Chicago Sinfonietta Battles Mucca Pazza

A strange thing happened at Symphony Hall on Monday. A well-established classical music organization took on a well-established punk marching theatrical band, and the result was amazing!

Chicago Sinfonietta began its 27th season on Monday with much pomp and circumstance. Maestro Mei-Ann Chen, residing on the conductor’s podium since 2011, elegantly and passionately led this small but fierce orchestra through some beautiful classical standards. The concert opened with Vaughan Williams'  English Folk Song Suite.  Next came Dance in the Canebrakes by African American composer Florence Price.  The first half concluded with Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Maestro Chen promised a rousing second half and did not disappoint.

Mucca Pazza, 30+ members of drummers, brass, and various other peculiar instrumentation, literally rose up through the stage and played Holiday on Ice, composed by founder Mark Messing, in combination with Chicago Sinfonietta.  The concert ended with Tchaikovsky’s  Overture 1812 in a battle between the two groups.  Mucca Pazza played the part of the French (in Napolian’s attempt to take over Russia) and took over the stage, audience and choral balcony, ending in confetti shot from canons much to the audience’s delight.

Part of Chicago Sinfonietta’s quest has been to bring little known and rarely plaid classical pieces to light.  They combine that with atypical instrumentation, such as bagpipes, sitar, steel drums, and many other odd mixtures, making the Chicago Sinfonietta concerts unique to say the least. What might seem campy or a disturbing combination actual makes for fantastic entertainment and broadens classical music’s audience.  The superb musicality of this diverse group is to be taken seriously.

Mucca Pazza has been delighting audiences across the country with their quirky costumes, charmingly unconventional cheerleaders, and fantastic musicality. They were the perfect complement to Chicago Sinfonietta’s long-standing tradition of non-classical partnerships.

For information on the remainder of Chicago Sinfonietta’s season, visit You have the opportunity to hear them play in two places they call home, the Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville, and Symphony Center on south Michigan Avenue. 

For more information on upcoming shows for Mucca Pazza visit

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