Lucia Matos leads performances on Nov. 15 and Nov. 17
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]y far one of the most important and culturally rich observances rooted in Mexico’s culture and religion are the three-day festivities surrounding Dia De Los Muertos. As end of the year festivities approach, so does this magical holiday honoring those who have passed. Chicago Sinfonietta is presenting a “Dia De Los Muertos” concert in celebration of this long honored tradition. Led by guest conductor Lucia Matos, the performance will be presented in two installments – Nov. 15 at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville and Nov. 17 at Symphony Center in Chicago.
Chicago Sinfonietta’s “Dia De Los Muertos” concert began four years ago with the idea of celebrating the holiday by performing a series of music pieces from Mexico, Central and South America.
“Over the years, we brought this musical diaspora together and tied it to the notion of mortality and its view through the lens of the Day of the Dead celebration,” explains Jim Hirsch, executive director of Chicago Sinfonietta. “A lot of music written about mortality, like Mozart’s ‘Requiem,’ only reflects its dark aspects and the anguish of loss. With Dia de los Muertos there is another notion of celebrating life and using it as an occasion to reflect the richness that people bring to our lives. These concerts allow us the opportunity to go between the emotional and the celebratory. It’s very rich in artistic content.”
Since its formation in 1987, the Chicago Sinfonietta has had a history of forming unique cultural connections through its use of symphonic music. From musician to artist to board of directors, the orchestra’s diverse foundation has allowed for a stream of musical innovations. For example, the organization’s SEED and Audience Matters programs place Sinfonietta musicians in classrooms, creating a circle of inspiration for future generations. Additionally, it encourages the city’s youth to engage in the development of music culture through their Project Inclusion program, which provides fellowships to aspiring classical musicians from under-represented communities. It’s no wonder it’s been dubbed the city’s hippest orchestra.
“Taking traditional classical music and reimagining it in a way audiences haven’t experienced before is one of our main goals,” says Hirsch. With that in mind, the Sinfonietta expanded its presentation through collaboration with Redmoon Theater.
“We worked with Redmoon for last year’s concert and were so thrilled with the performance, the theatrical elements and even the skeleton costumes that the choir members wore, that we wanted to do something again,” said Ryan Smith, director of marketing for the Sinfonietta. “This year Redmoon’s role has expanded as they will be providing live shadow puppetry to add an amazing theatrical element to the story of de Falla’s ‘El Amor Brujo.’”
It’s through the ritual of cultural celebrations like Dia de los Muertos that dialogues open up allowing those with questions about life and death to try and make sense of the duality of grief and joy.
“At least year’s concert, Grainger Ballroom at Symphony Center had a town square-like atmosphere, with folks gathering and chatting during intermission, many of whom were celebrating Day of the Dead or attending a Sinfonietta performance for the very first time. Patrons were asking questions about the holiday, reminiscing about lost loved ones and talking about the music. We expect a similar vibe this year,” said Smith.
With guest conductor Lucia Matos at the helm, Chicago Sinfonietta’s Dia De Los Muertos celebration offers a complex musical exploration of the human experience as it goes through the stages of grief and joy when losing a loved one.
“This is the first time Maestra Matos works with us and it’s been quite wonderful. She is well qualified, very experienced and her Brazilian background and deep understanding of music lends a new experience and rhythm and feel. And even though Mei-Ann Chen, our musical director, selected the pieces we’ll be presenting, it was great to be able to confer with Maestra Matos who had marvelous suggestions,” says Hirsch.
Each day’s performance begins with a piece by Spanish composer Gerónimo Giménez, followed by the solemn mood changer, Valse Triste, by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It’s not long before the audience will be transported to a more jovial mode with Mosaico Mexicano from composer Arturo Rodriguez (Mexico).
The orchestra will then be accompanied on its climactic selection with a grand display by Redmoon’s shadow puppetry showcasing its interpretation of Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo. The evening will then conclude with an exuberant performance of Arturo Marquez’s Danzón No.2. It’s a vibrant and intricate journey of emotions through music.
The concerts are also a great way to expose children to symphonic music and $10 tickets have been made available for children 6-years-old and up.
Saturday, Nov. 15, 8:00 p.m.
Wentz Concert Hall
171 E. Chicago Avenue (Naperville)
Monday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.
220 S. Michigan Avenue (Chicago)
Giménez La Boda de Luis Alonso
Sibelius Valse triste, op.44
Rodríguez Mosaico Mexicano de Falla El amor brujo: Ballet Suite
Márquez Danzón No.2
This post is also available in: Spanish