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Inside the Music review from The Elgin Review

Jeffrey Pierce of The Elgin Review has published a review of ESO’s November 3, 2017 Inside the Music with Andrew Grams-Beethoven 7 concert:

Bringing the Music from the Inside Out

Since Andrew Grams took over as Music Director in 2013, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra has been systematically updating its programming by reaching outward from all areas of the organization, not the least of which being the stage of the Hemmens Cultural Center.

Some people have always regarded a classical music concert as a test of etiquette governed by special rules known only to highly cultured individuals. Like wine appreciation, it was considered a game for snobs. But in recent years, just as the wine business has expanded through a populist outreach centered around consumer education, a similar approach is being skillfully and intentionally employed by the ESO.

It started when Maestro Grams brought his unrestrained conducting style to the podium, and his personal accessibility to the Elgin social scene. Numerous appearances at local club meetings, in the media, at hospitals and libraries, and at casual mixers like the post-concert “Mingle with the Musicians” offered exposure for his outgoing personality and gift of gab.

Inevitably this style found its way into the concert hall, where Grams developed a warm, witty rapport with audiences on a par with any professional emcee. Seen from the stage, the main auditorium at the Hemmens looks like a university lecture hall, and perhaps this contributed to his increasing tendency to indulge in colorful remarks on composers and their music.

Having relaxed almost all stiffness out of the concert experience, the next logical step was to demystify the music itself. The ESO Listeners Club, pre-concert chats and program notes have always served that purpose, but they appeal to listeners who are already engaged, loyal patrons.

With the help of visual aids, Music Director Andrew Grams explains the historical context of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

In order to reach a larger public, the ESO created the “Inside the Music” format to apply Grams’ knowledge and charisma to the task of audience education. The result is a hybrid event consisting of a music appreciation class complete with multimedia and live orchestral excerpts, followed by a full performance of a major work from the classical repertoire. The latest in this series featured Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

“He was not just some mysterious brooding genius,” Grams said of Beethoven the man. “He worked for a living; he fell madly in love; he was a human being.” The orchestra patiently demonstrated short passages, melodies, rhythms and even single notes to illustrate Grams’ analysis of the symphony’s building blocks. His message was that the music wasn’t so much superhuman in its origin, but simply a product of superb craftsmanship of a kind that anyone with a talent or skill can understand.

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

Beethoven seems to bring out the best in an orchestra, and Grams in his shirt sleeves was joyously animated in conducting the four-part masterpiece after intermission. The audience didn’t just clap after the allegro, they actually chortled at the Maestro’s jests.

In some future or parallel universe, the symphony players themselves might expand their direct contact with the concert hall audience, but for now it’s the sparkle and glow of the conductor that influences how we feel about these performances. Grams seems to love working in this informal atmosphere, and honestly, when the music is this good, it doesn’t need any added ritual to enhance its quality or importance.

The next “Inside the Music” event is set for Friday, March 23, 2018 at 8pm, featuring Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations. For tickets and more information, go to www.elginsymphony.org.

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Nick Kubiak is a 2017-18 Marketing Intern at the Elgin Symphony Orchestra

Woodstock, IL native Nick Kubiak is a 2017-18 intern in the Marketing Department at the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO). Kubiak is a 2016 graduate of Woodstock High School, where he played varsity basketball for all four years, in addition to being in the top 20% of his class. He is currently attending Judson University in Elgin, and will be a sophomore in the fall.  Kubiak is a marketing major, with a minor in film and video. He previously ran a blog on Facebook centered on reviewing music, gaining 700 followers over the course of a year.

In his role at the ESO, Kubiak will assist in creating and implementing a social media plan to help spread awareness of the ESO to a wider audience. In addition, Kubiak will conduct research on social media advertising, subscription packages, and pricing, while also writing press releases. “We are excited to have Nick Kubiak join the ESO marketing team,” says Director of Marketing Diane Handler.  “His knowledge and experience with social media, and his passion for music and film, will be very valuable as we focus on reaching a broad audience of music lovers.”

