Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra Recognized for Leadership and Programming


Illinois Council of Orchestras Chairman Timothy Corpus presented two major awards to the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra at “Adventures in EYSO,” a donor appreciation and fundraising event in The Ashbury, a new venue in downtown Elgin.

Matthew Sheppard, Artistic Director of EYSO, was honored as Community Conductor/Small Orchestra of the Year.

Corpus presented the award to Sheppard in front of an audience of EYSO supporters and arts patrons from 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 awarded EYSO the prize for programming of the year.

“This award goes far beyond pretty music that was performed well. It means that EYSO played music that was important to its community, to its students, to its staff and to the greater region, l ‘State of Illinois,’ Corpus said.

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

Sheppard led EYSO consistently and confidently through the unpredictable and ever-changing season. He and the EYSO team held safe in-person rehearsals and live performances and designed innovative and inspiring programming for students.


Neela Myers, a sophomore at West Chicago High School, spoke at the fundraiser and spoke about the season in her remarks.

“While orchestras everywhere were closing, EYSO was going strong,” Myers said. “I was super excited that we could have an in-person orchestral experience and perform empowering music at live concerts.”

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

From its beginnings as a small string orchestra in 1976, the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra has grown into a community of nine major ensembles and a thriving institute of chamber music.

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 that fosters curiosity, imagination, and critical thinking.

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

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


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