Maestro Robert Hanson, named 2001 Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, has been Music Director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra since 1985. Maestro Hanson came to the ESO in 1974 as assistant to Grammy winner Margaret Hillis and became Co-Music Director with Hillis in 1983. The 2003-2004 season marks Maestro Hanson’s 30th anniversary year with the ESO.
During his 30-year tenure, Maestro Hanson has demonstrated the rare ability to guide and organization through multiple phases of growth. He led the organization through the process of becoming Chicago’s first professional suburban orchestra in 1985, becoming Chicago’s premier regional orchestra in 1997, and is currently leading the organization through an unprecedented growth in programming and artistic excellence. Under Maestro Hanson’s guidance, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra has become one of the finest and most celebrated orchestra in the Midwest. In addition to having been named Orchestra of the Year twice by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, it is one of approximately forty arts organization designated by the Illinois State legislature as an Established Regional Arts Institution and a State Treasure. The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is one of a select number of national and international orchestras and the only Illinois orchestra whose concerts are regularly broadcast on WFMT fine arts radio station.
Maestro Hanson received his Master and Doctorate degrees in Music Composition at Northwestern University, where he won the coveted Faricy Award for excellence in music. His is a published composer; his compositions have been performed internationally, including a United States cultural exchange program in the former Soviet Union. He has received more than fifteen commissions including Psalms of David and Hiawatha, full-length oratorios commissioned by the Elgin Choral Union.
Maestro Hanson has served as Music Director or other ensembles including the Elgin Choral Union, the Lake County Chamber Orchestra, the Liberty-Fremont Chorus (IL,) and the Traverse Symphony Orchestra (MI). He also conducted the Ruth Page Nutcracker at Chicago’s Arie Crown Theater for two seasons. This coming season, he will lead the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra on a tour of Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota.
With a strong commitment to music education, Robert Hanson has had a significant impact on the musical life of young people. His many accomplishments include initiating and developing the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s Family concerts; founding the Elgin Area Youth Orchestra; developing the ESO’s Kids Konzerts and Petite Musique concerts for young children; founding the Elgin Community College (ECC) Conservatory and ECC Institute for the Performing Arts.
Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Oct. 2003