April , 2019

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Archive for September 1st, 2016

Chicago Cold Case: Seeking Justice for a Murdered Teenage Girl

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Chicago Cold Case: Seeking Justice for a Murdered Teenage Girl

Thirteen-year-old Alexandra Anaya was brutally murdered 11 years ago this month, and today the FBI’s Chicago Division—in close partnership with local authorities—marked the anniversary by requesting the public’s assistance to help to solve the case.

The Indiana teen, known to friends and family as Alex, was reported missing from her home August 13, 2005—she was last seen by her mother early that morning. Three days later, boaters on the Little Calumet River in Chicago found her dismembered body floating in the water.

Both the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Hammond Police Department in Indiana conducted an exhaustive investigation at the time and have continued to follow leads since, but Alex’s killer remains at large. Her case is one of many now being reviewed by FBI Chicago’s recently established Homicide Initiative Task Force.

“We believe this was not a random act of violence and that Alex knew her assailant,” said FBI Chicago Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Anderson during a press conference today in Chicago. “It has been more than a decade since Alex was murdered, and during that time people and relationships have changed. We are hopeful that someone will come forward now,” he added.

The Homicide Initiative Task Force—a collaboration between the FBI and the CPD—was launched in April 2016 to help local authorities solve some of Chicago’s most violent murders. Task force members re-examine cold cases with a fresh perspective and take advantage of the most current scientific techniques and forensic processes.

“The homicide rate is extremely high in Chicago,” said Special Agent Courtney Corbett, a task force member who works alongside CPD detectives and other FBI personnel. “Because there are so many homicides here, a cold case could be 20 years old or a murder that occurred six months ago.”

CPD homicide detectives often have caseloads that are overwhelming, Corbett said. “The task force is here to provide specialized assistance and help in any way we can.” That assistance translates into FBI resources such as enhanced DNA testing, telephone record analysis, surveillance, and the deployment of Bureau experts, including dive team personnel and members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit—commonly called profilers.

In Alex’s case, Corbett said, “we have been reviewing leads and re-interviewing individuals associated with this case. The DNA evidence has been well preserved, and we plan to use enhanced technology to exploit that evidence.” She added that task force members are fully invested in finding the killer. “We want to bring justice to Alex and other victims like her, and their families,” Corbett said. “To do that—and to ultimately reduce the homicide rate in Chicago—we all have to work together.”

Anyone with information regarding the murder of Alex Anaya—no matter how insignificant they think it might be—is asked to contact the FBI’s Chicago Field Office at (312) 421-6700 or submit a tip online.

Source: FBI

Chicago GOP Calls Out Madigan for Getting Rich From Property Taxes

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Chicago GOP Calls Out Madigan for Getting Rich From Property Taxes

CHICAGO, IL –  Penalties go up this week for those who are late on their property taxes. For thousands of Chicagoans, the penalty will be on top of this year’s already large tax hikes.

The Chicago Republican Party will be distributing flyers in swing wards this week to let voters know who is responsible.

While Chicagoans are suffering from the nation’s highest tax burden, House Speaker Mike Madigan has made millions from lowering the taxes of the select few who can afford to pay his bills. Madigan is a partner in a law firm that specializes in reducing the property taxes of big downtown buildings.

The scam works like this:

Big developers pay Madigan’s firm to challenge their property tax bills. Madigan, who is the Democratic Party’s state chairman, has his partners talk to Assessor Joe Berrios, who is the Democratic Party’s Cook County chairman. Berrios, not coincidentally, gets heavy political support and campaign contributions from Madigan. And magically, the big developers get lower tax bills.

Maybe the developers think that using Madigan’s political connections will give them a bigger break on property taxes. Or maybe they’re just looking for a legal way to throw Madigan some money so they’ll get special consideration on the issues they have in Springfield.

In either case, Madigan takes their money and puts it in his pocket, while normal taxpayers pay more and more.

“We’re sick of being at the back of the line for tax relief while Madigan helps his pals,” said Chris Cleveland, Chairman of the Chicago GOP. “Every group gets its cut except people who actually work for a living.”

“Bruce Rauner has put a stop to a lot of it, for the moment,” said Cleveland. “But he can only do so much while Madigan rules Springfield like a dictator. Madigan has got to go. 45 years in power is enough.

“Every dime in tax breaks for Madigan’s pals is a dime that doesn’t go to schools. We need to get our priorities straight and support candidates for the state house who don’t bend to Madigan’s will.”

