Women in Music 2016

Paul Freeman, Founder of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Dies at 79

Paul Freeman, the founder of the Chicago Sinfonietta, is dead at age 79.

The Sinfonietta announced Freeman's death on its website, saying the conductor had been fighting several ailments in recent years. He retired in 2011.

Sinfonietta director of operations Courtney Perkins says Freeman died late Tuesday in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife, Cornelia, and son, Douglas, at his side.

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Freeman was born in Richmond, Virginia. He founded the Chicago Sinfonietta in 1987 as a mid-sized orchestra dedicated to promoting diversity and innovative programming.

In addition to classics, the orchestra performed music by minority composers. It also featured instruments considered offbeat for orchestras, including bagpipes, steel drums and sitars.

Perkins says Freeman's family is planning a private ceremony in Victoria and a September public memorial service in Chicago.