People who hold that classical music programmers don’t speak to the interests of minorities are obviously unacquainted with the Chicago Sinfonietta, which makes a point of including black musicians and new music, some of it by black composers, in its concerts. That’s been a recipe for success for the 65-member orchestra, which will open its eighth season Sunday under the baton of music director Paul Freeman. The Sinfonietta’s motto this year is “excellence through diversity,” and diversity describes the first program, which includes the familiar overture to Rossini’s Barber of Seville, the unfamiliar Variations for Strings by American composer Ellen Zwilich, and the moderately familiar first suite from Manuel de Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat. It’s also a showcase for two very different but equally interesting soloists. Pianist Leon Bates, a weight lifter on the side, returns to perform the MacDowell Piano Concerto no. 2, and 18-year-old Russian cello virtuoso Borislav Strulev, making his Sinfonietta debut, will be heard in Saint-Saens’ well-loved Cello Concerto no. 1. Sunday, 2:30 PM, Rosary College, 7900 W. Division, River Forest. Wednesday, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan. 857-1062.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lisa Kohler.