For more information, contact:Chris Cleveland
312 339 2677

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to Keynote at HNBA’s 41st Annual Convention in Chicago 2

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to Keynote at HNBA’s 41st Annual Convention in Chicago 2
Convening on “Empowering Leaders” will feature top Latino legal, political, and media personalities
WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez will deliver keynote remarks at the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Annual Convention Gala on September 9, 2016 at the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Hotel in Chicago, IL. The four-day Convention attracts hundreds of attorneys, judges, and law students from across the country, including public officials, business leaders, and General Counsels from many Fortune 100 and other corporations.

“Secretary Perez is a shining example of a leader in the Latino community using his experiences and training to directly impact and make life better for all working Americans,” said HNBA National President Robert T. Maldonado. “A public servant from the very beginning of his career, his expertise spans civil rights law, labor negotiations, and access to health services. He has a keen understanding of how to empower all Americans, particularly the most vulnerable among us. We look forward to hearing about his vision of Latino leadership, and how it can help us adapt in this increasingly global and digital world.”

Thomas E. Perez, the nation’s 26th secretary of labor, is a civil rights lawyer by training, and leads the U.S. Department of Labor in its mission of giving all Americans the chance to get ahead and stay ahead. Under Secretary Perez’s leadership, priorities for the department include ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work through continued efforts to raise the minimum wage, expand overtime protections, and by being smarter and more strategic in the department’s enforcement of federal law.

The theme of this year’s Convention is “Empowering Leaders,” which resonates with Chicago’s history as an industrial and technological epicenter and bedrock of talented leadership. Attendees will take part in an engaging and comprehensive program that includes:

  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE) panels on cutting edge topics with leading practitioners, national policy makers, and experts from across the country;
  • A Corporate Board Training and a Latina Leadership Academy;
  • Networking events and workshops;
  • The largest Hispanic Career Fair in the country, featuring exhibitors from prominent law firms, corporations, and government agencies; and
  • A variety of social activities showcasing the best of what Chicago has to offer.
For more information on the conference or to submit a request for a media credential, contact Daniel Herrera at 202-930-6805 or dherrera@rabengroup.com.
About the Hispanic National Bar Association
The Hispanic National Bar Association is an incorporated, not-for-profit, national membership association that represents the interests of Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, law students, and legal professionals in the United States and its territories. Since 1972, the HNBA has acted as a force for positive change within the legal profession by creating opportunities for Hispanic lawyers and by helping generations of lawyers to succeed. For more information, please visit www.hnba.com.

Faith Community, Immigrants Demand Immediate Investigation into Civil Rights Violations by Chicago Immigration Office

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Faith Community, Immigrants Demand Immediate Investigation into Civil Rights Violations by Chicago Immigration Office

Groups gathered outside of Chicago ICE office to demand a formal investigation and immigrant protections for the Garcia family, whose members were deported in January. This is the second investigation into civil rights violations by the Chicago Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office this year.

Members of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN), Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), Latino Union of Chicago, and dozens of other faith, legal, and immigrant rights organizations gathered outside of the Chicago ICE office to publicize the submission of a formal request for civil rights investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of  Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the office of the Inspector General (IOG) into the deceptive and legally suspect tactics used by the Chicago Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office to detain and deport the Garcia Family.

Read documents here: bit.ly/churchraid

In January 2016, Chicago Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers executed a raid that led to the detention and deportation of the Garcia family, an Illinois family of four. In order to take Mr. Reynold Garcia into custody, immigration agents fabricated a false story involving a family friend suffering a car accident, used a family friend’s cellular phone to lure Mr. Garcia out of the Christian Pentecostal Center, and then impersonated local police before taking him into custody. All of this despite longstanding DHS policy which prohibits immigration raids at churches, schools, and other “sensitive” locations when national security concerns are not present, and despite Mr. Garcia having no criminal record or posing any threat to the public.

Just one day before Mr. Garcia was apprehended, Ms. Karen Margarito-Pineda, Mr. Garcia’s wife, and her children were detained in a home raid in which immigration agents again falsely represented themselves as local policy requiring assistance in the apprehension of a suspect to gain access to the family’s apartment. Immigration agents searched through Ms. Margarito-Pineda’s apartment and interviewed her underage children without a warrant and without her informed consent, a clear violation of her civil rights.

