Chicago Sinfonietta Present 'Past Tense, Future Tense' Tonight


The Chicago Sinfonietta, under the leadership of Music Director Mei-Ann Chen, will present Past Tense, Future Tense at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago on Thursday, April 19, at 7:30 pm. Past Tense; Future Tense pays homage to the orchestra's inception under Paul Freeman in 1987 and will celebrate the orchestra's anniversary with throw back ticket prices of $18 each (for this concert only).   Additionally, children's tickets are free with the purchase of adult admission.

Harvey Felder, Music Director of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, will lead the rare Thursday evening performance,conducting selections that were first performed during the orchestra's first two seasons under founder Paul Freeman, and are reflective of the orchestra's mission to perform works from a diverse array of composers.

Maestro Felder's appearance will be his second time conducting the Chicago Sinfonietta. The orchestra will be joined by soprano Sarah Hibbard, who will be making her debut with the Sinfonietta.

"We are delighted to welcome back Harvey Felder to the podium as we officially kick-off our celebration of the Chicago Sinfonietta's 25th anniversary year," said Chicago Sinfonietta Executive Director Jim Hirsch"Maestro Felder's concert with us in 2010 was one of our season highlights, so we're thrilled to have him back."

Maestro Felder will conduct works that set the stage for the next 18 months of anniversary activities, leading off with Variaciones Concertantes by Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. This piece was first performed by the Sinfonietta in January of 1988. Composed in 1953, the Variaciones was a central work of Ginastera's second stylistic period, which the composer described in this way: "These variations have a subjective Argentine character. Instead of using folkloristic material, I try to achieve an Argentine atmosphere through the employment of my own thematic and rhythmic elements."  By turns lively and elegiac, it has twelve movements, played uninterrupted.

Ginastera's work is followed by the iconic Knoxville: Summer of 1915 by American composer Samuel Barber. First performed by the Sinfonietta in September 1988, the work is scored for voice and orchestra. A lush, richly textured work, it sets to music excerpts from James Agee's short story Knoxville.  Barber paints an idyllic, nostalgic picture of Agee's hometown. The short story is a simple, dreamlike depiction of an evening in the American South, narrated by a child who seems, at times, to transform into an adult. Both parts are sung by soprano Sarah Hibbard.

Following intermission, the orchestra will perform a work by Pulitzer Prize winning African-American composerGeorge Walker. The rarely heard Antifonys for Chamber Orchestra was also performed for the first time by the Sinfonietta in September 1988. Composed in 1968, the instrumentation consists of a flute alternating with piccolo and winds - oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet and trombone - with a small string orchestra plus an array of percussion.  Writing about our 1988 performance, one critic described it as "a masterfully orchestrated piece by one of America's most individualistic voices [that] alternates between rhythmically splintered themes and more lush, lyrical ones."

Representing the European classical tradition is Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, which concludes the concert. First performed by the Sinfonietta in March 1988, the 8th Symphony is generally light-hearted, though not lightweight, and in many places cheerfully loud, with many accented notes. Various passages in the symphony are heard by some listeners to be musical jokes. As with various other Beethoven works, the symphony deviates from Classical tradition in making the last movement the weightiest of the four.

Tickets are $18 for main floor and balcony seating, and $50 for box seats (seating limited). Student tickets are $10 with student ID (main floor & balcony only). Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 312-236-3681 ext. 2.

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