Music ReviewsTom Williams

Harlem Renaissance

Chicago Sinfonietta in concertharlem renaissance

Paul Freeman, Music Director and Conductor

John McLaughlin Williams, Guest Conductor

Harlem Quartet

At Symphony Center Chicago

Spirited music both classical and modern demonstrates the diversity of the Chicago Sinfonietta

What a discovery, what a gem! Music Director Paul Freeman has put together a excellent mixture of the old traditional and new contemporary scores and a new voice in chamber music – the Harlem Quartet.  This made for a marvelous evening of music.

Paul Freeman conducts two Mozart pieces: The Impresario and the Sinfonia Concertante, Mvt. 1. Both soared to the heavens with Mozarts smooth sounds deftly played by the excellent Chicago Sinfonietta orchestra. In the second piece, we heard from Ilmar Gavilian om violin and Juan-Miguel Hernandez  on viola.

Next, guest conductor John McLaughlin Williams explains and demonstrates the unique composition from George Frederick McKay – Variants on a Texas Tune. Williams’ got us to understand and appreciate the piece more with his demonstration. We need more of that in concerts. Kudos to Williams.

harlem renaissance

In the second half of the concert, the spirited and energetic Harlem Quartet (Ilmar Gavilian on Violin; Juan-Miguel Hernandez on viola; Melissa white on violin ; and Russell Rolen on cello) sparked  the concert with their high-energy musicianship. They were  featured in Michael Abels’ folksy sounding Delights and Dances.  The audience roared their approval and the Harlem Quartet  produced a fine encore deftly doing a string quartet rendition of Ellington’s Take the A Train.

The concert ended with a hauntingly large and booming piece, Dances of Galanta by Zoltan Kodaly.  We could hear all the members of the Chicago Sinfonietta aptly letting the talents (and their instruments) speak for them.

Both Kodaly’s piece and the swift playing from the Harlem Quartet prove that classical music need not be stuffy or boring.  The Harlem Renaissance was a wonderful concert that engaged and delighted the audience. Everyone left the Symphony Center smiling and rejuvenated. Put the Chicago Sinfonietta on your list of “must see” organizations.  The are world class.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

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