The late-arriving crowd Sunday at the Hemmens Auditorium in Elgin was not an accurate barometer of the audience's attitude, or the Elgin Symphony Orchestra they came to see. It was simply bad timing of a slow-moving, traffic-blocking train in downtown Elgin.
By the time the ESO's new director, Maestro Andrew Grams, took control of the crowd's attention to introduce the performance's guest artist, pianist Terrence Wilson, almost every one of the auditorium's 1,200 seats was filled.
Grams and Wilson were classmates and friends at The Julliard School, and together they brought a youthful energy to the stage for the ESO's Opening Weekend performances.
"Even though you may not see someone for 10 or 15 years, when you get together again it feels natural," Grams told the audience.
Grams is one of America's most promising and talented young conductors, having already appeared with many of the great orchestras of the world. A native of Maryland, he received a bachelor of music degree in violin performance from The Juilliard School in 1999.
In 2003, he received a conducting degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he worked with Otto-Werner Mueller. He accepted the position of music director of the ESO in June.
Wilson, recognized as one of today's most gifted instrumentalists, has received numerous awards and prizes, including the SONY ES Award for Musical Excellence, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and the Juilliard Petschek Award.
In December 2010 he Wilson was nominated for a Grammy Award for his recording of Michael Daugherty's "Deus ex Machina" for piano and orchestra with the Nashville Symphony.