Friday, September 21, 2018

Start the season with the CSO's African American Network

Sheila A. Jones writes:

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra African American Network enters its third year in the 2018/19 season!
This season, the CSOA commemorates the centenary of the Armistice that ended World War I with its theme “A Time for Reflection—A Message of Peace.” This season for peace presents many occasions to reflect and connect with others through music, and throughout 2018/19, the AAN will present complementary educational seminars, recitals and artistic experiences, as well as opportunities for AAN members, friends and their families to attend incredible CSO and Symphony Center Presents Jazz concerts.
With the personal encouragement of Riccardo Muti, the CSOA family seeks to empower the African American community to embrace Symphony Center and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as their “home away from home” for cultural experiences. To support this crucial initiative, I am thrilled to announce my new full-time position as Director of Community Stewardship for the African American Network. 
Here are some of the AAN’s 2017/2018 season highlights:
  • The AAN hosted its second Black History Month celebration on February 24, 2018, titled “The Identity of Color: Black Composers in New Music,” which featured a screening of the 1927 silent film "The Scar of Shame" with new music by acclaimed composer, conductor and violist Renée Baker. After the film, the audience participated in a Q&A hosted by CSOA President Jeff Alexander and Baker.
  • On April 12, 2018, the AAN presented a recital and lecture by pianist, music teacher and scholar Samantha Ege: “A Celebration of Women in Music: Composing the Black Chicago Renaissance.” The event explored the contributions of African American composers Florence Price and Margaret Bonds.
  • Once again, the AAN collaborated with the Gene Siskel Film Center as an official partner for its annual Black Harvest Film Festival.
  • On June 11, 2018, AAN members co-sponsored the League of the CSOA’s annual Corporate Night, which featured Gregory Porter in concert with the CSO.
I eagerly anticipate another season of uplifting events! Here are just a few of the AAN programs scheduled for 2018/2019:
  • On Friday, November 2, 2018, the Symphony Center Presents Jazz series presents a concert featuring the Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Roy Hargrove, as well as a world-premiere SCP commission showcasing AAN member and contemporary ragtime pianist Reginald R. Robinson. This commission celebrates James Reese Europe, whose “Hellfighters” regiment first brought black American music to France during the Great War. Join us before the concert for a Q&A with Robinson in Grainger Ballroom!
  • The AAN’s third annual Black History Month celebration will take place on Saturday, February 16, 2019! This event, titled “The Baldwin Chronicles: Midnight Ramble,” will feature Renée Baker’s NEOpera ensemble and guest vocalists.
  • On Sunday, May 4, 2019, we will celebrate the life of George Walker with a recital of the legendary composer’s works.
Visit our website at for more details about CSO performances, including special ticket offers reserved exclusively for African American Network supporters and friends. Our site is updated regularly and also includes information about additional events, open rehearsals and free community concerts—be sure to check back often! If you’re on Facebook, please click here to join the AAN Facebook group.
Feel free to contact me directly at or by phone at 312-294-3045. I look forward to your participation and feedback. Thank you for your support of the CSO African American Network. You are proof of an expanding sense of joy, creativity and musical community that knows no limits!
Joyfully yours,

Sheila A. Jones
Director of Community Stewardship,
African American Network

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