“The tactics which Chicago ICE agents used to target and detain the Garcia family were not only cruel and deceptive, they are also highly legally suspect. Till date, DHS has yet to take any real action to address the abusive tactics which were used to uproot this family from their church and the Palatine community. Today, we are formally calling on the office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to initiate an immediate investigation into the behavior of Chicago ICE agents and to grant immigrant protections for the Garcia family as key victims-witnesses” Rosa Navarro, OCAD.

“When this case was raised to the attention of the Chicago ICE Director Wong, he denied any wrongdoing on his office’s’ behalf. Instead, he told community advocates that new tactics, presumably of the egregious type exercised against Mr. Garcia, are now part of what is needed because organizations are informing people of their right to not open their doors to ICE.  We will not allow the Chicago ICE office to sweep this case under the rug and for them to operate with impunity. Our civil rights investigation request will be the second complaint lodged against the Chicago ICE office this year. We are confident that a transparent investigation inclusive of the family will demonstrate not only that the tactics used to detain and deport the Garcia family were excessive and wrong, but also that there is a deeply concerning pattern of abuse stemming from the Chicago ICE office” Lissette Castillo, CRLN.

To read the complaint/investigation request, see the text messages used to lure Mr. Garcia out of his church, and to access the public petition for the Garcia family click here.

Top 6 Back-To-School Scholarship Programs for African American Students in Fall/Winter 2016

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Top 6 Back-To-School Scholarship Programs for African American Students in Fall/Winter 2016

Will.i.am and Oprah giving away scholarships to African American students

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Every year, billions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships are given away to students to help them pay for college tuition, books, and other college-related expenses. As the year winds down, here are the top national scholarship programs for African American students and others that are still accepting applications:

#1 – Ford HBCU Community Challenge: The Ford HBCU Challenge invites college students to submit their ideas for building sustainable communities for a chance to win a college scholarship and other awards. Students must have a strong interest in their communities and the environment. Project ideas must include innovative ideas on how to build sustainable communities. The deadline to apply is in December 2016. Apply now at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2013/09/ford-hbcu-challenge.html

#2 – Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship: The Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship Program is designed to help cultivate minority students for potential recruitment in the field of technology. The scholarship amount award depends on the student’s tuition balance, academic excellence and classification. The deadline to apply is in September 2016. Apply now at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2012/03/xerox-technical-minority-scholarship.html

#3 – Coca-Cola Scholars Program: The Coca-Cola Scholars Program is a very competitive program for high school seniors throughout the United States. Sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, the largest soft drink company in the world, the program awards millions every year in college funding. The deadline to apply is in October 2016. Apply now at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2012/04/coca-cola-scholars-program.html

#4 – Apple HBCU Scholarship Program: The Apple HBCU Scholarship Program is offered to eligible college students who are in their final year of college at a HBCU institution. Eligible students include those who are majoring in Computer Science, Information Science/Technology, Mathematics, and/or Engineering. The deadline to apply is in October 2016. Apply now at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2015/08/apple-hbcu-scholarship-program.html

#5 – Will.i.am Scholarship Foundation (The I.Am.Angel Foundation): Established in 2009 by Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am (William J. Adams), this program is open to high school seniors who plan to attend a four-year college and pursue degrees in the STEM and arts fields. The scholarship covers all college expenses, including tuition, books, fees, and room and board for four years. The deadline to apply is in December 2016. Apply now at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2016/01/will-i-am-foundation-scholarship-i-am-angel-foundation.html

#6 – Burger King Scholars Program: The Burger King Scholars program is designed to help high-school seniors who are looking to start college next year. Annually, the program awards more than $1.4 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 students. Applicants must be residents of the United States or Canada, and must be graduating high school seniors. The deadline to apply is in December 2016. Apply now at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2012/03/burger-king-scholars-program.html

To view and apply for more 2016/2017 scholarships, visit www.ScholarshipsOnline.org


Photo Caption: Super producer/ rapper Will.i.am and Oprah giving away scholarships to African American student


Kirk, Durbin & Rush To Introduce Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Act

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Kirk, Durbin & Rush To Introduce Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Act

Legislation To Commemorate and Promote the Historic Cultural Resources in Chicago Mid-Southside Community


WASHINGTON, D. C. – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will introduce the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Act when Congress returns from recess on September 6.  Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) will be introducing companion legislation in the House. This legislation would create the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area to provide national recognition and resources to the story of African American perseverance from the Civil War to the modern day.  

