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Article updated: 6/12/2013 10:06 PM

ESO's new music director introduced to community

By Elena Ferrarin

Conductor Andrew Grams called the chance to lead the Elgin Symphony Orchestra the greatest honor of his life Wednesday night during the formal announcement party in Elgin.

Thirty-five-year old Grams is only the fourth music director in the ESO's 63 years.

Grams said his past experiences at the ESO, working with the musicians, board and staff, and conversations with audience members left him with a feeling that he'd been waiting on for years.

"The feeling that just says, 'You can do something here,'" Grams said.

As for how Grams feels about his future with the ESO?

"Over the moon. Absolutely excited. What already goes on here ... what can happen," he said before ending a short speech by raising his glass in a toast.

And Grams' history with the ESO, including a stint as conductor in early May where, musicians said, he elicited a fabulous performance, helped secure him a permanent place with the orchestra.

"We had a wonderful last week of the season with him as our conductor. There was really a wonderful chemistry between he and the orchestra," said Ross Beacraft, ESO's principal trumpet player.

Beacraft was among four players who served on the ESO's 12-member search committee. All four unanimously picked Grams as their top choice, he said.

"Music-making is a collaborative experience, and I think we all felt that he had great musical ideas. He's a great musician to his core, and he worked with us -- he knew when to lead, and he knew when to follow."

Grams is extremely talented, said Carol Lahti, a member of the ESO's first violin section.

"He is very clear. He's easy to follow and he enabled me to play better than I thought I could," she said.

"He enabled the orchestra to sound about as good as it has sounded. He really reached into each of us and brought out amazing music."

Grams' three-year contract begins July 1; he will make his debut during the 2013-14 season's opening weekend Oct. 5 and 6.

Grams has conducted orchestras throughout the U.S. and abroad, including the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C., the Vancouver Symphony, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Orchestra of the Beethovenhalle Bonn, the BBC Symphony Orchestra London, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Melbourne Symphony, the Orchestra of Santa Cecilia Rome, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the Malmo Symphony.

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