Cellist Lynn Harrell plays Tchaikovsky at ESO's opening weekend concerts

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is preparing for the opening weekend concerts of their 2015-16 season.

This is the 65th anniversary season for the cultural gem.

The 2015 Conductor of the Year Andrew Grams returns to conduct the ESO with one of America's most celebrated soloists, cellist Lynn Harrell.

Audiences will enjoy familiar American sounds with the Ives' Variations on America (with the tune "My Country Tis of Thee" in several different variations).

Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme and the Andante cantabile movement from String Quartet No. 1 will be performed with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra musicians and world-renown cellist Lynn Harrell.

The program will end with Brahms' triumphant First Symphony. Much like Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the "Ode to Joy" theme, this Brahms symphony, also known as "Beethoven's Tenth," is one not to miss as a live performance - the power of the entire orchestra at full volume is a glorious and highly emotional experience.

Lynn Harrell's presence is felt throughout the musical world. A consummate soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, conductor and teacher, his work throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia has placed him in the highest echelon of today's performing artists. Harrell is a frequent guest of many leading orchestras including Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and the National Symphony. Lynn Harrell was born in New York to musician parents. He began his musical studies in Dallas and proceeded to the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the first Avery Fisher Award and Grammy awards for Best Chamber Music Performance.

Audience favorite and graduate of the Julliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, Andrew Grams is one of America's most promising and talented young conductors and has already appeared with many of the great orchestras of the world. Maestro Grams returns to Elgin for this opening weekend and many other concerts during the ESO's 65th anniversary season. Grams' conducting style is vibrant and dynamic, and he always helps the audience feel connected to the music being performed onstage.

One hour before the concert starts, audience members can attend the "Musically Speaking Pre-Concert Chat" with Andrew Grams that takes place inside the theater.

About opening weekend, Grams said, "Brahms is one of my most favorite composers. It took Brahms over 20 years to write his first symphony. I appreciate his beauty and emotion that always shows through the music and his careful craftsmanship.

"We are so lucky to have Lynn Harrell come to Elgin to help kickoff the season. He is a storied cellist. He has one of the most amazing careers I can think of. I first met Lynn a couple of years ago when we were doing the Elgar Cello Concerto together on a tour in New Zealand," Grams said. "We had such a wonderful time in the rehearsals, and the concerts, of course, but we really connected just speaking with one another about his time with the Cleveland orchestra."

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra experience is unmatched for a fun, relaxing, cultural experience. Patrons can enjoy a drink, time with friends and even shopping in the lobby of the Hemmens Cultural Center. After Saturday night performances, the audience is invited to "Mingle with the Musicians" at a local Elgin restaurant Elgin Public House for free appetizers and a cash bar. From start to finish - the ESO brings world class, big city entertainment without the hassles of the big city.

The ESO's "Lynn Harrell Plays Tchaikovsky" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way in Elgin. Tickets start at only $30 and can be purchased through the ESO box office at (847) 888-4000 or by visiting This concert is supported in part by S.E. Ainsworth & Family and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets also are available for the upcoming performance, "Out of this World: Sci-fi Movie Classics." Hear movie music from classics like "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and "Back to the Future" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin.

2015 Conductor of the Year and Elgin Symphony Orchestra Music Director Andrew Grams will open the 2015-16 season on Oct. 3-4. Courtesy of ESO
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