EYSO named Youth Orchestra of the Year

  • The Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, seen rehearsing for a recent livestreamed concert at Elgin Community College, was named Youth Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

      The Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, seen rehearsing for a recent livestreamed concert at Elgin Community College, was named Youth Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra artistic director Matthew Sheppard rehearses with a group at Elgin Community College recently.

      Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra artistic director Matthew Sheppard rehearses with a group at Elgin Community College recently. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/19/2021 10:34 PM

Sunday was a big day for the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Just before holding their second concert of the season in their Myths & Legends series to a livestreamed audience, they found out they were the 2021 recipient of the Youth Orchestra of the Year award by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

 

"What a beautiful launch into the concert," Artistic Director Matthew Sheppard said.

Sheppard said the information hadn't yet been made public at the time, so they didn't share the news with the students, but is excited to do so.

"I'm really proud and grateful," Sheppard said. "The way the students came together last year at the start of a really challenging time was just spectacular."

Winners are selected by a panel of judges drawn from the Illinois Council of Orchestras board of directors and independent professional conductors and musicians. They review nominations representing orchestras, youth orchestras, and chamber ensembles from throughout Illinois.

The youth orchestra award has been given out since 1995. This is EYSO's third award, previously winning in 2000 and 2007.

"This award is certainly gratifying and a really great recognition of the amount of work that the students and staff are doing," Sheppard said.

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Executive director Eric Larson said the award is not just for the current staff, but for those who helped build the organization during the past 44 years.

"It reflects our strong underlying mission," Larson said. "We're not a professional orchestra. We're really about creating an opportunity for student musicians to develop as people, as citizens, through the performance of classical music and we're so proud that we were able to still deliver that opportunity for student musicians last year." Presentation of the ICO Awards will take place virtually during March through July 2021 to the winning orchestras.

EYSO has one concert left in the current season. Registration is open for students to audition for the 2021-22 season. Auditions will take place May 27 to 30 at Elgin Community College. Information for registration can be found at eyso.org/join-eyso/applications.

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