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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Amateur Musicians Can Play ‘Side By Side’ With The Chicago Philharmonic At Sunday Concert In South Shore

Student and community musicians are invited to play Christmas selections alongside the 200-person orchestra Sunday.

Chicago Philharmonic and community musicians perform at the most recent Side By Side concert at Pottawattomie Park Aug. 17.
Elliot Mandel/Chicago Philharmonic
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SOUTH SHORE — For musicians craving a bigger stage than caroling through the neighborhood this holiday season, there’s a chance to practice and perform with the Chicago Philharmonic orchestra Sunday afternoon.

The holiday edition of the Philharmonic’s Side By Side concert series will happen Sunday at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive. Rehearsal begins at 1:15 p.m. and the hour-long concert starts at 4 p.m.

Musicians interested in performing can apply through the Philharmonic’s website.

Conductor Emanuele Andrizzi and many of the 200-plus musicians on the Philharmonic’s roster will lead community musicians in playing holiday-themed selections.

The seven-song program includes Bernard and Smith’s “Winter Wonderland,” Tchaikovsky’s “Suite from Nutcracker” and Strauss’s “Radetzky March.”

The selections are “intermediate to advanced,” said Lydia Penningroth, the Philharmonic’s communications coordinator.

But organizers are encouraging all who are interested to apply. Andrizzi and the professional musicians — who are often university and high school music teachers— are “incredibly welcoming” regardless of skill level, she said.

“We send out the music ahead of time” for community musicians to practice, Penningroth said. “We also encourage them — if they find any parts that they can’t play — they can sit out this measure or this piece.”

Amateur musicians from seven to 87 years old have participated in Side By Side concerts, Penningroth said.

The Philharmonic has yet to recruit any full-time musicians from these community concerts, though several students have parlayed their Side By Side experiences into summer internships, said executive director Donna Milanovich.

The Side By Side program has staged 21 concerts in conjunction with the Chicago Park District since 2015.

“We had our holiday-themed concert at the South Shore Cultural Center last year as well,” Penningroth said. “It’s a great venue, and an indoor space is obviously important for winter concerts. … We do really like being at the Cultural Center.”

This summer, five Side By Side concerts were held at parks across the city, including Pottawattomie Park on the North Side, the Columbus Park Refectory out west and Englewood’s Hamilton Park.

Sunday will be the Philharmonic’s last Side By Side concert of the year. The 2020 schedule will likely be released in May or June, Penningroth said.

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