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Measure for Measure, Chicago Sinfonietta, Swing Shift Orchestra and more
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times
2018-11-05

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The Hindu celebration of Diwali, the five-day festival of lights, will be marked by the Chicago Sinfonietta with concerts in Naperville ( Nov. 10 at Wentz Hall ) and Chicago ( Nov. 12 at Symphony Center ).

Diwali celebrates light conquering dark and good conquering evil, and also coincides with the Hindu New Year. Typically, Hindu, Sikh and Jain households will light traditional lamps during the festival, wear their best clothes and keep the house doors open so the gods may enter. They also celebrate with nightly fireworks. Even some Buddhists, it's been reported, honor Diwali.

The Chicago Sinfonietta concert, entitled "Sea of Light, Reflections on Diwali," will juxtapose European classical music with compositions by contemporary American and Indian-American composers. Sinfonietta musical director Mei-Ann Chen will conduct, with sitarist Gaurav Mazumdar as guest soloist. The program features works by Mazumdar, Indian-American composer Reena Esmail, American composer Eric Whitaker ( a 2012 Grammy Award winner ) and concludes with Debussy's La Mer.

The Chicago Sinfonietta, now 30 years old, is one of America's most diverse professional orchestras, long noted for its eclectic mix of standard classical repertory with multiethnic and multicultural contemporary music. Complete info and tickets ( $10-$62 ) are at Chicagosinfonietta.org . FYI: The next Chicago Sinfonietta event is its annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20-21 in Naperville and Chicago.

An orchestra of a different kind has a standing gig at Uptown's Green Mill Lounge every Thursday night ( including Thanksgiving ), 9 p.m.-1 a.m. That would be Alan Gresik's Swing Shift Orchestra, maintaining the great tradition of 1930s-1940s big band jazz. This outfit, which sometimes includes a featured vocalist, is something to savor. The modest cover charge is $8; vist GreenMillJazz.com .

Chicago Symphony Orchestra ( CSO ) music director Riccardo Muti returns to the Symphony Center podium Nov. 8-10 to lead the orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Chorus and distinguished soloists in three performances of the massive Verdi Requiem. Muti and the CSO won two Grammy Awards for their 2010 recording of the work. Most seats already are gone for these concerts so move fast if you want to attend, and be prepared to take scattered seats if there are two or more in your group. Tickets ( $65-$316 ) and info are at CSO.org .

Another Grammy-winning group, the Soweto Gospel Choir, takes over Symphony Center for a Nov. 16 concert of African gospel music, Songs of the Free, honoring Nelson Mandela. This vibrant choral group, accompanied by African drums, has developed a global following over almost 20 years. In addition to authentic South African music, the choir also will perform Amazing Grace and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Tickets ( $20-$65 ) and info: www.cso.org .

Lovers of baroque music are in for a rare treat with the Nov. 15-16 visit of Toronto-based Opera Atelier at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, offering a double-bill of rarely-seen operas, both inspired by classical mythology: Marc-Antoine Charpentier's early-Baroque Acteon and Jean-Phillipe Rameau's late-Baroque ballet-opera Pygmalion. Tenor Colin Ainsworth will perform the title roles in both works. Opera Atelier, founded in 1983, specializes in fresh, visually-arresting new productions of 17th- and 18th-century repertory. To judge by the website, Opera Atelier manages to expose a good deal of skin in many of their productions ( if that's your idea of a good time ). It partners with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, a period instrument ensemble that will accompany them to Chicago. Tickets ( $35-$135 ) and info are at HarrisTheaterChicago.org . FYI: French Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier is not related to 19th-20th-century French composer Gustave Charpentier.

Voice of Chicago, the premier mixed-voice ensemble of the larger Chicago Children's Choir, opens its concert season Nov. 14 with a FREE concert at the Chicago Cultural Center's Sidney R. Yates Gallery. The concert is at 7:30 p.m., with tickets available at the concert venue one hour earlier.

The Chicago Children's Choir ( CCC ) uniquely maintains a series of neighborhood ensembles ( although they all sing together from time to time ) and several of them are performing in November. The CCC Austin Neighborhood Choir performs Nov. 11 at the Third Unitarian Church and again Nov. 29 at the Austin College and Career Academy. The CCC Rogers Park Neighborhood Choir will perform Nov. 15 at the annual tree-lighting festival at the 900 N. Michigan Avenue shops. The CCC Pilsen/Little Village Neighborhood Choir will lift its voices Nov. 17 at the Peter Cooper Dual Language Academy. Finally, on Thanksgiving morning ( 11 a.m. ), the CCC Hyde Park Neighborhood Choir will join the Allegro and Vivace singers for an interfaith Thanksgiving service at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel. All these are FREE events; visit ccchoir.org .


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