Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra recognized for leadership and programming

Illinois Council of Orchestras president Timothy Corpus presented two significant awards to Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra at "Adventures in EYSO," a donor appreciation and fundraising event at The Ashbury, a new venue in downtown Elgin.

Matthew Sheppard, artistic director for EYSO, was honored as Community/Small Orchestra Conductor of the Year.

Corpus presented the award to Sheppard in front of an audience of EYSO supporters and patrons of the arts in greater Elgin.

"Matt is a terrific teacher. He was selected from a number of orchestras and conductors who were considered for this opportunity," Corpus said.

Corpus also bestowed EYSO with the Programming of the Year Award.

"This award goes way beyond pretty music that was performed well. It means EYSO performed music that was important for their community, for their students, for their staff, and for the greater region, the state of Illinois," Corpus said.

The awards are based on achievements during EYSO's 2020-21 season, a time when EYSO students faced challenges from the pandemic that cut across all facets of life.

Sheppard steadily and confidently led EYSO through the unpredictable and ever-changing season. He and the EYSO team arranged for safe, in-person rehearsals and livestream performances and crafted innovative and inspiring programming for students.

West Chicago High School sophomore Neela Myers spoke at the fundraiser and reflected on the season in her remarks.

"While orchestras all over were shutting down, EYSO was going strong," Myers said. "I was super excited that we could have an in-person orchestra experience and perform challenging music in livestream concerts."

The Illinois Council of Orchestras awards program annually recognizes orchestras, conductors, and volunteers that have demonstrated exceptional achievement. In 2021, Illinois Council of Orchestras named EYSO the Youth Orchestra of the Year. Its mission is to create a community of young musicians, enriching their lives and the lives of their families, schools, communities and beyond, through the study and performance of excellent music.

Since its beginnings as a small string orchestra in 1976, the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra has grown to a community of nine large ensembles and a thriving Chamber Music Institute.

EYSO serves 300 students from 70 Chicago area communities and has a national reputation for providing students with an engaging musical experience and a comprehensive learning environment promoting curiosity, imagination, and critical thinking.

Students explore a thematic curriculum each season - one which helps students develop artistically and technically, and prepares them for a future of complex ideas, creative risk-taking, and leadership as global citizens.

Visit or call (847) 841-7700 to learn more.

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