Judson University is a Christian college nestled along the Fox River in the city of Elgin and is home to over 1,250 students from 30 states and 20 countries. Judson offers more than 50 undergraduate majors, minors and pre-professional programs. Judson University is an active “citizen” of the City of Elgin and is committed to serving the city’s needs through strong partnerships with businesses, schools and non-profit agencies. In 2013, Judson University celebrated its Golden Centennial Anniversary, celebrating fifty years since the college’s relocation to Elgin in 1963. For more information, see judsonu.edu.

Now in its 67th season, the ESO offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016 – and works to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available.  Area student musicians often perform in the lobby before concerts and patrons can purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique.  Pre-concert chats are given by Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians. In addition, free Listeners Club lecture/discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered before ESO Classics Series concert weekends on Wednesdays at 1 pm at the Gail Borden Public Library. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a $5 fee. The ESO is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located in the western suburbs.  For more information, see ElginSymphony.Org.

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Niesa Patton Promoted to Marketing and Special Events Manager at Elgin Symphony Orchestra

Niesa Patton has been promoted to Marketing and Special Events Manager at the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO). Ms. Patton has worked at the ESO for four years and previously held the positions of Marketing Assistant, and Development and Special Events Coordinator. Before coming to the ESO, Ms. Patton was the Membership Services Associate at the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Springfield, IL. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Illinois Springfield.

In her role at ESO, Ms. Patton oversees the volunteer usher program, assists the Director of Marketing with major marketing campaigns, and manages special events including donor receptions, fundraisers, and the annual Business Networking event. For more information about the ESO’s many programs in the community and to learn how to donate, visit ElginSymphony.Org.

Diane Handler, ESO Director of Marketing, commented on Ms. Patton’s promotion: “Niesa Patton has been a valued employee for four years and has proven to be smart, efficient and dedicated to her work. I’m looking forward to her assistance and her creative ideas in her role as Marketing & Special Events Manager, as we develop and implement the organization’s marketing and sales goals.”

Now at the end of its 66th season, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016, and Music Director Andrew Grams was named the 2015 Illinois Conductor of the Year. The ESO is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs. For more information, see ElginSymphony.Org.

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ESO Board President Karen Schock wins YWCA Elgin Volunteer & Community Service Award

Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) Board President Karen Schock is the winner of the 2017 YWCA Elgin Volunteer & Community Service Award. She and other winners were honored at the 34th Annual Leader Luncheon on Thursday, May 11. Guest speaker was State Senator Cristina Castro.  For more information, see ywcaelgin.org. In addition to being a 30-year subscriber to the ESO with her husband Ed, Karen Schock has been an ESO Trustee since 2007, a member of the board since 2009 and was elected Board President 2013, a position she will hold until June 2017.  Ms. Schock has worked tirelessly through the decades to make the Elgin community a better place to live and work. Through the years, she has been involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Elgin, Gail Borden Library Foundation, Food for Greater Elgin, Elgin Heritage Foundation, and Gifford Park & East Side Neighborhood Associations. 

Karen Schock was the founding co-chair of the Gail Borden Library Foundation Annual Book Sale which offers books for sale through six different venues, raising funds which support special projects and exhibits at the library including the summer reading program, the Robot Zoo, Discover Space, and the upcoming Dinosaur exhibit.  To date they have raised over $250,000 for library activities and projects with a product price-point of only $1 and $2.  A longtime member of the Elgin Heritage Commission, Ms. Schock served as both the Chair and Vice Chair. During her Vice Chair term, the commission passed the Historic Preservation Ordinance.  She also co-authored the book “Elgin’s Heritage: Architecture” which explores the historical and economic circumstances which gave rise to different architectural housing styles in Elgin since 1845. Ms. Schock also served as a docent for the Gifford Park House Walk and co-authored the Gifford Park Association House Walk Booklet in 1989.

