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.