“Providing national recognition to the rich historical and cultural influence of this area will generate economic development and encourage tourists from around the world to visit and be proud of the contributions the African-American community has made to Chicagoland, our state, and our nation,” said Senator Kirk

The Heritage Area will help bring to life the well documented impact of the African American community to Chicago’s culture and economy.  Since the Great Migration, when thousands of African American migrants moved North to escape oppression in the South, the proposed National Heritage Area recognizes the community that fostered the efforts of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Jesse Binga, Ida B. Wells, Jack Johnson, Nat King Cole, Mahalia Jackson, John Johnson, and Muddy Waters. The Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission, which includes First Lady Michelle Obama on its Steering Committee, has been collaborating with community leaders to fight for this recognition for years. The legislation authorizes up to $1 million in federal matching funds per year, designates the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission as the Local Coordinating Entity and establishes requirements for a management plan to be approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

“Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood has remarkable national historical significance, from its important role in America’s civil rights movement to its position as a national hub for the arts,” said Senator Durbin. “Our bill to elevate this unique neighborhood to national park status will help preserve the rich history of Bronzeville, increase tourism, and facilitate economic development in the community.”

“I live in the heart of the Bronzeville community and have for over 20 years. I see its beauty, majesty and its need for landmark recognition as it is the birthplace for much of the African American communities ingenuity, poetry, artistry and contributions to the City of Chicago,” said Representative Rush

“I thank Senator Kirk for leading this Congressional effort to solidify the legacy of the African-American community in our state at a pivotal moment in history. By establishing the National Heritage Area, tourists from our state and across the world will be able to explore and learn more about our community’s rich cultural and historical significance,” said Paula Robinson, President of the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission.

The City of Chicago’s Black Metropolis offers historical recognition to African American achievement in all segments of society, from business, to the arts, and politics. The historical significance of the region is also tied to the Great Migration of 1916-1970, when approximately 500,000 African Americans migrated north to Chicago for new opportunities. The introduction of the legislation coincides with the efforts of the Great Migration Centennial Commission which the Illinois legislature created in 2010 to promote a deeper knowledge, understanding, and engagement in the life and time of the African American Migration Experience.  The Illinois legislation requires the Centennial Commission to work in coordination with the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Project Steering Committee to broaden outreach and voluntary assistance to the effort.

The Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area is home to over 200 historical assets including: 

  • Camp Douglas: Union Army Recruitment and Training Camp
  • Eighth Regiment Armory: First armory in the U.S. built for an African American regiment
  • Abbot House: A National Historic Landmark, home of the founder of the Chicago Defender newspaper
  • Liberty Life/Supreme Life Insurance Company, HQ of most successful early African American owned and operated insurance company in the Northern US, founded in 1919
  • Bronzeville Walk of Fame: Monument to the Great Migration
  • Bud Billiken Parade: Celebrating Chicago’s youth since 1929

The Heritage Area is supported by the Chicago Urban League, the Chicago Community Trust, the Chicago Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois, the Millennium Reserve Steering Committee, and the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership. 

Legislative Background:

Senators Kirk and Durbin and Representative Rush have a history of collaborating for historical preservation in Illinois. In 2008, the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area was added to the National Heritage Area list. Then-Representative Kirk and Representative Rush were co-sponsors on the legislation. Senators Kirk and Durbin are working this year to extend the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. In February, 2015, Senators Kirk and Durbin celebrated President Obama’s designation of Chicago’s Pullman Historic District as a National Monument after they co-introduced legislation to create the Pullman National Historic Park in 2014.

Additional Help Coming to Illinois in the Battle Against the Heroin and Opioid Crisis

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Additional Help Coming to Illinois in the Battle Against the Heroin and Opioid Crisis

Illinois is one of 44 states to share in $53 million in grants to reduce opioid overdoses and deaths and improve treatment for residents


The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has received two federal grants funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to combat the heroin and other opioid crisis facing the state of Illinois. 


“Heroin and other opioid drug use is at crisis levels in Illinois. Substance use is ripping apart families and severely impacting our communities,” said IDHS Secretary James Dimas. “The $8 million in grants will enhance our efforts for individuals dependent on heroin and other opioids. We continue to work diligently to secure additional federal funding that will help support community-based prevention and treatment efforts. IDHS is committed to working with schools, community-based organizations and the recovery community, to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorders and ensure access to treatment.”


