Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra Wins 2011 Illinois Council of Orchestras “Chamber Orchestra of the Year” Award

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is pleased to announce that the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra has won the 2011 Illinois Council of Orchestras “Chamber Orchestra of the Year” Award.

The award will be presented at the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra’s next concert on Friday, October 28, 2011.

An awards panel that included judges from the Illinois Council of Orchestras Board of Directors and from independent arts organizations reviewed the nominations. The Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra was chosen to receive this award for excellence in the field of music performance and for support of musical organizations.

The Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1983 by Eleanor Stanlis, is a highly respected, professional orchestra made up of musicians from the greater Rockford area. Currently under the baton of Stephen Squires, the MCO appears as part of the annual concert season presented by the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, the oldest, continuous community music organization of its kind in the United States. The MCO frequently performs with the Mendelssohn Chorale, as well as local and nationally known guest performers and ensembles.

MCO Music Director Stephen Squires’ creative programming skills have led the MCO to gain hundreds of new followers over the years. Mr. Squires began as Guest Conductor for the MCO in the late 1980s and became Music Director of the ensemble in 2001. Mr. Squires is Professor of Conducting in the Music Conservatory at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. A conductor active in orchestral, operatic, wind, and ballet music, Mr. Squires' current professional appointments also include Associate Conductor of the Elgin (IL) Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Millar Brass (Evanston, IL). Mr. Squires 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. He earned his master's degree in Instrumental Conducting/Trumpet Performance at California State University, Northridge.

During the 2009-2010 season, the MCO performed two concerts: the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center’s “125th Anniversary Holiday Gala” with soprano Jonita Lattimore, the Mendelssohn Chorale, Rock Valley Children’s Choirs, and Kantorei, the Singing Boys of Rockford; and a concert with violinists Margaret Batjer and Shelby Latin Harris, and the Measure 5 and Flute Choir youth ensembles from the Music Academy of Rockford College. This season the MCO performed “An English Christmas” with the Rock Valley College Concert Choir and the Rockford College Vocal Collective; and “A Handel Celebration” with the Mendelssohn Chorale, organist Bill Stein, and baritone Jonathan Beyer.

The Illinois Council of Orchestras was founded in 1974. Their mission is to encourage, promote, and assist orchestras throughout the State of Illinois; to promote an exchange of information among members, including providing consultants and speakers; and to hold educational conferences for member organizations, including musicians, staff, boards, volunteers, and audiences.


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