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For the second time in seven years, the Evanston Symphony Orchestra has been named Community Orchestra of the Year “in recognition of its exemplary achievements” by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

The award will be presented to the orchestra at its May 7 concert.

“We are honored to accept this award,” said Lawrence Eckerling, the orchestra’s Music Director. “It is an organizational award, requiring a terrific orchestra, and contributions from the entire Board, the General Manager, as well as Music Director. It’s always wonderful to be recognized.”

The Council’s decision was based on a number of ESO achievements over the past season, including a 20% increase in ticket sales, the most successful ever; an increase in the subscription base to a record 686; the Illinois premiere of “Dreamtime Ancestors,” a new orchestral work by the esteemed composer Christopher Theofanidis, part of the commissioning project by the New Music for America consortium of small orchestras; a holiday concert featuring 350 performers in music dance, and song, including the orchestra’s new gospel choir; and expansion of educational outreach programs.

“This award is a deserved recognition of just how good a volunteer-based orchestra can be,” said ESO President Vince Flood. “Bravo to Maestro Eckerling and the wonderful orchestra players.”

Prior to this year, the orchestra was honored by the Illinois Council of Orchestras in 2010. Mr. Eckerling was named Conductor of the Year in 2007 and 2014; Board member Sarah Flax was named Volunteer of the Year in 2015; and David Ellis was named General Manager of the Year in 2012.

This is the ESO’s 70th season. The orchestra was founded as the Evanston Community Orchestra as an offshoot of the Northwestern University Orchestra, when returning GIs and others looked for an outlet for their musical talents.

The May 7 concert, which begins 2:30 p.m. at Pick-Staiger Hall on the Northwestern campus, is themed “Cinema Blockbusters” and will include “Star Wars Symphonic Suite” by John Williams, as well as works by Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev that have also been featured in movies. For more information, visit www.evanstonsymphony.org.