Ms.  Schock was honored by the Boys & Girls Club as their Volunteer of the Year for her work with at-risk youth. As the Chair and Founder of the Keeping the Promise Foundation, she helps students fulfill their dream of going to college.  Ms. Schock was a founding member and the chair of the Elgin Charter School Initiative, where she recruited members to the Design Committee and oversaw the application process. She coordinated the work of different sub-committees, presented the proposed program to the community at large, as well as various groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, neighborhood groups, etc.), and coordinated the work between the Elgin volunteers and their partners in the process.  She was the primary spokesperson to the community and to the newspapers.

Ms. Schock is currently volunteering at Food for Greater Elgin as a facilitator as they go through their strategic planning process. She has even found ways to support the community through acting, in both the Elgin Cemetery Walk and in the play Love, Loss and What I Wore, which raised over $5000 for the Community Crisis Center.

Ms. Schock is a board member of East Side Neighbors, board member and president of the North East Neighborhood Association, board member and chair of the Elgin Heritage Commission and member of the Neighborhood Housing Authority Board of Directors.

The YWCA Leader Luncheon is attended by hundreds of community leaders, business and community representatives and volunteers to acknowledge and honor women in Elgin and the surrounding communities who have made significant contributions to the Arts, Business & Professions, Communications/Technology, Education, Public Service, Social Service, Volunteer/Community Service and Racial Justice. YWCA Elgin is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. 

Now at the end of its 66th season, the ESO offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016. The ESO works to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available.  Area student musicians often perform in the lobby before concerts and patrons can purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique.  Pre-concert chats are given by Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians at the Elgin Public House.  In addition, free Listeners Club lecture/discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered before ESO Classics Series concert weekends on Wednesdays at Greenfields of Geneva and the Gail Borden Public Library. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a $5 fee. The ESO is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs. For more information, see ElginSymphony.Org.

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Emily Brownfield Named Elgin Symphony Orchestra Director of Corporate and Grant Development

Emily Brownfield has been named Director of Corporate and Grant Development at the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO). Ms. Brownfield comes to the ESO with experience in both the business and non-profit world. She most recently was the Executive Director at a small nonprofit in Rochester, MN called Brighter Tomorrows, which supports families of children with pediatric cancer. She wore many hats there, including fundraising and grant writing.  For more information about the ESO’s many programs in the community and to learn how to donate, visit ElginSymphony.Org.

Cheryl Wendt, Chief Development Officer of the ESO, commented on the appointment: “We are thrilled to have a professional with Emily’s experience join our development team. She has the knowledge and can-do spirit that will help the ESO continue to grow and be a vibrant part of our community. As funding of cultural institutions has changed drastically over the last decade, the growth of our corporate sponsorships is vital, and this is the area Emily will concentrate most of her time on. We love our corporate partners and look forward to developing relationships with even more of them.”

Ms. Brownfield has her bachelor’s degree in theater from Gustavus Adolphus College and a master’s degree in Philanthropy & Non-Profit Management from the University of Northern Iowa.  She remarked, “I am so excited to be supporting and advocating for the arts in my new role at the ESO.”  Ms. Brownfield is originally from the Quad Cities.  She and her husband Chad recently moved to St. Charles, IL.

Now at the end of its 66th season, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016, and Music Director Andrew Grams was named the 2015 Illinois Conductor of the Year. The ESO is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs.  For more information, see ElginSymphony.Org.

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ESO Board Member Sterling Ainsworth wins 2017 Volunteer of the Year from the Illinois Council of Orchestras

Sterling (Stu) Ainsworth

Longtime arts supporter and Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) board member, Sterling (Stu) Ainsworth has been named 2017 Volunteer of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras (ICO). A panel of judges drawn from the Illinois Council of Orchestras Board of Directors, and of independent professional musicians, reviewed nominations representing orchestras, youth orchestra and chamber ensembles from throughout Illinois.  Presentation of Mr. Ainsworth’s award will take place at an upcoming ESO concert. Due in no small part to the tireless work of Mr. Ainsworth and other ESO volunteers, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 & 2016, and Music Director Andrew Grams was named Conductor of the Year in 2015. To learn more about the award-winning ESO, see ElginSymphony.Org.

