With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra considering a possible expansion into the Western suburbs, a group of civic and business leaders is working to find a permanent location for summertime concerts in DuPage County.
The idea of bringing the symphony to DuPage got a boost when five concerts were performed in June at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. County board Chairman Dan Cronin says the performances got rave reviews and were "a huge success."
Since that time, symphony representatives have talked to Cronin and others about the possibility of having a DuPage venue.
"I know there's a lot of interest in having something in that region during the summer," said Deborah Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. "So we're happy to participate in those conversations."
Cronin said a steering committee is being formed to locate a suitable location for seasonal performances.
"In order to fully explore all the options associated with this opportunity," Cronin said, "the CSO is considering working with financial, civic and government leaders within DuPage County."
On Tuesday, Cronin appointed county board member Paul Fichtner to serve as the board's representative on the panel.
"We're going to see what we could to do to have a permanent summer home for them out here," Fichtner said after his appointment.
Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs in downtown Chicago at Symphony Center along Michigan Avenue, while also holding a regular summer season in Highland Park. Rutter said that won't change if a DuPage location is found.
"The intent is not to impact what we're currently doing," she said. "It's to supplement what we're currently doing."
The concerts at the Morton Arboretum were possible because of the efforts of Choose DuPage, the county's public-private economic development group.
If the symphony were to have a regular presence in DuPage, Fichtner said it would be significant for the county.
"This would be a great economic boost for DuPage County," Fichtner said. "It also would be a great cultural boost."
Rutter said the symphony would benefit because it would be available to a large number of suburban fans.
"There is a lot of interest in our programming," she said. "But the barrier to attendance on a regular basis in downtown Chicago is the access."
Fichtner said the committee is expected to start searching for sites soon. It's unclear how long it will take to identify a location.