HUMBOLDT PARK — The Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra is taking the stage in Chicago for the first time this weekend.
The 68-member ensemble is set to perform 7 p.m. Saturday at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., for a concert featuring works by Puerto Rican composers titled “Sonidos de Mi Isla,” or “Sounds of My Island.” Tickets can be bought online.
Founded in 1956 and sponsored by the Puerto Rican government, the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra regularly performs across Puerto Rico, but it rarely performs in the contiguous United States.
Saturday’s concert is not only the ensemble’s first Chicago show, but also its first stateside performance in 20 years. The orchestra last performed in the contiguous United States in 2004 at the Kennedy Center. Its last show outside of Puerto Rico was in Spain in 2005.
Billy Ocasio, CEO of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture in Humboldt Park, the United States’ only museum dedicated to Puerto Rican arts and culture, worked with the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra to bring the Chicago concert to life.
With the performance, Ocasio said they hope to deepen Chicagoans’ appreciation of Puerto Rican culture.
The show, led by principal conductor Maximiano Valdés and associate director Rafael Enrique Irizarry, will feature music with a “Caribbean flavor,” Ocasio said.
The Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra has been nominated for two Latin Grammy awards since its inception. Renowned soloists including Ana María Martínez, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, Alicia de Larrocha have performed with the group over the years.
“What I really wanted to do with this is show people that the Puerto Rican culture has so many different dimensions to it that even Puerto Rican people don’t know about,” Ocasio said.
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