Sterling (Stu) Ainsworth joined the ESO Board of Directors in 2002 and has been an extremely active and generous member. He is also the Education Chair of the Board of Directors and serves as a chair of the Education and Community Outreach committee. As part of the Education committee, Mr. Ainsworth volunteers at the ESO’s Concerts for Youth every spring as an usher and works the check-in table at ESO Family Concerts. He helps volunteer for our auction fundraisers and works at getting auction items from his many community connections.

Because of Mr. Ainsworth’s support and passion for music education programs, the ESO recently renamed the Kidz Konzerts and Music in the Middle, which serve over 8,500 students a year, to Ainsworth Concerts for Youth. “Stu Ainsworth has been one of the ESO’s greatest champions,” says Education Manager Wendy Evans. “He supports the program with great enthusiasm, volunteerism, friendship and generosity. These concerts are now named for Stu Ainsworth in gratitude for all that he has done for the Elgin Symphony’s education programs.”

Mr. Ainsworth is also involved in many other arts organizations in the Fox Valley area. He is a strong supporter of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO); served as a Board member, as well as Board President, of the Elgin Choral Union (now Elgin Master Chorale); he was a board member and event chairman for the St. Charles Art & Music Festival and has co-chaired seven of the past eight American Grand presentations. Mr. Ainsworth is also highly involved with Kiwanis International as a Past-President and is a current member of the St. Charles Noon Club, as well as a Past-Lieutenant Governor of Division 10.

A native of northwest Iowa, Ainsworth graduated from Iowa State College with a degree in Agriculture.  His entire professional career was devoted to commercial agriculture, with emphasis on control of insects and weeds.  Prior to his retirement from Abbott Laboratories in 1990, as manager of Global Agricultural Projects, Mr. Ainsworth held positions in field sales, marketing, product management, and sales management for large chemical businesses, including Dow Chemical, CIBA-Geigy, and International Minerals & Chemicals.   Mr. Ainsworth is a founding member of the Fox Valley Rovers Travel Group (with 32 members) and enjoys traveling, gardening, and hiking. Mr. Ainsworth’s wife Tammy passed in 1993.  They have four sons and four grandchildren.

The Illinois Council of Orchestras was founded in 1974 with the mission, to encourage, promote and assist orchestras throughout the state of Illinois; to promote an exchange of information among members, including providing consultants and speakers; and to hold educational conferences for member organizations, including musicians, staff, boards, volunteers and audiences.  For more information, see ilcouncilorchestras.org.

With a unique combination of intensity, enthusiasm and technical clarity, American conductor Andrew Grams has steadily built a reputation for his dynamic concerts and long-term orchestra building.  He is the winner of 2015 Conductor of the Year from the Illinois Council of Orchestras and has led orchestras throughout the United States including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, The Dallas Symphony, and the Houston Symphony.  Mr. Grams served as Assistant Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra from 2004-2007 where he worked under the guidance of Franz Welser-Möst, and has since returned for several engagements.

2016-2017 marks Mr. Grams’ fourth season as Music Director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Born in Severn, Maryland, Mr. Grams began studying the violin when he was eight years old. In 1999 he received a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from The Juilliard School, and in 2003 he received a conducting degree from the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller. He was selected to spend the summer of 2003 studying with David Zinman, Murry Sidlin and Michael Stern at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and returned to that program again in 2004. To learn more about Andrew Grams, visit andrewgrams.com and https://www.instagram.com/andrewhgrams/

Now in its 66th season, the ESO offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016. The ESO works to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available.  Area student musicians often perform in the lobby before concerts and patrons can purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique.  Pre-concert chats are given by Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians at the Elgin Public House.  In addition, free Listeners Club lecture/discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered before ESO Classics Series concert weekends on Wednesdays at 1 pm at the Gail Borden Public Library. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a $5 fee. The ESO is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs.

