ESO concerts Dec. 9-10 features musical holiday extravaganza for the entire family

Diane Handler
Updated 12/6/2017 7:45 PM
  • The Midwest Dance Collective joins other guest artists -- the Elgin Master Chorale, soprano Leila Bowie and tenor Joe Shadday -- at the Elgin Symphony Orchestra's "Magical Holiday" Concerts Dec. 9-10.

    The Midwest Dance Collective joins other guest artists -- the Elgin Master Chorale, soprano Leila Bowie and tenor Joe Shadday -- at the Elgin Symphony Orchestra's "Magical Holiday" Concerts Dec. 9-10. Courtesy of James Harvey

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra's "Magical Holiday" concerts are jam-packed with holiday classics and other songs of the season and feature Chicago-area musicians, soprano Leila Bowie and tenor Joe Shadday, the Elgin Master Chorale and the Midwest Dance Collective, led by resident conductor Stephen Squires.

This holiday extravaganza will be presented at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way in Elgin.

Gifts for Toys for Tots will be collected at the concerts and contributors will receive a discount voucher for an upcoming 2017-18 ESO concert. At the evening Saturday concert only, Mama Lee's Popcorn will be selling popcorn and the EYSO's Earl Clemens Wind Quintet will perform in the lobby before the performance.

Joe Shadday, a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus, will perform "Believe," "The Day After Christmas," "Silent Night/God Bless Us" and "Christmas at Home."

Bowie, who has appeared on the Chicago Symphony's "Beyond the Score," will sing "I Saw Three Ships," "Christmastide" and "Santa Baby." The two together will perform "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and "The Christmas Song," and will sing with the audience on the "Holly Jolly Sing Along."

The Elgin Master Chorale will sing "A Joyful Noel," "How Great Our Joy," "Christmas at Home," "For Unto Us A Child is Born" and more! The Midwest Dance Collective will perform the "Black Friday Shoppers Overture" to the William Tell Overture, and "Parade of the Wooden Soldier." The concert also includes an appearance by a very special visitor from the North Pole. There is valet service or convenient free parking. For tickets, which are only $30-$50, visit ElginSymphony.Org or call (847) 888-4000.

Indianapolis native Joe Shadday, tenor, most recently appeared as Hoxton in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production of "My Fair Lady." He is a recent winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He is also a skilled crossover artist and has appeared as Enoch Snow in the Glimmerglass Festival production of Carousel. Additionally, he has performed with Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Indianapolis Opera, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival, Charlottesville Opera, Kentucky Opera, Pensacola Opera, and was a previous member of the Cantus vocal ensemble. He is currently a chorus member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He received his M.M. from the University of Maryland where he studied under Leon Major and his B.M. from DePauw University.

Georgia-born Leila Bowie is acclaimed for her "rich and warm soprano" (Times Argus Vermont) and vocal ability intertwined with her "crisp diction and expressive passion" (Musical America Worldwide). Calling Chicago home, she made her Orchestra Hall debut as a soloist in "Beyond the Score: Strauss' Ein Heldenleben" with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, appeared as First Lady in Mozart's The Magic Flute with Chicago Opera Theater and is a recipient of the Lynne Harvey Music Scholarship from the Musicians Club of Women. Ms. Bowie was a finalist the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition in Germany. She performed as a Young Artist with Chicago Opera Theater for two seasons. Her recent operatic performances have included the role of Pamina in Mozart's "The Magic Flute" with Sugar Creek Opera, Konstanze in Mozart's "Die Entführung aus dem Serail" and La Contessa in Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" for Candid Concert Opera, Nérine in Charpentier's Médée. Bowie received both her master's degree in vocal performance and professional diploma in opera from Chicago College of Performing Arts.

A cultural cornerstone of Elgin and the Fox Valley, the Elgin Master Chorale creates a thrilling, emotional experience for audiences at each performance by achieving an overall level of excellence in singing, presentation and production. Under the direction of Maestro Andrew Lewis, EMC is comprised of nearly 100 volunteer singers from across the Fox Valley. Far from a solitary organization, EMC creates collaborations with performing arts organizations that elevate and energize the entire community. In 1947 local musician Dean Chipman had a vision of creating a large vocal ensemble to perform Brahms' famed German Requiem. His dream became reality when 192 singers from over 15 local choirs joined together to give voice to this grand work. The premiere took place on May 7, 1948 at the first Congregational Church of Elgin. Frank Kratky directed the performance accompanied by two pianos. The house was full, the audience enthusiastic, and the largest vocal group in the Fox Valley, the Elgin Choral Union, was underway. Incorporated as a not-for-profit in 1966, the organization changed its name to Elgin Master Chorale in 2014. In residence at Elgin Community College, EMC presents several concerts per year at the Blizzard Theatre at the college, as well as the Hemmens Cultural Center and other locations in the Chicago area.

The Midwest Dance Collective, under the direction of Ellen Werksman, is proud to return for their annual performance with ESO. The Company is a diverse collection of dancers from various dance studios, colleges, and college graduates. MDC creates unique opportunities for these artists which include concert performances, lectures and demonstrations, guest appearances, volunteer work for various charities and scholarships for dancers. Our philosophy of welcoming dancers from many surrounding areas allows for students to maintain studies at their home studios while enriching their dance education. MDC provides professional training where each dancer learns to succeed in a company environment. Highlighting their 15 years of dance are performances with Ruth Page Foundation/Dance Legacy Project, Operation North Pole, Dance Chicago, Ballet Legere, Columbia College, University of Minnesota, and Panama City Arts Alive. For more information, visit

Stephen Squires is a musician with a career that blends his passions for conducting, teaching, and performing. He received his musical training at the Preparatory School of the Eastman School of Music and the Crane School of Music, in his home state of New York. Mr. Squires earned his Master's degree in Instrumental Conducting/Trumpet Performance at California State University, Northridge. Further conducting studies were with Helmuth Rilling, Maurice Abravanel, Daniel Lewis, Tsung Yeh, and at the Aspen Music Festival. Mr. Squires is Professor of Conducting in the Music Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. His current professional appointments include Resident Conductor of the Elgin (IL) Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra (Rockford, IL), Music Director of the Millar Brass (Evanston, IL), and Music Director of the Illinois Brass Band (Arlington Heights, IL). In addition, he is an accomplished recital accompanist, freelance trumpeter, and frequent guest conductor at educational festivals throughout the country.

Now in its 67th season, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times -- in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016 -- from the Illinois Council of Orchestras. The ESO strives to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region. Before concerts, area musicians often perform in the lobby, and patrons can buy drinks at the bar and purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique. Pre-concert chats are given by Music Director Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances, and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians at area restaurants. In addition, free Listeners Club discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered in Geneva and Elgin on Wednesdays before ESO Classics Series concert weekends. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can't make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a small fee. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available.

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs. The ESO-Transforming the Symphony Experience.

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