Turnout for ESO may prompt more dates

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – More live classical music could be in the Tri-Cities’ future.

Last week, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra performed at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre for the first time.

Representatives of the ESO and the venue said the public response to the performance exceeded their expectations.

Dominic Cattero, manager at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre, said the orchestra sold 540 tickets for the Thursday performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” accompanied by a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings in C Major.”

The arts center can accommodate 890 patrons.

However, Cattero and Cheryl Wendt, director of marketing for the ESO, said they had expected about 500 to attend.

“It was just wonderful,” Wendt said. “For the first time there, in the cold of January, to have a turnout like that, is just excellent.”

Cattero said the performance was more than a year in the making. The orchestra and BFAC administration had worked since 2011 to bring the ESO to the Tri-Cities.

The Hemmens Auditorium in Elgin serves as the home venue for the ESO. However, the orchestra also regularly performs at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg.

Representatives of the ESO have stated that they are attempting to grow the Elgin orchestra’s base of support.

The Batavia concert was intended to serve as a centerpiece of the orchestra’s outreach efforts in the Tri-Cities.

Cattero and Wendt said future performances in Batavia are being discussed.

Wendt said performers for the Elgin orchestra “loved” the environment at the Batavia auditorium, and they would welcome a return to the venue.

“We’d love to be back,” she said.

How many Batavia performances might lie ahead remains unclear.

Wendt said it could depend on the outcomes of contract negotiations between the orchestra administration and the performers’ union.

But Cattero said the next performance likely would not come until the beginning of the next performance season, which runs from late summer to late spring.

He said the BFAC is “very booked up” through July.

“So the next available date won’t be until their next performance season,” Cattero said. “But we certainly hope to see many, many more of these performances here.”

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