On November 21, more than 700 top high school student musicians from the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs will gather at Elmhurst College for the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) District 1 Band/Chorus/Orchestra Senior Festival.
The event, which includes hours of rehearsals and concerts presented by the area’s best and brightest students, is the first of its kind to be hosted at Elmhurst.
“We’re really happy to be hosting this event, as it gives us the opportunity to serve the district we’re in while also providing a chance to showcase all that our campus has to offer,” said Music Department Chair Pete Griffin.
ILMEA, the largest fine arts education organization in the state, is a nonprofit association that advocates for universal access to music education and offers professional development for educators. Founded in 1939, it has more than 3,500 members in nine districts throughout the state. Each district hosts its own festival series, with the top 10 percent of qualifying students attending the association’s All-State Festival hosted in Peoria every January.
According to Joanne May, assistant professor of music at the College and District 1 Festival guest conductor, the event is much like athletic sectional competitions. Students participate in a rigorous audition process to attend and are evaluated by an independent panel of judges throughout the day’s rehearsals and performances to qualify for the All-State Festival.
Competition is particularly intense for District 1, which has the highest student population of the ILMEA’s nine districts—making this festival particularly noteworthy. “These really are the best student musicians in the area,” said May. “That the organization asked us to host this district’s festival really speaks volumes about what they think of the College.”
Elmhurst College is renowned for its strong music program. The College’s professional-level facilities and close proximity to the city make it a hub for music education and performance. Elmhurst ensembles tour internationally and have appeared with many top names in the industry. The College’s Philharmonic Orchestra appeared at the 2015 ILMEA All-State Festival, while the Concert Choir performed with singer Andrea Bocelli at the Allstate Arena on his 2014 world tour and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and singer Bobby McFerrin at the 2015 Ravinia Festival. The College’s Jazz Band was also recently named the country’s top undergraduate jazz ensemble by Downbeat magazine.
The festival’s main concert, featuring the senior band, choir and orchestra, will be at 4:00 pm in Faganel Hall. The freshman and sophomore chorus will perform at 3:00 pm in Hammerschmidt Chapel. Both events are open to the public. Tickets are $5 each and available for purchase at the door.