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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.

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ESO named Illinois’ 2016 Professional Orchestra of the Year

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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

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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.

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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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Elgin Symphony to Present Master Class with Cellist Lynn Harrell

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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra will host a master class with renowned cellist Lynn Harrell at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove, Elgin, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3.

Classes are free and open to the public. Students may apply for the opportunity to perform for Harrell. Applications are available for download on the ESO website, www.elginsymphony.org. The application deadline is Sept. 7.

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New contract for Grams in harmony with upgraded Hemmens sound system

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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra hosted a celebration party recently at the Anvil Club in East Dundee in honor of Music Director, Andrew Grams’ extended five-year contract. The event was well attended by staff, subscribers, and musicians.

Addressing those in attendance, Grams recalled “when Dave Bearden, ESO Chief Executive Officer approached me about extending my three year contract, I immediately knew what my answer would be. It was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. Everything has been going so well and the team is so great. I had no hesitation whatsoever.”

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Music Director aims to expand support for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra

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After signing a five-year contract to remain music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra through the 2020-2021 season, Andrew Grams said the deal allows him time to further establish the roots of the organization.

“The things I want to do here are somewhat amorphous in terms of the ensemble and team,” Grams said. “But toward the big picture, my goal is to make sure the symphony is better off artistically and financially and stronger than when I started.”

Having the five years also allows more flexibility in planning concert bills and booking guest artists, Grams said, as he hopes to sew a thread between pieces performed on those bills and from concert to concert and season to season.


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