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Oh Them Rats Is Mean in My Kitchen!

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As the title indicates, this two-part new-music jamboree intends to be funky and irreverent, yet relevant--a welcome attempt by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, its sponsor, to reach out to a younger, hipper audience. Composer-in-residence Shulamit Ran chose the pieces for the programs, which are supposed to reflect the cultural diversity that has worked its way into contemporary compositions. Javier Alvarez's Quemar las naves for brass and percussion instruments, for instance, draws on salsa as a source material, and Martin Butler's Tin-Pan Ballet recasts both new age and Broadway tunes in a minimalist mode. The program, which will be performed over the course of two separate concerts, also includes Israeli composer Jan Radzynski's Three Tunes, with its Middle Eastern folk influences, and Dzhavanshir Kuliyev's Seven Pieces With Interludes in Mugham Modes, a loving tribute to the composer's native Azerbaijan. Of course, the integration of pop and folk idioms into formal frameworks has resulted in such landmark pieces as Copland's Appalachian Spring and fascinating experiments like Berio's Folk Songs, both of which are on the program. (Only numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, and 11 of the Berio will be performed.) Three local composers will be represented: Robert Lombardo, with his Contrasti a Due, Janice Misurell-Mitchell and her jazzy Dichophony, and CSO violinist Joseph Golan, who will improvise a number called Kosher Gypsy Jam. Some caveats, however, about this "diversity" sampler: among the composers there is only one black (David William Sanford, with his Chamber Concerto no. 2), one woman, and no Asians, and the program tilts toward Anglo-American academia. Larry Combs on saxophone and clarinet, Barbara Haffner on cello, Easley Blackwood on piano, Patricia Dash on percussion, and mezzo-soprano Cynthia Anderson are among the performers. Sunday and Tuesday, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666 or 435-8122.

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