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updated: 10/4/2013 9:04 AM

New conductor, new season for Elgin Symphony on Saturday

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  • Andrew Grams, pictured in the auditorium of the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin, makes his debut as the new conductor for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night.

      Andrew Grams, pictured in the auditorium of the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin, makes his debut as the new conductor for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night.
    courtesy of Elgin Symphony Orchestra

 
 

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra's new season begins Saturday with the debut of its new music director Andrew Grams.

"Surreal. Excited. Those words are the ones I'd use to describe how I feel," Grams said.

"I told the players at our first rehearsal (Wednesday night), it's the moment I've been waiting for so long. I think it's going to culminate in something so special."

Grams, 36, is the fourth music director in the symphony's 63 years.

His three-year contract began July 1.

Although Grams has conducted orchestras all over the world, this feels different, he said.

"None of them have been -- for lack of a better word -- my orchestra, the orchestra I'm responsible for," he said. "It feels different because you're now responsible for the direction that the organization takes going forward, rather than just the direction for that particular week."

This weekend's Gershwin and Mahler concert will feature 85 to 90 players on Saturday and Sunday.

Seven new musicians were hired after Grams conducted auditions earlier this month.

Grams will be conducting two more concerts this season: a Sibelius violin concert on Nov. 9 and 10, and a Scottish fantasy concert on Jan. 10, 11 and 12.

Grams said he's equally excited about all three concerts.

"What makes what I do very interesting is not necessarily the music itself, but the relationship between the conductor, the orchestra and the community, the public, the audience," he said. "The music is the vehicle that binds all. It's the binding agent, the thing that keeps us all together on the same page."

He and ESO director of operations and artistic administration Mark Mallamo have been working on lining up the 2014-15 season, which they hope to announce in late December or early January, he said.

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