Alondra de la Parra has the inside track to become next Sinfonietta conductor

Sat Jul 17, 2010 at 10:47 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Alondra de la Parra made her local debut leading the Chicago Sinfonietta in March. Photo: Abby Ross

Sources indicate that Alondra de la Parra is the leading candidate to become the next music director of the Chicago Sinfonietta. An announcement is expected early next month.

The 29-year-old Mexican conductor made an impressive Chicago debut in March leading the chamber orchestra in music of Beethoven, Marquez, and Piazzolla.

The past 1-1/2 years have amounted to an extended public audition process with guest conductors vying for the opportunity to succeed Paul Freeman, the orchestra’s founder and longtime music director. Other strong podium candidates who have led the Sinfonietta this season have been Mei-Ann Chen and John McLaughlin Williams.

If de la Parra gets the nod, she will bring undoubted energy and youthful charisma to the task, as well as the possibility of bringing new audiences to the diversity-conscious ensemble by building bridges to Chicago’s significant Mexican population.

A crucial issue is whether de la Parra has the experience and maturity—and will get the artistic authority—to make the personnel upgrades necessary to raise the perennially mediocre Sinfonietta to the next level.

Still, from a public relations standpoint, announcing a young female Mexican conductor as the Sinfonietta’s new leader at the midpoint of Mexico’s centennial and bicentennial celebration has obvious advantages.

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