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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra Announces Its 2017/18 Season

Music Director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) Andrew Grams and Chief Executive Officer David Bearden announce the ESO’s 67th season. The 2017/18 season marks Grams’ fifth as music director, and he has extended his contract through the 2020/21 season. The season features many beloved masterworks and lesser known classical pieces, with six (6) works never having been performed by the ESO. It also includes the ESO debuts of several up-and-coming guest artists, and two (2) pops concerts, including John Williams-A Steven Spielberg Tribute.

Andrew Grams leads seven (7) weeks of subscription programs with the ESO during the 2017/18 season, and will present Musically Speaking pre-concert chats before each Classic Series performance. Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3, Copland’s Our Town, Glass’s Saxophone Concerto, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12 “The Year 1917” and Bernstein’s Candide Suite are all receiving their ESO premieres this season. Grams will also conduct the Williams-Steven Spielberg tribute, which includes music from such favorite films as E.T. Hook, Indiana Jones and more.

Andrew Grams and the ESO will host two (2) Inside the Music with Andrew Grams events, lively and fun 90-minute presentations that use visuals and musical excerpts to explore masterworks that will be presented in upcoming concerts.  This season, Inside the Music will examine Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

“This season we offer an exciting mix of beloved traditional works by Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky, as well as pieces by modern American composers Bernstein, Copland and Glass,” says Music Director Grams. “And back by popular demand, our fun and informal Inside the Music programs are designed to lift the veil on how great orchestral music works it magic on us.”

The ESO Classics Series contains works by Beethoven, Bernstein, Brahms, Copland, Dvořák, Elgar, Glass, Liszt, Mahler, Mozart, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi.

  • Grams opens the ESO 2017/18 season on September 16 and 17 with Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3, an ESO premiere, and Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring pianist Dinara Klinton making her ESO debut.
  • Concerts on November 4 and 5 feature Philip Glass’s hauntingly beautiful Saxophone Concerto, performed by Amy Dickson, saxophone, making her ESO debut. The program also holds the ESO premiere of Copland’s Our Town and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Grams will host the first of two Inside the Music with Andrew Grams on Friday, November 3, providing insight into Beethoven’s 7th.
  • Guest violinist Bella Hristova returns to play Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, an ESO premiere, January 5-7. The program also includes Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (for orchestra) and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6.
  • Grams will conduct a program of choral works on February 10 and 11 that holds the magnificent Mozart Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria and features the Elgin Master Chorale.
  • Guest Conductor Edwin Outwater leads the ESO in debut performances of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12, “The Year 1917” and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with William Wolfram, piano, on March 3 & 4.
  • Andrew Grams will conduct a program that features the ESO debut of Sphinx Competition winner Thomas Mesa, cello, in a performance of the masterwork, Elgar’s Cello Concerto. The program also holds Brahms’ Haydn Variations and Elgar’s Enigma   Grams will host an Inside the Music event analyzing and explaining the Elgar Enigma Variations on Friday, March 23 at 8 pm.
  • The season finale on May 5 and 6, is an all-orchestral program highlighting the award-winning ESO and conducted by Music Director Andrew Grams. The concerts feature the ESO premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Suite, part of the worldwide celebration, Bernstein at 100, and also includes Mahler’s 5th Symphony.

In addition, Grams will conduct the pops concert, John Williams- A Tribute to Steven Spielberg, on January 27 & 28. The program includes music from E.T., Hook, Jaws, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and more.

ESO Listener Clubs, hosted by music historian Jim Kendros, are offered before the Classics Series performances at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin and Greenfields in Geneva. Free and open to the public, Kendros discusses the composers and the music that will be presented in upcoming concerts. And all Saturday night concertgoers are invited to “Mingle with the Musicians” after the show at the Elgin Public House, where they can meet Music Director Grams and ESO musicians.

Resident Conductor Stephen Squires will conduct two (2) programs during the 2017/18 season:

  • On October 6 at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts, and October 7 and 8 at the Hemmens Cultural Center, Squires will lead the ESO and guest artists Rich and Branden Ridenour in “I Love A Piano”, featuring classical masterworks to today’s popular favorites.
  • Squires conducts the Magical Holiday concerts, a seasonal favorite with ESO audiences, on December 9 and 10. The performances have become a holiday tradition, the highlight of which is a very special visitor from the North Pole.

