Entering its twenty-fifth year, Illinois’ chamber orchestra Sinfonia de Camera will be kicking off this season with Impressions of Spain. The performance has seven classical pieces ­— all Spanish inspired. University of Illinois pianist and founder of Sinfonia de Camera Ian Hobson will return as director and conductor of Sinfonia de Camera.
Soloist for Impressions of Spain will be bass-baritone Ricardo Herrera, who first performed with Sinfonia in 2005. He had initially come to play with Sinfonia in George Enescu’s opera Oedipe. This performance eventually lead to him becoming a member of the University of Illinois School of Music faculty in 2006.
Herrera will sing Xavier Montsalvatge’s Cinco Canciones Negras, five songs based on themes of Antillean rhythms and folksongs and Pablo Sorozábal’s “Despierta Negro,” from the nautical opera La Tabernera del Puerto. Additionally, he brings a classic literary figure to life in Ibert’s Chansons de Don Quichotte. Herrera also sings Bizet’s Toreador Song, from the opera Carmen, a portrait of the danger and romance of a bullfighter’s life. Conductor and Director Ian Hobson brings us what the performance’s title promises us: a musical impression for Spain with Claude Debussy’s Iberia. Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo: Ritual Fire Dance mixes strains of gypsy music with the story of an Andalusian girl tormented by the ghost of faithless lover. And last but certainly not least, the evening’s closing performance, Maurice’s Ravel’s Bolero, has been an audience favorite since it was first performed by Sinfonia over 10 years ago.
The chamber orchestra will allow the audience to enjoy classical music being played as it was originally intended to be, assistant director Rebecca Hill Riley explains, “classical musicians wrote music originally intended to be played by smaller orchestras like this.” Chamber orchestras like Sinfonia de Camera typically only have around 35 pieces and contain a much smaller string section than typically large symphony orchestras.
Sinfonia was first started by Hobson to allow faculty members at the University of Illinois to play professionally. Now the professional chamber orchestra is made up of not only faculty but also graduate students, undergrads, and for the first time, a high school student. Sinfonia attracts musicians from all around the Midwest to come and audition. Since its founding in 1984, Sinfonia has played over 600 different works, performed with nearly 100 guest musicians, released highly acclaimed recordings, been the subject of a 90 minute Public Television special, and following its 23rd season, played 5 performances in Beijing, China.

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