founded in 1987 to promote diversity in the arts – as anyone who looks at most symphonies or their audiences knows, the rainbow of humanity tends toward the monochromatic. Sinfonietta is conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, and they perform a season in several venues around Chicagoland. It’s a relatively large organization with quite a budget, from the looks of the sponsor and donor list.
The concert was Dia de los Muertos themed, and featured a program of classical and modern compositions – two pieces on the program were composed by Carlos Rafael Rivera, who was present for the performance – he took the stage to take a bow. Rivera’s Popoi-Vuh is an imaginative work that provides an interpretation of the Mayan creation story – the gods require three tries to get it right! His PizziCuban Polka was also a delight.
The modern pieces were interspersed with classical favorites from Saint-Saens and Beethoven and Mussorgsky, some of which were accompanied by classic silent scary films projected in the background. Chen kicked off the night in true Chicago style – with the Cubs in the World Series she entered the stage in a Cubs cap and sprang into action conducting a sing-a-long Take Me out to the Ball Game.
The cellos arranged cut-out skulls for their scrolls, and many players wore decorative headpieces – the symphony clearly had fun with the show. There was a even a costume contest at intermission, won by a scary looking Frida Kahlo. It’s been a while since I have gone out for Halloween; it was a treat! The ushers even passed out candy as we made our way out of Symphony Center.
Thanks for reading.