The ESO will also offer a variety of programming for young people and their families. Ainsworth Concerts for Youth will bring around 9,000 area students to Hemmens Cultural Center with the ESO providing teachers guides prior to the performances to enhance the concert experience. This year’s program, Compose Yourself, is an interactive concert by James Stephenson, designed to introduce children to the instruments of the symphony orchestra. Master classes with visiting guest artists will be presented free and open to the public at the Gail Borden Public Library. Two (2) free Family Concerts will take place during the 2017/18 season, also hosted by the Library.  And finally ESO Traveling Ensembles will visit area schools giving students the chance to hear classical music up close and personal. For more information, contact Education Manager Wendy Evans at w.evans@ElginSymphony.Org or 847-888-0404, ext. 238.

In addition, the ESO will continue its collaborations in the community during the 2017/18 season with Advocate Sherman Hospital (Musicians Care), Food for Greater Elgin, Toys for Tots, Rotary International, the Elgin Development Group, and more.

ESO subscription renewal materials and new subscriptions for the 2017/18 season are now available. Grand, Classics, Pops & Schaumburg renewals and new subscriptions are due March 31, 2017. Subscription ticket exchanges and Build Your Own Series subscription sales begin April 10, 2017. For more information, ESO patrons may call the ESO Box Office at 847-888-4000, Monday through Friday, 10:00 am-4:00 pm.

Patrons may also visit ElginSymphony.Org to learn more about the ESO’s many activities in the community, read program notes, find area restaurants, hotels and parking information, make a donation and find out how to sponsor a program or series.

Andrew Grams became music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in June 2013 after an international search. A graduate of the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, he holds degrees in violin performance and conducting and has appeared with many of the great orchestras of the world.  Grams was a protégé of Franz Welser-Möst and served as assistant conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra for three years. Named 2015 Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, his charismatic conducting and easy accessibility have made him a favorite of Elgin Symphony audiences.  He has extended his contract with the ESO through 2021. To learn more about Andrew Grams, visit andrewgrams.com and https://www.instagram.com/andrewhgrams/

Now in its 66th season, the ESO offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016 – and works to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available.  Area student musicians often perform in the lobby before concerts and patrons can purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique.  Pre-concert chats are given by Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians at the Elgin Public House.  In addition, free Listeners Club lecture/discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered before ESO Classics Series concert weekends on Wednesdays at 1 pm at the Gail Borden Public Library. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a $5 fee. The ESO is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs.  For more information, see ElginSymphony.Org.

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ESO wins Honorable Mention for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence from the Axelson Center

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra was awarded an honorable mention for exemplary nonprofit management practices from the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at a recent awards luncheon.

“Winning the Alford-Axelson honor is not about just getting an award, it’s part of the process of learning who you are as an organization. So we thank the Axelson Center for helping us do that,” said ESO CEO David Bearden.

In reviewing the nonprofit organizations that were nominated for this year’s awards, the Axelson Center selection committee considered the following criteria: clear, compelling and well-communicated mission and vision, coherent organizational strategy that aligns programs and services to mission and goals, strong leadership by staff and board, solid financial management, diversified funding model, and a well-developed fundraising and external relations program.

Read the full article.

 

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ESO named Illinois’ 2016 Professional Orchestra of the Year

Read the full article.

The Illinois Council of Orchestras recently named the Elgin Symphony Orchestra the 2016 Professional Orchestra of the Year.

“This is a proud honor for the symphony,” ESO CEO Dave Bearden said.

Bearden said the award reflected not only on the quality of the ESO’s performances, but more broadly on the quality of its board and on the orchestra’s financial shape.

The ESO also took the top orchestra honor in 1988, 1999 and 2005, and Bearden noted that the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra is not among those vying for the council’s honors. “The honor does represent a level of excellence across the state,” Bearden said. “We have great community support, and a great board. This is an affirmation of everything we do and of how far we’ve come in the last few years.”

