Soumm makes Chicago debut with Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra
By Jessi Virtusio Gig of the Weekfirstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @JessiVirtusio November 13, 2013 5:52PM
French violinist Alexandra Soumm will make her Chicago debut with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra on Nov. 16.
♦ 8 p.m. Nov. 16
♦ Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center, 19900 S. Harlem Ave., Frankfort
♦ Tickets, $35, $45 or $55
♦ (708) 481-7774;
Updated: December 16, 2013 6:09AM
A little something extra is what Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra executive director Andrew Bradford promises for Nov. 16’s Austrian Classics with an American Twist in Frankfort.
“It’s more than just a concert. We’re trying to create an experience,” he said.
Not only will the event feature the Chicago debut of French violinist Alexandra Soumm, but the performance will be followed immediately by an onstage postconcert conversation with Bradford, IPO music director David Danzmayr and Soumm.
“They have an emotional reaction to the music, and through these postconcert conversations they get to know a lot more details behind the composer, why the violinist likes performing it so much, why David likes directing it, etc.
“It’s not a lecture. It’s a conversation. In contrast to a preconcert lecture, they are casual and often incorporate a lot of questions people have.”
Bradford, who started as IPO’s executive director in July, relocated from San Francisco to Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood to be with his now-wife, MyungJu Yeo, who is a member of Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
He said the Park Forest-based IPO may be a small organization, but there are big advantages to being based in the Southland.
“Because we’re in the Chicago market, we draw from an incredible pool of musicians,” he said.
“While the budget is smaller than the symphonies, the quality of the music is really spectacular and, believe it or not, that’s what keeps us going every day.”
Bradford said he has been tasked with several duties.
“On a basic level, my job as executive director is to make the music director’s artistic vision come to fruition,” he said.
“We’re a not-for-profit organization. Our mission is to present concerts of the highest quality.
“My job as executive director is to make sure we have the resources needed to do that, and get people to show up for the concerts.
“Fortunately, we’re blessed to have a music director who has incredible vision. That’s every executive director’s dream.”
Something that helps to set the IPO apart from counterparts is including American compositions during its 2013-14 season.
“One of the things that we’re most proud about is we’re — the board, the music director and me — doing something that no other orchestra in Illinois is doing: a piece of American music on every concert.
The IPO’s season-opening show in October at the Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center featured pianist Terrence Wilson playing the Chicago premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Grammy Award-winning “Deus ex Machina.”
Nov. 16’s concert will feature William Bolcom’s “Commedia for an (almost) 18th Century Orchestra.”
That American piece will be part of a program that also features Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 3” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6” (“Pastoral”).
“It’s a very accessible program,” Bradford said, noting how excited the IPO is to feature Soumm’s Chicago debut.
A former BBC 3 Radio Next Generation artist, Soumm recently made her U.S. debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Bradford said music lovers should head to the IPO concert for several reasons.
“There’s something about the experience of hearing live symphonic music that simply can’t be replicated by popping in a CD while you’re driving,” he said.
“There’s free coffee and cookies before in the lobby. It’s a nice way to spend a weekend out. There are great restaurants in the area, and they are usually packed with patrons before the concert.”
According to Bradford, organizations such as the IPO are vital to the south suburbs.
“We wouldn’t exist if people didn’t want quality of life in this area to be better,” he said. “We exist to fill a void for people that don’t want to travel downtown to have access to live music.”
Jessi Virtusio blogs about music, movies and much more on Elaborating on Entertainment at blogs.southtownstar.com/entertainment.