The Medication-Assisted Treatment Prescription Opioid Addiction grant was awarded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to the IDHS Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. This three year, $3 million grant will support an expansion of outpatient methadone treatment services and will reduce the waiting lists for heroin and other opioid dependent individuals seeking these services in Illinois. This grant will also support medication assisted treatment for offenders released from Sheridan Correctional Center who are at high risk for returning to heroin use (and high risk for overdose) upon release.


IDHS’ Division of Family and Community Services received the Prescription Drug Opioid Overdose Prevention Grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. This five year, $5 million grant is expected to reduce the number of overdose deaths in the following six high need counties: Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will, St. Clair, and Madison. A key component to this program will be the purchase and distribution of Naloxone kits to first responders.  Naloxone is the opioid overdose reversal drug that is critical to saving lives so people can get the treatment they need.


“Illinois, like the rest of the country, is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic and we must act now,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “According to the CDC, prescribing and sales of opioids have quadrupled since 1999 and more than three out of five drug overdose deaths involve an opioid.  This epidemic is devastating families and communities.  To stop this trend of opioid overdose, we must provide support and treatment to those suffering from opioid use disorders.  And to save lives, we must provide first responders with the resources needed for an individual who has overdosed.  It will take all of us, substance abuse and mental health providers, law enforcement, public health, first responders, communities, and others, to put an end to this epidemic.” 


Day Laborer Released After Civil Rights Complaint

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Day Laborer Released After Civil Rights Complaint

Advocates Gathered Wednesday to Call for Investigation Into Unlawful Raids


Advocates gathered Wednesday at a  Press conference and rally to announce the request for an investigation into the tactics used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers during a January 2016 raid at a Schaumburg church. This is the second request for a Civil Rights investigation into tactics used by the Chicago ICE office this month. The first request, which has led to an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security into potential civil rights violations, was submitted after three day laborers were racially profiled and taken to immigration detention in early August. Two of the three workers have been released, including one who was released on Monday after more than three weeks in detention.

 The press conference was held at 101 W. Congress, Outside of the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

A day laborer who was swept up in an Aug. 5 raid merely for appearing to be Latino was freed Monday following a civil rights complaint filed by the Latino Union of Chicago, Organized Communities Against Deportations, and Mijente.

At the Wednesday press conference, the immigrants rights advocates who helped win his release announced the filing of a second civil rights complaint, demanded a comprehensive investigation by the Department of Homeland Security of Chicago ICE Director Ricardo Wong’s unlawful racial profiling of local residents, and requested a full accounting of any role local police had in the unlawful raid.

“In the course of these raids, Wong’s officers have forced dozens of Latino residents to submit to unlawful searches and have lured community members out of their places of worship. What’s next – checkpoints outside grocery stores and churches?” asks Latino Union Director Analía Rodríguez.  “Wong’s illegal actions are terrorizing neighborhood residents and harming Chicago’s communities. We are joining together to say that racial profiling has no place in a city that is supposed to be Welcoming for immigrants.”

During the Aug. 5 raid, ICE agents arrived at the long-standing street corner hiring site at the corner of Belmont and Milwaukee. Workers report that without cause, the agents demanded that several Latino workers submit to having their hands scanned.

Following the raid, Latino Union, Organized Communities Against Deportations, Mijente and the #Not1More Campaign demanded an investigation into the civil rights violations that occurred in the operation, citing a long history of abuse.

More than 100 community members, outraged by this blatant example of racial profiling, attended a press conference on Tuesday Aug. 9 calling on ICE to release the detained workers.

The unlawful operations conducted by Chicago ICE Director Wong never would have been brought to light without their support, as well as intervention from Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th Ward), Ald. Carlos Rosa (35th Ward), the office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (4th District) and legal assistance from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. 

Kirk Statement on Secretary Kerry Urging Reporters Not to Cover Terrorism

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Kirk Statement on Secretary Kerry Urging Reporters Not to Cover Terrorism

Kerry shockingly says:  “Perhaps the media would do us all a service if they didn’t cover it quite as much. People wouldn’t know what’s going on.”

CHICAGO, IL —U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the U.S. State Department, today issued a statement after Secretary of State John Kerry said news media should not cover terrorist attacks so, in Kerry’s words, “People wouldn’t know what’s going on.”

“Kerry’s irresponsible comments feed into the public’s concerns after the Ben Rhodes scandal that the Administration wants the press to be an ‘echo chamber’ that perpetuates the White House’s preferred narrative instead of reporting the truth about ISIS terrorism, Iranian terrorism financing after the flawed nuclear deal, and other national security threats to the American people.”