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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra Announces Its 2016-17 Season

Be Connected. Experience ESO!

andrew_grams-ESO_0569Music Director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) Andrew Grams and Chief Executive Officer David Bearden announce the ESO’s 66th season. The 2016/17 season marks Grams’ fourth as music director, and he recently extended his contract through the 2020-21 season. The season features many beloved masterworks and lesser known pieces, and the ESO debuts of several up-and-coming guest artists.

Andrew Grams leads seven (7) weeks of subscription programs with the ESO during the 2016/17 season, and will present Musically Speaking pre-concert chats before each of these performances. In addition, he will host a new program Inside the Music with Andrew Grams, lively 90-minute presentations that use visuals and musical excerpts to explore in-depth two masterworks to be presented in upcoming concerts, Stravinsky’s Petrushka (1947) and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4.

“This season is sure to please traditional classical music lovers since it features beloved works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky,” says Grams. “Our Inside the Music programs are designed to lift the veil on how great orchestral music works it magic on us. In a relaxed and casual setting, the ESO and I will show audiences what makes a masterpiece tick and how all the small parts make up the greatest whole.”

Grams’ classical programs contain works by Beethoven, Brahms, Dukas, Liadov, Mahler, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Respighi, Saint-Saëns, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Vaughn Williams, and include many works that haven’t been performed by the ESO before.

Read the entire Press Release

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Diane K. Handler Named Elgin Symphony Orchestra Director of Marketing

Diane-K-HandlerDiane K. Handler has been named Director of Marketing at the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Handler previously worked as the director of the University of Iowa arts outreach program, Arts Share, and as Media Relations Manager at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  She also worked at the Merit School of Music as marketing director and at WBZ-TV Boston as an assistant producer.

A St. Charles resident, she served on the Steel Beam Theatre board of directors as chair of the marketing committee and volunteered with the Saint Charles Arts Council.  For the past two years, she has also produced the People for the Arts or P-ARTS Variety Show at East High School, the largest fundraiser for the organization and a featured program of ARTSFest St Charles.

Handler has a BA in International Relations, an MA in Journalism and a JD with distinction in Public Service.  She and her husband Brian have two (2) daughters – Nadia, a junior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities studying biology and business and Mara, a senior at St Charles East High School.  Handler studied voice at Millikin with Emily McKnight, at Boston University with Phyllis Curtin and with Lucille Halfverson and Neva Baily at the Merit School of Music.

Dave Bearden, CEO of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, commented on the appointment of Diane. “We are very fortunate to find a person of Diane’s background and experience for this vital position. Her familiarity with the area as well as her deep connection to so many cultural organizations makes her the ideal candidate to create new marketing programs and campaigns that attract new patrons and new demographics. We look forward to her creativity and unique perspective to better serve our current and future patrons.”

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ESO Music Director Andrew Grams Conducts Copland and Shostakovich Jan 30 and 31 at Hemmens Cultural Center

Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) Music Director Andrew Grams conducts Copland and Shostakovich on Saturday, January 30, 7:30 pm and Sunday, January 31, 2:30 pm at Elgin’s Hemmens Cultural Center. Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring tells the story of a family of early pioneers who enthusiastically embrace the American dream of unlimited possibilities in the land of opportunity. Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 depicts the violence and bloodshed of the 1905 Russian Revolution. The program will transport audiences to these two very different worlds existing at the same time in history. Tickets start at $30 and concertgoers are invited to attend a Musically Speaking pre-concert chat with Andrew Grams one hour prior to the performance. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 847-888-4000 or visit ElginSymphony.org.

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Elgin Symphony Wins Grant to Perform More American Music

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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra will be featuring a piece of American classical or contemporary music in every concert during the 2015-16 season beginning Oct. 3, officials said Monday.

It will be funded through a $4,000 American Music Project Grant award. American Music Project is a new, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and underwriting performances of old American classical music and selectively commissioning new works from American composers.

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