ESO, Musicians agree to two-year contract, helping secure fiscal sustainability while enhancing community engagement
(August 17, 2022 -- Elgin, Ill.) The Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) and its musicians have agreed on a mutually beneficial two-year contract that lays the groundwork for sustainability and growth for the award-winning Symphony, now in its 73rd year. The agreement comes as the ESO enters its second season of new management, is actively auditioning music director candidates, and plans for greater engagement as audiences again choose to seek out live entertainment opportunities.
"These are challenging times so of course the negotiations were not easy. Happily, we were able to come to an agreement on a two-year contract that will give the new management an opportunity to solidify the orchestra's financials and at the same time develop new performance opportunities for our musicians," said Charles Schuchat, Chair, ESO Players Committee.
The Symphony’s Chief Executive Officer, Marc Thayer, who took the helm of the ESO a year ago, believes the agreement is a key part of putting the ESO on solid financial footing and will offer more opportunities for the Symphony to reach new and current audiences in unique and more intimate settings in addition to the traditional concerts at The Hemmens Cultural Center.
“‘We’re very pleased to have reached a very reasonable agreement with our musicians about how best to proceed and plan for the next two years and beyond. Thanks to our creative musicians and staff we will be presenting some new and exciting initiatives in alternative venues while reaching a balanced budget, making the ESO self-sustainable for the foreseeable future,” Thayer said.
In addition to the nine concerts announced in March, the ESO has added the following concerts to its 2022-23 season:
• Friday Favorites, Music You Know, Friday, Oct. 28, at Elgin Community College’s Blizzard Theatre, 6:30 p.m., featuring Tiffany Lu, conductor
• Music for Strings, Saturday, November 19, 7:30 p.m., Elgin United Methodist Church
• Holiday Brass, Sunday, Dec. 4, at Saint Anne Catholic Church, Barrington, 3 p.m. This is a free concert; reservations are required.
• Latin Fire, Friday, December 30, 7:30 p.m., Hemmens Cultural Center, featuring Enrico Lopez-Yañez, conductor; Mónica Abrego, vocalist; José Sibaja, trumpeter
• Winter Woodwinds, Sunday, March 19, 2:30 p.m., Elgin United Methodist Church
• Disco Fever, Friday, March 31, at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 7:30 p.m., featuring Enrico Lopez-Yañez, conductor
• Elgin Master Chorale with the ESO – Saturday, April 15, 7:30 p.m., Elgin Community College, Blizzard Theatre
• Friday Favorites, Music You Know – April Date To Be Confirmed, Second Baptist Church of Elgin
This season includes conductors who are auditioning to become the next music director at the ESO. Thayer said that audience members’ input will be included in that decision, as the ESO will survey audiences following concerts to get feedback on the conductors’ performances. The ESO plans to name the new music director at the end of the 2022-23 season. The new director will be instrumental in planning the ESO’s 75th anniversary season program for 2024-25.
Founded as a community orchestra in 1950 and becoming a fully professional ensemble in 1985, the ESO has a long history of bringing music into the communities it serves with free performances in the community, such as at the Elgin Farmers Market, hospitals, and senior centers, and providing educational opportunities including the Listeners’ Club and the Ainsworth Concerts for Youth series. To continue to expand the ESO’s outreach into the community, a dedicated community relations specialist has been hired to focus on building additional relationships for the Musicians Care and Adopt-A-School programs and other opportunities.
“It’s no secret that Covid challenged arts organizations, as our audiences’ expectations of how they enjoy live performances changed. Over the past year, the ESO has been planning and adapting,” Thayer said. “The two-year contract agreement with our musicians helps to position the ESO for long-term sustainability while allowing us to try new ways to engage the community. I am really excited about what the future holds for the ESO.”
About the Elgin Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1950 and becoming a fully professional ensemble in 1985, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra has a long history of highlighting the works of world-renowned conductors, composers, and musicians, and of promoting the advancement of women in the arts. Founded in 1950 as a community orchestra, the ESO became a professional ensemble in 1985, in good part due to the leadership of the late Margaret Hillis, who was music director at the ESO from 1971-1985. Hillis was one of the first females to break through the male-dominated world of conducting and is credited with being the impetus behind the creation of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra Association, the formation of the ESO League, and the start of the ESO’s outreach to youth through concerts for school students.
Today, the ESO continues to draw its creativity and artistry from the Elgin area and gives back to the community through ensemble members’ performances at local hospitals and retirement homes, free Listeners Club experiences, and open rehearsals.
The ESO has been named Orchestra of the Year four times by the Illinois Council of Orchestras (1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016).
The ESO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. To learn more or to support the ESO, visit www.elginsymphony.org.