At remarks in Bangladesh on August 29, 2016, Secretary of Kerry said:  “[I]f you decide one day you’re going to be a terrorist and you’re willing to kill yourself, you can go out and kill some people.  You can make some noise.  Perhaps the media would do us all a service if they didn’t cover it quite as much. People wouldn’t know what’s going on.”

Chicago Premiere of Frank Martin’s “The Love Potion” (“le Vin Herbe”) to be Staged by Chicago Opera Theater at the Music Box Theatre September 30 – October 9, 2016

Posted by Admin On September - 1 - 2016 Comments Off on Chicago Premiere of Frank Martin’s “The Love Potion” (“le Vin Herbe”) to be Staged by Chicago Opera Theater at the Music Box Theatre September 30 – October 9, 2016


COT Brings Live Opera Performance to Historic Cinema with Martin’s Mystical Adaptation of Tristan and Isolde Story

CHICAGO, IL – For the first time ever, Chicago’s iconic Music Box Theatre will host a classical live performance when Chicago Opera Theater (COT) debuts the Chicago premiere of Frank Martin’s 1942 “The Love Potion” (“Le Vin Herbe”) on September 30. Martin’s adaptation of the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde chronicles the relationship of the two lovers who meet by deception, fall in love by magic and pursue their love in defiance of heavenly and earthly powers. “The Love Potion” will be performed at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N Southport). The press performance will be Friday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Subsequent performances will be Oct. 1 and 9 at 3 p.m.  Due to a recently scheduled Chicago Cubs playoff game, there will be no performance on Oct. 7.

The oratorio begins with Tristan retrieving the reluctant Isolde so that she can be married to his uncle, King Mark. Isolde’s mother has brewed a love potion meant to enchant King Mark into falling in love with her daughter. Tristan and Isolde mistakenly drink the potion when their maid confuses it for wine and they fall irrevocably in love. King Mark discovers Tristan and Isolde’s love and declares vengeance. The lovers are able to escape the King and flee to the forest where they are quickly discovered propelling the story towards its climatic tragic end.

The libretto, originally by medievalist Joseph Bédier, was translated into English for this production by Hugh MacDonald.  “The Love Potion” will be conducted by Emanuele Andrizzi and directed and production designed by Chicago Opera Theater’s Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director Andreas Mitisek.

“Opera audiences are familiar with the story of Tristan and Isolde, thanks to Richard Wagner’s often-produced classic, but Martin’s take on this timeless tale is equally moving and musically hypnotic,” said Mitisek.  “One of our goals at Chicago Opera Theater is to bring our work to new audiences, and producing this work at the Music Box Theatre is in keeping with our mission.  It is an exceptional acoustic space and we are proud to bring this rarely seen work to Chicago audiences in a venue that serves it so well musically and aesthetically.”

Reviewing a 2013 production at the Berlin Staatsoper, A. J. Goldman of Opera News called Martin “distinctive and unjustly neglected” and called the piece “a work of startling economy and emotion” and that the composer had “succeeded in concocting a harmonically dense potion that, for all its dissonances, also goes down easy.” Bernard Holland, reviewing an earlier staging for the New York Times, called it “absolutely gripping… filled with dignity, mystery and a simplicity born of true sophistication… It ought to return so that more people can see and hear it.”  Jeremy Eichler, reviewing a 2014 Boston Lyric Opera production, called the piece “Mesmerizing… The score’s dissonant but ravishing musical language is a heady and highly personalized cocktail, indebted to Debussy yet at once updated and archaicized, its lulling waves giving voice to the characters’ strong emotions while at the same time keeping them at a precisely measured distance.”

Portraying the star-crossed lovers will be Lani Stait (Isolde) and Bernard Holcomb (Tristan).  Other principals include Brittany Loewen (Branghien), Kira Dills-Desurra (Isolde with White Hands), Cassidy Smith (Isolde’s Mother), Jonathan Weyant (Kaherdin), Nicholas Davis (King Mark) and Zacharias Niedzwiecki (Duke Hoël).  The ensemble includes Alexandra Martinez, Quinn Middleman, Patrick Dean Shelton and Samuel Weiser. The performers are members of COT’s Young Artists program, which is composed of students in the Professional Diploma in Opera Program at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts in conjunction with Chicago Opera Theater, headed by Scott Gilmore, The Director of Musical Studies at CCPA. 

