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|Principal conductor||Mei-Ann Chen
Dr. Paul Freeman (Emeritus)
The Chicago Sinfonietta is an American orchestra based in Chicago, Illinois. The stated mission of the orchestra is to "serve as a national model for inclusiveness and innovation in classical music" and to "help America become a true cultural democracy, in which everyone can share fully in its cultural resources and in which all can contribute to it cultural richness." The group bills itself as "The Nation's Most Diverse Orchestra."
The orchestra was founded in 1987 under the guidance of Music Director Paul Freeman. In its first decade, the group made several tours of the United States, Europe, and other overseas destinations. In that time, guest performers included the Vienna Boys Choir, Ben Vereen, and Marian McPartland. In its second decade the group has released three new recordings and performed with guests including Poi Dog Pondering, Howard Levy, Rachel Barton Pine, Orbert Davis, and the Apostolic Church of God Choir.
Music Director Dr.Paul Freeman was the co-host of the National Public Radio program, The Global Maestro and conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Freeman founded the Chicago Sinfonietta after not finding enough conducting opportunities for African American conductors, instrumentalists and composers. With the announcement of Paul Freeman’s planned retirement in 2011, the organization conducted a two-year international search that resulted in the 2010 announcement of Mei-Ann Chen’s appointment as Music Director. Maestro Freeman’s final season culminated with a national broadcast of his final performance on WFMT 98.7 FM that also featured Maestro Chen and Renee' Baker as co-conductors for the evening. Maestro Chen’s tenure as Music Director was formally introduced to the city on August 14, 2011 with a free concert in Millennium Park celebrating the diversity of Chicago’s neighborhoods and people.
The 2011-2012 Season was the first under the baton of Mei-Ann Chen.
In keeping with its vision of inclusiveness, the orchestra has sought to develop future musicians and audience through an outreach program entitled "Audience Matters." Working with the Chicago Public Schools, this initiative offers music programming and subsidized tickets to the orchestra's performances to students in under-served Chicago neighborhoods. Project Inclusion, a nationally recognized mentoring program for young minority professionals was started in 2000. The Chicago Sinfonietta's Project Inclusion was awarded its largest funding ever from the Mellon Foundation in 2012.
The orchestra regularly performs in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and Wentz Concert Hall on the campus of North Central College in Naperville. The Chicago Sinfonietta was also the orchestra-in-residence at Dominican University for 24 years. The orchestra has also performed with the Joffrey Ballet. Members of the orchestra include Paul Zafer, Ricardo Castaneda, Matthew Mantell, Emily Lewis Mantell, Robert Everson, Faye Seeman, Phyllis Sanders, Robert C. Fisher, Becky Coffman, and William Porter.