​The Chicago Arts Orchestra was established by a group of musicians and creative artists to perform great music and to make music accessible and affordable. Comprised of professional musicians with active performance schedules in Chicago, the CAO aims to achieve its mission by providing educational opportunities for the community through the performance of historic and new orchestral music. The CAO seeks to be innovative in its programming and presentation of concerts. photo: Joel McGinty




​Javier José Mendoza is the Artistic Director of the Chicago Arts Orchestra. Under Mendoza’s direction, the CAO has consistently been named a “Critics Pick” by Time Out Chicago and a “Recommend” by the Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein. Early Music Today praises the CAO by saying “the Chicago Arts Orchestra plays terrifically,” and Steven Ritter of Audiophile Audition claimed that the CAO is an “exciting group for sure.” In 2014 Mendoza led the CAO to being named “Professional Orchestra of the Year” by The Illinois Council of Orchestras. Mendoza’s work with the CAO can be heard on the album, AL COMBATE, from Navona Records. In 2017 Mendoza led the CAO on tour to Mexico City with performances at the Catedral Metropolitana, Anfiteatro Simón Bolivar, and Sala Nezahualcóyotl at the invitation of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.


Mendoza is active in a movement to unearth and re-debut forgotten works from viceregal Latin America and is energetically re-premiering pieces in an effort to bring this wonderful music back into public awareness. He has presented lectures on this subject at Loyola University-Chicago, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Chicago Campus), Virginia Tech, Instituto Cervantes, International University of Andalucía, and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.


Mendoza appeared as a conductor with the CAO at the Chicago Latino Music Festival from 2015-17. He has served as guest conductor with Opera Maya in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Here, Mendoza presented the first orchestral concert performed at Tulum, one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya. Mendoza has performed with the CAO and Opera Maya across Mexico including performances in San Miguel de Allende, Campeche, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Chetumal. Other international performances include appearances with the State Philharmonic of Sibiu, Romania, the Camerata Antonio Soler in El Escorial, Spain, and as guest conductor at the University of Copenhagen. Recent highlights include engagements in Bolivia, Chicago, and Madrid. Mendoza is also active in training the next generation of orchestral musicians, and as such serves as the Director of Orchestral Studies at the Florida International University School of Music in Miami FL.


Photo: Melanie West






ALEXA GRÆ is a multi-disciplinary artist. They are a graduate of Northwestern University where they received a master’s degree in Vocal Performance and Literature and a Certificate in Performance, and they also received bachelor's degrees in Vocal Performance and Composition from Texas Tech University. They have performed with companies such as Haymarket Opera Company, Madison Opera, and Elements Contemporary Ballet. In 2018 GRÆ released their first studio song cycle titled Seen, a mix of genres spanning from classical art song to house music accompanied by the premiere of Sur La Nuit an operatic/electronic music video.


Eleanor Mendoza, soprano, performs early music, chamber music, and opera. Over the last ten years, Mendoza has performed with the CAO internationally in Mexico and nationally in Chicago, New Mexico, and Indiana. Mendoza is currently a voice professor at Barry University in Miami FL. Mendoza earned a master’s degree from Mannes Conservatory at The New School for Music in NYC and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from The University of New Mexico. She has performed such roles as Susannah in The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, Yum Yum in the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan, and the role of Nannetta in Falstaff by Verdi.


Nythia Martínez has had the privilege of being choral and musical theater director at Northside College Preparatory High School since 2004. Martínez is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Music, where she earned a Master’s of Vocal Performance in 2004 and both a Bachelor’s of Vocal Performance (B.M.) and Music Education (B.M.E.) in 2002. Notable performances/accolades include: sharing the stage with acclaimed jazz pianist Fred Hersch in Bloomington’s premiere of his work, Leaves of Grass; being a finalist in the Carnegie Hall / Dianne Reeves Workshop for Jazz Vocalists; appearing with the Barber Brothers Quintet at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.; being a Chicago Music Award Nominee in the category of “Best Female Vocalist”; and working as vocalist of the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (CALJE) since 2006.  Most recently, Martínez was a featured artist at the 2019 Chicago Latin Jazz Festival sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago and regularly performs with the Newberry Consort.



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