Performance Schedule

Friday, September 30, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, October 1, 3 p.m.
Sunday, October 9, 3 p.m.

Subscriptions for the 2016/17 season are now on sale. Single tickets will go on sale on August 10, 2016. Tickets will range in price from $50 – $75 and can be purchased by calling 312.704.8414 or via chicagooperatheater.org.

The season continues on November 5 at the Studebaker Theater with three performances of “The Fairy Queen.” Composed in 1692 by Henry Purcell, “The Fairy Queen,” takes its inspiration from the mystical masques of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” creating the perfect world to explore relationships. On February 18, 2017, COT will present the co-world premiere with Long Beach Opera of “The Invention of Morel”. “Morel” is composed by Stewart Copeland and is based on “La invención de Morel” by Adolfo Bioy Casares. It is COT’s first-ever commissioned opera. The season will close with the Chicago premiere of Philip Glass’ 2013 “The Perfect American,” a fictionalized biography of Walt Disney’s life told through the musical lens of Philip Glass, melding delusions of the American Dream, immortality, and an empire.

Creative Team
Stage Director and Production Design: Andreas Mitisek
Conductor: Emanuele Andrizzi
Orchestra: Chicago Philharmonic

Emanuele Andrizzi – Conductor
Andrizzi conducted “A Coffin in Egypt” at Chicago Opera Theater in 2015.  Educated in the rich musical tradition of the Rome’s Conservatory as a conductor, composer, and pianist, Andrizzi has become a versatile musician with vast experience in the symphonic and operatic repertoires and a passion for the many areas of the musical arts. As a conductor, he has collaborated with various symphonic and operatic companies. In the past several years, he has conducted at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Diego Opera, Orchestradella Città di Ravenna, Chicago Philharmonic, Salt Creek Ballet, and New Philharmonic, among others. He has also collaborated with important music festivals, including the Millennium Park and the Ravinia Festivals.  In the next few months, Mr. Andrizzi is going to debut with several important operatic companies, among which the Opera Theater of St. Louis, where he will conduct a production of Puccini’s “La Bohème.”

An active teacher and performer, Andrizzi has worked since August 2013 as the Conductor and Head of the Orchestra Program at the prestigious Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He often collaborates with young artist programs, including the Ryan Opera Center, the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Young Artist Program. In addition, he has been invited to guest conduct in various university music programs, such as the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University where he recently conducted Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro,” after his earlier success in conducting “Così Fan Tutte.” He was the conductor of the Illinois All-State Orchestra in 2016 and is a recipient of the Honorable Mention award at the International Competition for Conductors of Contemporary Music “4X4 Prize” and a winner of the “P. Barrasso” International Competition for Chamber Music.

Andreas Mitisek – Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director
A native of Austria, Mitisek has been the General Director of COT since June of 2012. He has also been Artistic and General Director of Long Beach Opera (LBO) since 2003. Mitisek has been named “Chicagoan of the Year for Classical Music” by the Chicago Tribune in 2014 and was selected as one of the “25 people that will be a major force in the field of opera in the coming decade” by Opera News.

He recently directed and designed COT’s “gripping” (Chicago Tribune) “Macbeth” by Ernest Bloch in 2014. His other COT directing credits include ”La Voix Humaine” by Francis Poulenc, “Gianni Schicchi” by Giacomo Puccini, “Lucio Silla” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,“Therese Raquin” by Tobias Picker, “Maria de Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla and “The Emperor of Atlantis & The Clever One” by Viktor Ullmann and Carl Orff. Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Orpheus and Euridice,” at the Welles Park Pool in 2013, was critically and publicly acclaimed. Mitisek is on the board of directors for Opera America, the national service organization for U.S.  opera companies.

About Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago Opera Theater is an innovative, nationally recognized opera company that inspires a diverse community through immersive and thought-provoking opera experiences. COT, established in 1974 by Alan Stone, is a founding resident company of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. General Director Andreas Mitisek is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, fundraising skills and innovative audience-building initiatives.

Chicago Opera Theater has carved a significant place for itself in the operatic life of Chicago and has reached an audience of hundreds of thousands through its main stage performances, community engagement, education programs in Chicago Public Schools, as well as its renowned Young Artist Program.

Experience MORE OF THE DIFFERENT with Chicago Opera Theater!

For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit www.chicagooperatheater.org.

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