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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra Announces Its 2019-20 Season

2019-20 Elgin Symphony Orchestra Calendar

Music Director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) Andrew Hilary Grams announces the ESO’s 2019-20 season, which marks his seventh as music director. The season features a series of traditional musical masterpieces and exciting new Special Events that can be purchased separately, or as part of a personally-curated Build Your Own Series at a discount.  “We’ve spent many months taking a good look at programming and we learned a lot through research, post-concert surveys and focus groups,” notes Grams. “We listened to what you had to say and created concert programs with you in mind.  We think you’re going to love the results.” The Classics Series includes well-known pieces like Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, the great Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, and Ravel’s sensuous Bolero, as well as lesser-known works like Edward’s Maninyas Violin Concerto, Liszt’s dark Totentanz, Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and the romantic Wagner Siegfried Idyll, a deeply-personal work dedicated to his wife and family. “We offer programs of entertainment and exploration. We’re looking for Musical Explorers – passionate music lovers who venture beyond boundaries and genres and enjoy experiencing great music,” says Grams.

Due to popular demand for more options and flexibility, the ESO Pops Series is being restructured as Special Events.  These single ticket events may be combined to create a personal Build Your Own Series, or may be added to the Classics Series for discounts. The Build Your Own Series is our most popular option, offering savings on as few as three (3) concerts (excludes Abbey Road). Patrons can curate their own series based on schedule, budget and taste and receive benefits like presales on added events, free ticket exchanges, payment plans and half-price valet vouchers.  Tickets for the general public go on sale summer 2019. Single Ticket exchanges accepted for a five dollar ($5) per ticket fee.

The ESO introduces our exciting new 2019-20 Special Events – Bravo Broadway and Abbey Road concerts; Inside the Music, which explores musical masterpieces, and family-friendly programs Deck the Halls and Mariachi!. These concerts are available for purchase as single tickets or may be combined for savings in a Build Your Own Series. The ESO’s spectacular finale concert program May 2 & 3 includes the blockbuster masterpiece, The Planets, inspiration for composer John Williams’ Star Wars soundtrack! This sensational program is not-to-be-missed and may be added to a Classics Series for 20% savings or for 10% savings when part of a Build your Own Series.

 “We crafted a season that offers great traditional masterworks that are exciting to discover and experience, and fun, familiar entertainment perfect for all ages, like Bravo Broadway, Abbey Road and Mariachi! Whatever your choice, the ESO offers thrilling live performances of great music, and the opportunity to connect with others who share a passion for music.  And we serve it all up in the casual and informal environment today’s audience demands,” says Dave Bearden, ESO CEO. “At the ESO, we are ‘transforming the symphony experience,’ whether it’s by creating a more welcoming and casual ‘vibe’ at concerts, by offering opportunities for musicians and patrons to mingle after Saturday shows, or by creating new concert formats like Inside the Music, our motto at the ESO is Come as you are. Leave Transformed.”

The 2019-20 ESO Classics Series contains works by Bach, Chabrier, Debussy, Dvořák, Edwards, Elgar, Liszt, Mozart Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Respighi, Schoenberg, Strauss, Stravinsky, Verdi and Wagner. The season finale May 2 & 3 highlights the classical masterwork The Planets by Gustav Holst and can be added to a Classics or a Build Your Own Series at a discount.

New 2019-20 Special Events are Bravo Broadway October 4 & 5, Inside the Music with Andrew Grams & the ESO on November 1 and April 3, Deck the Halls December 14 & 15, Abbey Road: Tribute to the Beatles with Jeans ‘n Classics January 25, Mariachi! March 7 and Season Finale: The Planets May 2 & 3.  All are available as single tickets or as a part of a Build Your Own Series for a discount.

Music Director Andrew Grams opens the ESO 2019-20 season on September 14 and 15 with a dramatic and fiery program of works by Liszt and Rachmaninoff. Pianist Dinara Klinton, who last appeared with the ESO during the 2017-18 season, will perform Liszt’s haunting Totentanz and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The program also features the ESO premiere of the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s’ Symphony No. 3 and Liszt’s Les Preludes.  Andrew Grams will also conduct six (6) more ESO concerts:

