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Article updated: 10/4/2013 9:04 AM

New conductor, new season for Elgin Symphony on Saturday

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

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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.


ESO's 2013-14 season

The 2013-14 season of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra begins Saturday, which also marks the debut of its new music director Andrew Grams. All concerts are at the Hemmens Cultural Center unless otherwise noted. For tickets, visit elginsymphony.org or call the box office at (847) 888-4000.
Ÿ "Gershwin & Mahler" Andrew Grams, conductor; Terrence Wilson, piano. Oct. 5 and 6.
Ÿ "Movie Greats by John Williams" Matthew Kraemer, conductor. Oct. 18 at Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts; Oct. 19 and 20 in Elgin.
Ÿ "Halloween Spooktacular" Randal Swiggum, conductor. Oct. 27 at Elgin Community College.
Ÿ "Sibelius Violin Concerto" Andrew Grams, conductor; Isabella Lippi, violin. Nov. 9 and 10.
Ÿ "Magical Holiday Concert" Stephen Squires, conductor; Elgin Choral Union; Elgin Children's Chorus. Dec. 14 and 15.
Ÿ "Scottish Fantasy" Andrew Grams, conductor; Michael Ludwig, violin. Jan. 10 in Schaumburg; Jan. 11 and 12.
Ÿ "The Magic of Rhythm" Michael Folker, percussion and illusions; George Blanchet, percussion; Daniela Folker, violin. Jan. 25.
Ÿ "Tour of Italy" Tania Miller, conductor; Brandon Ridenour, trumpet. Feb. 7 at Batavia Fine Arts Centre; Feb. 8 and 9.
Ÿ "Beethoven Inspired," Andrew Lewis, conductor; Elgin Choral Union. March 8 and 9.
Ÿ "Bring on Broadway: Behind the Mask" Stephen Squires, conductor; Teri Dale Hansen, vocalist; Sean MacLaughlin, vocalist. March 22 and 23.
Ÿ "Nielsen & Dvorak" Josť Luis Gomez, conductor; Carter Brey, cello. April 4 in Schaumburg; April 5 and 6 in Elgin.
Ÿ "Symphony Safari" Randal Swiggum, conductor. April 12.
Ÿ "Mozart & Bruckner" Ignat Solzhenitsyn, conductor and piano. May 3 and 4.

"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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