Chicago Sinfonietta is a professional orchestra dedicated to modeling and promoting diversity, inclusion, and both racial and cultural equity in the arts through the universal language of symphonic music. Our core values are built around being bold and daring in all aspects of our work, providing a source of connectivity through music, and ensuring and inspiring a continued investment in diversity and inclusion in classical music.
Our HistorySince 1987, Chicago Sinfonietta has been a defiantly different kind of orchestra. The orchestra was founded by Maestro Paul Freeman to address the disconnect between the utter lack of diversity in orchestras and the vibrant, nuanced, communities for which they play. For nearly 30 years, we have made it our mission to represent the city of Chicago, reflecting that vibrancy on stage and in our programming, making classical music accessible for anyone.
And, so it goes. The accomplishments of Paul Freeman are startling in their magnitude.
The orchestra’s 29 years have been highlighted by six European tours, two Kennedy Center performances, two Millennium Park concerts attended by over 19,000 people, and 15 recordings. For nearly 30 years, diversity, inclusion and bold and dynamic programming has been at the center of what we do. Rarely performed music by composers of color are a Sinfonietta staple and often include almost entirely lost compositions that are carefully pieced together and preserved through recording and/or the production of sheet music. Unusual instruments and musical styles like the bagpipes, steel drums, sitar, Indian Ghazal music, hip hop, and yes, even cell phones have served as centerpieces for Sinfonietta programs - some of the most daring musical collaborations any orchestra is putting on stage.
The legacy passed to Maestro Chen and all of us at the Sinfonietta goes far beyond what you see on stage. Maestro Freeman was, throughout his lifetime, a fierce advocate for early career, diverse musicians. Many of the musicians you see on stage (including our Concert Master since 1993, Paul Zafer) are the direct beneficiaries of this vision and personal investment that Maestro Freeman made in so many people. In 2008, this practice was formalized to create our Project Inclusion Fellowship Program. In the 9 seasons since this program began, Project Inclusion has served 45 fellows – more than all other similar fellowship programs in the country combined according to a 2016 League of American Orchestras study.