Chicago Sinfonetta founder Paul Freeman dead at 79

CHICAGO (AP) — Paul Freeman, the founder of the Chicago Sinfonetta, is dead at age 79.

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

Sinfonetta 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.

Freeman was born in Richmond, Virginia. He founded the Chicago Sinfonetta 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.

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