WOODLAWN — The Chicago Symphony Orchestra returns to Woodlawn Friday for the first time since 2016, performing selections by Vivaldi and Handel for free.
The “community concert” will be held 7 p.m. Friday at Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester Ave. Advance online registration has reached capacity, but reservations are not required to attend Friday’s community concert in the 3,000-seat venue.
Attendees who are not feeling well, are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms, or who have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 in the past 10 days should not attend, organizers said. Attendees must wear face coverings at all times.
Friday’s performance will be held as the orchestra plays similar concerts Thursday and Saturday at the Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. Tickets for the Downtown performances start at $29.
The Woodlawn concert “is important, because not everyone can find the time to squeeze in their busy schedules and come Downtown to hear the orchestra,” violinist and assistant concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu said. “… You get a different energy [with community performances] than when you play in a concert hall.”
Friday’s program features two of the three Vivaldi concertos to be featured during the Symphony Center performances — “Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor” and “Flute Concerto in G Minor.”
The symphony orchestra will also perform Handel’s “Water Music Suite No. 1” for the first time in more than a decade this weekend.
Friday’s performance “highlights some of the orchestra’s principals as solo players,” said Yu, a featured soloist during the “Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor.” It focuses “more on the baroque style of playing and repertoire,” she said.
It’s “a more intimate program” than the orchestra’s last performance at Apostolic Church in 2016, when the musicians performed Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” — a “large-scale symphonic work,” Yu said.
The orchestra also performed works by Beethoven at a free community concert Jan. 14 at Morton East High School in Cicero.
Community performances like the ones in Cicero and at Apostolic can have a lasting impact on attendees, Yu said. The church’s youth orchestra saw a boost in participation after the 2016 concert, she said.
“People are inspired to go back to the instruments they played when they were younger, or it inspires the next generation to include music in part of their education,” Yu said. “Even if you’re not going to become a musician, having an appreciation of music and knowing an instrument is so important in one person’s complete education.”
The benefit of community concerts is mutual, Yu said, as Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians felt energized after their last performance in Woodlawn.
“I remember how exciting it was to play in 2016 — how audience members just applauded right after we played a few notes,” she said. “That kind of applause from the audience, the public and the community is also invigorating for the musicians, to see that they are welcome.”
“I don’t think there’s a right way” to enjoy the symphony, Yu said. She encouraged neighbors who have never experienced the orchestra before to “just come and enjoy” the free concert.
“It’s lively, energetic and in general a more upbeat kind of music,” Yu said. “You don’t need any prior knowledge, just come and pass a little over an hour [with] great music.”
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