Even though–or maybe because–it is the best musical bargain in town, the Civic Orchestra has fallen on fiscal hard times. After supplying instrumentalists to orchestras the world over for decades, the training arm of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra must now fend for itself. A campaign is underway to build an endowment fund, and marketing ploys are being considered to insure self-sufficiency in three years. The Civic, staffed with eager young apprentices, is often capable of inspired performances, and though its programming has returned to the conservative side recently, a 20th-century piece is almost de rigueur. Since Barenboim became the head of CSO two seasons ago, he’s instituted a system of introducing the Civic to a variety of interpretative styles from experienced maestros. This concert is no exception: Kenneth Jean, the CSO’s skillful associate conductor, will preside at the podium. While the program includes pieces from the standard repertoire, music from Don Giovanni, in a psychologically sharp arrangement by Busoni, and Mahler’s first mature symphony (no. 5), Michael Abels’s Global Warming is something new and wild. A paean to the climate of his native Phoenix and to cultural harmony, this terse piece by the 31-year-old CalArt alum reflects the multiethnic milieu of LA. Its percussion sounds are created by folk instruments ranging from Indian tablas to Irish bodhrans and tam-tams to congas. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Fridays, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.

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