Of Tom Sillitti’s 12 closest friends, a group he calls his “family,” half are sick with or have died of AIDS. “At this point, we’ve all gone through the process of losing people,” he says. “I wanted to do something more.”

Sillitti, whose rich, warm baritone is known to Chicago audiences from his performances with the Chicago Symphony and the William Ferris Chorale, decided to do a recital, a benefit concert for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “It’s one of the biggest advocacy groups of its kind–they do a lot of big-name benefits,” he says. “This is on a smaller scale.” He says he called the recital A Song for Life “because the AIDS Foundation helps people to live with the disease. It is not in memorial to those who have died–it is in remembrance of them.”

Sillitti will be accompanied by noted pianist William Browning in a program of songs by John Ireland, Frederick Keel, Ottorino Respighi, and Richard Strauss. Sillitti brings a special touch to the Strauss lieder: he learned them from his teacher Frances Grund, who studied them with Strauss himself during her successful European career in the 1930s and ’40s.

If the recital is successful, Sillitti says, it could be the first of a series of concerts by “really top-notch area people.” All of the money that comes in will go to the AIDS Foundation–Sillitti is paying for the hall himself, and Browning is donating his services. “It’s an attempt to give something back, not just for the foundation and all they do, but for my friends.”

The recital will be at 2 PM on Sunday, June 9, at Curtiss Hall in the Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan. The suggested donation is $10; tickets may be obtained at People Like Us Books (3321 N. Clark, 248-6363), Unabridged Bookstore (3351 N. Broadway, 883-9119), and Women & Children First (5233 N. Clark, 769-9299), or by calling the AIDS Foundation at 642-5454.