Debut of Chicago Sinfonietta’s new Music Director exceeds expectations

September 28, 2011
The Examiner
Donna Robertson

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Monday evening, September 26, the Chicago Sinfonietta performed its opening concert of the 2011-12 season, titled As Fate Would Have It, at Symphony Center with its new Music Director, Mei-Ann Chen.  If Monday’s concert was any indication, the Sinfonietta – and Chicago – can look forward to an exciting time during Maestro Chen’s tenure.

Paul Freeman, co-founder of Chicago Sinfonietta, the nation’s most diverse orchestra, retired at the end of last season after a long and illustrious career as the Music Director and nurturer of Chicago Sinfonietta.  Now, Mr. Freeman can enjoy his well-deserved retirement, knowing that he left his creation in very good hands.

Ms. Chen may be a tiny woman in stature, but she is a virtual powerhouse of energy and passion.  Her love for the music and her job is clearly evident, and she easily draws the audience into her passion.

She has an infectious personality that comes through the music and to the audience.  She has obvious respect for the musicians, whom she constantly includes in all accolades.  She also likes to hug, which seems in keeping with her personality.  She charmed the audience, and it appears that she has won over the musicians, which is no easy feat considering who she is following.