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Robert Baldwin, Leslie Henrie and Micah Fleming wondered for years why the Salt Lake City area didn't have a professional, free-standing chamber orchestra. Finally, the string players decided to start one.

"It's been a long time coming," said Baldwin, a violist who is director of orchestras at the University of Utah and music director of the Salt Lake Symphony. "When you talk to people about [the idea], they agree all the time. Now we have not only the people who think it should happen, but the people who can make it happen."

Sinfonia Salt Lake will perform its debut concert Monday night, Jan. 25, in downtown Salt Lake City's First United Methodist Church. The orchestra has a core of 15 string players (16 when Baldwin trades his baton for a bow), to be supplemented with other instruments as needed. For example, the opener will feature flutist Christina Castellanos, a busy free-lancer who said she's "elated" to be included. Castellanos will play the solo flute part in Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor. Violinists Henrie and Fleming will be featured, along with violist Leslie Richards and cellist Cassie Olsen, in Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Ernest Bloch's Concerto Grosso No. 1. Baldwin will conduct.

Baldwin and Henrie said the mix of Baroque and 20th-century music on the opening concert is typical of Sinfonia Salt Lake's approach to programming. "[The music of] Bach is still as valid today as it was 300 years ago," Henrie said. "It's still fun; it's still played by young musicians."

"We want to present a very eclectic mix," Fleming said. "This size of ensemble has been around so long, yet people still write music for it. [In the days of Bach and Mozart,] it was out of necessity because you couldn't get 100 musicians together — which now we take for granted — yet the small orchestral body still exists and is being written for."

Fleming said the ensemble's size will make for a more intimate concert experience. "It's not a humongous stage with a lot of instruments," he said. "It's still an orchestra experience, but on a much smaller scale and much closer."

There's a charitable component as well, Baldwin said. Central parts of the group's mission are providing outreach to underserved populations and teaming up with local charities. Concertgoers who bring nonperishable food items for the Utah Food Bank will get $5 off admission to Monday's concert.

Sinfonia Salt Lake will present another concert in May; the plan is for four or five concerts in subsequent seasons. The recently restored First United Methodist will be the orchestra's home base for now, but Baldwin pointed out that the group's size makes it "highly mobile." Already Sinfonia Salt Lake has been invited to perform a newly commissioned piece at the 2017 Utah Arts Festival on Library Square.

"I could see this ensemble playing anywhere — a church, a museum, an art center, a community center like [West Valley City's Cultural Celebration Center]," Baldwin said. "The possibilities in the future are really great." —

New orchestra on the block

Sinfonia Salt Lake will present its first concert.

When • Monday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.

Where • First United Methodist Church, 203 S. 200 East, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $20; $10 for students and seniors; $5 off with donation of one or more nonperishable food items for the Utah Food Bank;