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Elgin Symphony Pops back up in enjoyable, promising way

ShaunBittle | Staff Photographer Editorial columnist LindMcDaniel-Hale photographed house ElgIL Friday Nov. 28 2008.

Shauna Bittle | Staff Photographer Editorial columnist Linda McDaniel-Hale photographed in house in Elgin, IL on Friday, Nov. 28, 2008.

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Updated: November 28, 2013 6:36AM

I was very surprised to be watching The Learning Channel and finding that the Elgin Symphony Orchestra was now advertising on TV to sell tickets for the first of its Pops Series, which took place last weekend.

This new way to attract patrons must have worked, because this first Pops Concert was almost full. What better way to spend an evening than to be listening to the Elgin Symphony playing movie greats by John Williams.

If you have ever attended an Elgin Symphony concert, you could not have helped but notice the new seating arrangement at the latest concert. New Music Director Andrew Grams made the decision to use a European seating arrangement rather than what had been used in the past.

I was startled at first to be hearing the sounds from the different instruments coming from a place I was not accustomed to. The brass section, now closer to the front of the stage, was especially vibrantly highlighted by its closer proximity to the audience.

Most of John Williams’ movie greats were easily recognizable, such as “Suite” from “Jaws,” “Raider’s March” from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and the “Imperial March” from “Star Wars.” Lesser-known tunes included “Escapades” from “Catch Me if You Can” and “Suite” from “Far and Away.”

Guest Conductor Matthew Kraemer was quite entertaining, not only through his skill at conducting the orchestra but also by his excellent showmanship. He was hilarious with his execution of memories of when he first heard so many of the Williams’ tunes.

Although it seemed like such an uphill battle to get the Elgin Symphony and the city of Elgin on better terms, the symphony is definitely on its way to provide continued top-notch musical performances under Grams’ leadership. Whatever financial difficulties occurred between the symphony and the city, it is time to put all of that behind us and to look to the future of continued partnership between the two entities. Despite the long-suffering disagreement, the outcome produced only winners.

The Elgin Symphony especially should be commended for its professional fight to keep the organization afloat and moving forward. No doubt it will be successful during this rebuilding period, as this first Pops Series concert has indicated.

The Fox Valley can be proud of the outstanding entertainment provided by this first-class symphony. The valley would not have been the same had the symphony needed to close down or move to another municipality. Our thanks to the ESO for making sure that our community will continue to be honored with distinctive entertainment right in our own backyard.

Linda McDaniel-Hale is a Sleepy Hollow resident.

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