  • Concerts on November 2 and 3, Dance!, feature Ravel’s famous Bolero, and other dance works, including Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet, Chabrier’s España and Australian composer Ross Edwards’ Maninyas Violin Concerto, which is based on rhythms and sounds found in nature and has been choreographed world-wide, notably for the San Francisco Ballet.  Guest artist Adele Anthony, violin will perform the work.  Grams will host the first of two Inside the Music with Andrew Grams & the ESO on Friday, November 1 at a new time, 7:30 pm, providing insight into Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet.
  • ESO audience favorite, pianist William Wolfram, returns to perform in concerts highlighting the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart January 10 at Prairie Center for the Arts, and January 11 & 12 at Hemmens Cultural Center.  Andrew Grams, an accomplished violinist, will play and conduct. The concerts open with Respighi’s Ancient Airs & Dances, Suite No. 1. Mr. Wolfram will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, and the program closes with Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.
  • On February 8 & 9, Music Director Andrew Grams will conduct The Power of Fate, featuring works by Verdi, Strauss and Wagner. Frank Rosenwein, principal oboe of the Cleveland Orchestra & an Evanston native, will perform Strauss’ sublime Oboe Concerto, an ESO premiere. Other works include Elgar’s In the South, also an ESO premiere, Verdi’s La Forza del Destino Overture and Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a romantic and intimate tone poem written for his wife Cosima.
  • Grams conducts an all-orchestral program April 4 & 5 that showcases the award-winning Elgin Symphony Orchestra, known nation-wide for their quality performances and high level of musicianship. The program holds Debussy’s evocative Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Schoenberg’s stunning Verklärte Nacht and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.  Grams will host Inside the Music with Andrew Grams & the ESO on Friday, April 3 at a new time, 7:30 pm, providing insight into Brahms’ Symphony No 3.
  • The 2019-20 season finale concerts on May 2 and 3 led by Andrew Grams highlight works by Gustav Holst-The Hymn of Jesus, featuring the Elgin Master Chorale and the piece, The Planets.
  • On March 7, Andrew Grams will conduct the Special Event, Mariachi!, featuring guest artists Mariachi Acero.
  • Guest conductor José Luis Gomez, music director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, leads Classics concerts November 23 & 24 that feature Isabella Lippi, ESO concertmaster and Eleanor Bartsch, ESO associate concertmaster, performing Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins. The program also includes Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 and the ESO premiere of Stravinsky’s Concerto in D, “Basel Concerto”.
  • Free ESO Listener Clubs, hosted by music historian Jim Kendros, are offered the Wednesday before 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.
  • Saturday night concertgoers are invited to “Mingle with the Musicians” after the show at area restaurants, where they can meet Music Director Grams, guest artists and ESO musicians.

Andrew Grams will host two (2) of the ESO’s popular, Inside the Music with Andrew Grams & the ESO Special Events, lively and informal presentations that use musical excerpts to explore a famous masterwork. Music Director Andrew Grams, a brilliant communicator, leads the discussion, with the Orchestra illustrating points by playing sections of the piece, and then pulling-it all together with a full performance of the work. This season, with a new start time of 7:30 pm, Inside the Music will examine Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet November 1 and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 April 3. 

Resident Conductor Stephen Squires will conduct three (3) programs during the 2019-20 season:

  • On October 4 at the Prairie Center for the Arts, and October 5 at the Hemmens Cultural Center, Squires will lead the ESO and guest soloists TBA in Special Event concerts, Bravo Broadway, featuring Broadway musical favorites throughout the years.
  • Squires will conduct the ESO’s holiday concerts, Deck The Halls, a popular tradition in the western suburbs, on December 14 and 15. These extravaganza performances include soloists, dancers, the Elgin Master Chorale and an appearance by a very special visitor from the North Pole.
  • Squires will lead the Special Event concert, Abbey Road: Tribute to the Beatles January 25 at Hemmens Cultural Center. Jeans ’n Classics guest star.

The ESO will also offer a variety of programming for young people and their families during the 2019-20 season. Ainsworth Concerts for Youth will bring around 8,000 area students to Hemmens Cultural Center with the ESO providing teachers guides prior to the performances to enhance the concert experience. ESO Masterclasses with visiting guest artists will be presented free and open to the public at the Gail Borden Public 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 Director of Community Engagement and Orchestra Personnel 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 2019-20 season with Advocate Sherman Hospital and Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital (Musicians Care), Food for Greater Elgin, Gail Borden Public Library, Rotary International, the Barrington Area Chamber, the Elgin Area Chamber, Elgin Development Group, and more.

ESO series renewal materials for the 2019-20 season are now available to current subscribers. Renewal deadline is March 29, 2019. New series orders are being accepted during the renewal period. Public on sale and ticket exchanges begin summer 2019 and tickets will be mailed in August 2019. For more information, call Patron Services Manager Audra Odzana at the ESO Box Office, 847-888-4000, Monday through Friday, 10:00 am-4:00 pm, email BoxOffice@ElginSymphony.Org, or visit our website at ElginSymphony.Org.

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. “Like” the ESO on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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 to critical acclaim. 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.  To learn more about Andrew Grams, visit andrewgrams.com, @andrewhilarygrams on Facebook and @andrewhgrams on Instagram and Twitter.

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 unique, music-themed gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique.  Pre-concert chats are given by Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before Classics Series performances and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians at area restaurants. In addition, free Listeners Club lecture/discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered before ESO Classics Series concert weekends on Wednesdays at 11 am at GreenFields of Geneva and 1 pm at the Gail Borden Public Library. Patrons can curate their own series with a Build your Own Series. If a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a small 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.  The ESO-Transforming the Symphony Experience. For more information, visit ElginSymphony.Org.


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