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Performance Mon Nov 11 2013

Experience the Chicago Sinfonietta's Dia de Los Muertos Concert: Music, Theatre and Wine


How we meet death defines our culture, and it is this final rendezvous that the Chicago Sinfonietta explores tonight through music, theater and wine at the Orchestra Hall of Symphony Center at 7:30 p.m with its annual Dia de los Muertos concert.

The performance opens in darkness with portions of Grammy® Award-winning Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar ("Fountain of Tears"). Joined by soprano Elizabeth Norman and the female voices of the DePaul University Singers, the piece tells the story of playwright Federico Garcia Lorca's courageous opposition to and eventual execution by Spanish political party "the Falange". Then, all the voices of the DePaul University Singers will launch into Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor, each singer wearing a dramatic mask from Redmoon, a Chicago-based theatre company. Dim lighting in the Orchestra Hall highlights this Old World treatment of death in all of its grief and gravity.

I had the pleasure of speaking with celebrated soprano Elizabeth Norman, for whom the passion involved in performing at the Dia de los Muertos concert is paramount. "Every culture has its own understanding of death," she shared. "How a culture celebrates death says a lot about who we are as individuals. We should spend more time doing just that in our country."

After the intermission, the concert takes a lighter note as it begins to emphasize the jubilance of Latin and Mexican cultures. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday, during which families decorate the graves and share fond memories of their lost loved ones. With Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (featuring violin virtuoso Adé Williams) and Spanish composer Manuel de Falla's El Sombrero de Tres Picos Suite no. 2, hope fills the auditorium as cheerful rhythms evoke dancing and celebration.

This year, the Chicago Sinfonietta premieres a decadent wine-tasting to accompany the program, presenting three wines (one before the performance, one during intermission and one after the finale) from producer Diseño. Each taste pays tribute to the region or culture of the music audiences are about to hear, creating, as the Chicago Sinfonietta's executive director Jim Hirsch promised me, "a concert that engages multiple senses, a concert that you can hear, taste and see."

The Dia de los Muertos concert will take place tonight at the Orchestra Hall of Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave). You can purchase tickets at the Chicago Sinfonietta's website. You can learn more about Redmoon Theatre here.

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