Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Chicago Sinfonietta celebrates LGBTQ composers and musicians in “More than a Letter”, March 25 & 27

Michael Morgan

Sara Davis Buechner

Program features guest conductor Michael Morgan and internationally acclaimed pianist Sara Davis Buechner plus a Chicago Premiere by Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon and performances from Musicality and Allegrezza Singers

Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville, March 25
Symphony Center, Chicago, March 27
February 27, 2017 (Chicago, IL) - Chicago Sinfonietta presents its penultimate concert of the season, More Than a Letter, which celebrates self-identity and self-expression through the artistry of LGBTQ composers and musicians, and features guest conductor Michael Morgan, concert pianist Sara Davis Buechner plus performances from Musicality and Allegrezza Singers. The Sinfonietta performs More Than a Letter twice: first, in the western suburbs at Wentz Concert Hall of North Central College, Naperville, Saturday, March 25 at 8 pm, and then again in its downtown Chicago home venue of Symphony Center, Monday, March 27 at 7:30 pm.

For nearly 30 years, Chicago Sinfonietta has led the field of symphonic music in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, making intentional strides towards racial, cultural, and gender equality in the art form. In More Than a Letter, the Sinfonietta expands its efforts by shining a light on LGBTQ composers and musicians to explore gender identity and sexual orientation as they intersect with art, voice, and personal experience, as well as challenge labels of any kind.

Lead by guest conductor Michael Morgan, Music Director of the Oakland Symphony and former Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the program begins with Curie High School's professional caliber vocal ensemble, Musicality, who were recently featured on America's Got Talent, joining the orchestra for a performance of Stand in the Light written by Lauren Christy and Grammy- and Oscar-nominated writer and producer Stephan Moccio. The first half continues with Leonard Bernstein’s clever and vibrant Candide Overture followed by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s tour-de-force Variations on a Theme by Paganini featuring internationally acclaimed pianist Sara Davis Buechner, who began her career as David and has shared her personal transition story nationally and internationally as an advocate for LGBTQ artists in the field for more than twenty years. Samuel Barber’s Overture to the School for Scandal opens the second half which then continues with the Chicago Premiere of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s Peachtree Street. The Allegrezza Singers join the orchestra for the remainder of the program including David Conte’s moving work Elegy for Matthew, written in honor of Matthew Shepard, a young, gay man who was the victim of one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in American history and whose death spurred legislative movement toward extending the legal definition of hate crimes to attacks on sexual orientation. The concert then comes to a close with Bernstein’s Quintet from West Side Story and Somewhere featuring soloists from Allegrezza.

“I am thrilled to come back to Chicago to engage with two groups that were so important to me there, Chicago Sinfonietta and the LGBTQ community,” said Michael Morgan. “I think we've put together a program that is both entertaining and enlightening, and in the great Sinfonietta tradition, is inclusive of everyone. I am so proud to lead this special evening.”

Before the show and during intermission, audience members will also have the opportunity to explore identity and challenge labels by creating a self-portrait collage, writing a letter of courage to a stranger and by watching a series of coming out stories from the LGBTQ community presented by VideoOut, the largest collection of LGBTQ ally stories online.

On March 26, Chicago Sinfonietta will partner with VideoOut to present the second installment of their Chicago Story Collection Day, day-long effort to engage and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ community by filming personal narrative stories of coming out which will be shared on Chicago Sinfonietta and VideoOut invite all LGBTQ people and their allies to participate. The Story Collection Day will be held from 11am-4pm at the Alphawood Gallery at 2401 N Halsted Street. Details and instructions for how to sign up will be available soon on

More Than a Letter is sponsored in part by Aon and Hyatt with media support from Windy City Times and community partnership with Center on Halsted.

Title:                 Chicago Sinfonietta presents More Than a Letter

Dates:               Saturday, March 25 at 8:00 p.m. at Wentz Concert Hall of North Central College
Monday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Orchestra Hall of Symphony Center

Tickets:            Single tickets range from $18-$99 for concerts at Symphony Center and $48-$60 for concerts at Wentz Concert Hall, with special $10 pricing available for students at both concerts. Tickets can be purchased by calling Chicago Sinfonietta at 312-284-1554 or online at

Stand in the Light
Variations on a Theme by Paganini
Overture to the School for Scandal
Peachtree Street
Elegy for Matthew
Quintet from West Side Story
Michael Morgan, guest conductor
Sara Davis Buechner, piano 
Allegrezza Singers, choir 

Musicality, choir

Now in its 29th season, Chicago Sinfonietta has pushed artistic boundaries to provide an alternative way of hearing, seeing and thinking about a symphony orchestra and is dedicated to promoting diversity, inclusion, racial and cultural equity in the arts. Led by Music Director Mei-Ann Chen since 2011, each concert experience blends inventive new works with classical masterworks, each from a diverse array of voices, to entertain, transform and inspire. In 2016, Chicago Sinfonietta was the proud recipient of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (MACEI). This award recognizes exceptional organizations that are key contributors in their fields. The orchestra also received the Spirit of Innovation Award at this year’s Chicago Innovation Awards.  Learn more at

Chicago Sinfonietta is grateful to its season sponsors including Cedar Concepts, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Southwest Airlines, Fairmont Hotel, Hotel Arista and NBC5. Chicago Sinfonietta also thanks its BRIDGE Audience Engagement sponsors Macy's and PWC, as well as its season media sponsors including WXRT, Chicago and Naperville Magazines, and Chicago Reader.

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