Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra set for first-ever Chicago concert

The 68-member ensemble will present a concert on Aug. 6 at Symphony Center.

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The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, comprised of musicians from around the world under the leadership of principal conductor Maximiano Valdés, will perform in Chicago later this summer. 

The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, comprised of musicians from around the world under the leadership of principal conductor Maximiano Valdés, will perform in Chicago later this summer.

Courtesy Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra

The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra will make its first-ever concert appearance in Chicago later this summer, it was announced Wednesday by the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

The 68-member symphony, under the direction of principal conductor Maximiano Valdés and associate director Rafael Enrique Irizarry, will present a concert titled “Sounds of My Island” on Aug. 6 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

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The concert, featuring works by Puerto Rican composers, also marks the orchestra’s first performance on the U.S. mainland since a Kennedy Center presentation in 2004, and its first performance outside of Puerto Rico since a concert in Spain in 2005. The symphony performs a full slate of programs year-round in Puerto Rico, and has twice been nominated for a Latin Grammy Award.

“As the only national museum dedicated to sharing the arts and culture of the Puerto Rican people, we are proud to host the [musicians] for their first performance stateside in 20 years,” said Billy Ocasio, CEO of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, via Wednesday’s announcement. The museum is the local presenting arts organization for the concert. “It’s been said that the orchestra is humanity’s greatest artistic achievement, and we celebrate that achievement with this historic performance.”

Established in 1956, the orchestra, which is sponsored by the government of Puerto Rico, has performed in concert with an array of world-class soloists including Ana María Martínez, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te kanawa and Alicia Larocha.

The Chicago program will include works by composers Ernesto Cordero, Roberto Sierra, Hector Campos Parsi, Angelica Negron and Juan Morel Campos, among others.

“I wanted to do something that brings our culture out to other communities. ... People generally think of Puerto Rican music as salsa, but we have a whole other world [of music] out there,” Ocasio told the Sun-Times in a separate interview, about the genesis of the concert.

The museum, located at 3015 W. Division St., was founded in 2000 and is currently the only national museum of Puerto Rican arts and culture outside of Puerto Rico. Admission is free.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. Chicago concert are $25-$100. Visit cso.org.

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