The Elgin Symphony Orchestra (of which I am a long-time member) was recently featured in a great extended article on the orchestral musician forum Polyphonic.org. The piece starts with some introductory information about the Elgin Symphony, and how, despite their (relatively) small budget, they are making big plans while being fiscally responsible:
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is a relatively small (their budget is about $3 million) suburban orchestra northwest of Chicago, yet they recently made a Copland recording for Naxos, the city of Elgin plans to build them a new hall, and they consistently operate with balanced budgets. What makes them so successful? The ESO appears to have been able to define who they are and what works for them, and to stick to that model, despite industry trends in different directions.
The article goes on to highlight the recent increase in services and musician pay, and it points out the the orchestra has become the highest paid orchestral ensemble in Illinois outside the city of Chicago:
In the late 1990s the ESO held an endowment drive whose primary purpose was to raise the pay offered to their musicians; they were successful and became Illinois’ highest paid orchestra outside of Chicago. Consequently, many free-lance musicians living in Chicago are attracted to the Elgin Symphony – some have even settled in Elgin – and the ESO has reached a new level of musical excellence.
This orchestra has certainly become more of a draw for top freelance musicians during my time in the ensemble. The quality of the concerts keeps getting better every year, and it is exciting to be a member of this organization!
Check out the full Polyphonic.org article here–it’s a great read.
Here’s a recent shot of the Elgin Symphony bass section. The players are (left to right): John Floeter, Jason Heath, Scott Rosenthal, Susan Sullivan, Kate Nettleman, Tim Shaffer.
- Presenting the Elgin Symphony Orchestra bass section
- Robert Orth with the Elgin Symphony
- My big moment (ESO performance story)
- Wing Park and the Elgin Symphony
- Freelance life