The City of Naperville had a population of 8,000 when Dr. Russell Harvey founded the DuPage Symphony Orchestra (DSO) in 1954. Moving swiftly, he formed a 45-piece group and presented DSO’s inaugural concert after only two months of rehearsals. The musicians played to an “enthusiastic and appreciative audience” that commanded repeated encores. Local news sources praised the concert and stated it marked an excellent beginning for “a really fine orchestra.”
The DSO soon became one of the largest community ensembles in Illinois, and in 1986, Harvey stepped down. His departure made way for a young Barbara Schubert, who was about to embark on an illustrious career as the formidable Maestra of the DSO, a role she still holds today. Under her baton, the all-volunteer orchestra grew steadily and expanded its membership to more than 100.
“Because we’ve been together for such a long time, there’s this real sense of community and camaraderie,” said Amber Broderick, DSO’s general manager. “Some of our members have played for over 50 years; they joined as young adults, and now their own adult children are playing with us. And we continue to recruit musicians with unparalleled skill and dedication, thereby strengthening the ensemble’s performance capabilities with an expanding repertoire and increasing the musical knowledge of audiences.”
The DSO has cultivated a robust following throughout its tenure and endeavors to engage new followers. Realizing some individuals resist symphonic concerts, DSO is working to dispel the perceptions that keep them from attending.
Enter Connect with Music, an educational venture funded by the JCS Arts, Health and Education Fund of DuPage Foundation that introduces audiences to the music and composers of the classical realm and helps them better understand its importance and beauty. Told through a series of short, entertaining videos that will be available on DSO’s website (www.dupagesymphony.org/for-music-enthusiasts) and social media, the initiative is designed to reach a broad spectrum of viewers with content that is accessible, informative, and stimulating.
“We are hoping to scaffold our community to love classical music the way we do, and to supplement school programs,” stated Broderick. “Since our music teachers are so busy teaching the kids how to play the instrument, they don’t have time to teach them why we play and why it’s important to continue this tradition.”
She continued, “You’re not just playing some obscure piece by some dead composer you’ve never heard of. You are representing a time and a place in history, and that music was connected to everything happening in that era, politically, socially and economically.”
Broderick added, “We want to encourage people to say, ‘I want to learn something new; I want to be entertained; and I want to feel good when I’m done,’ because that is exactly the experience you will have at a DSO concert. You will leave happier than when you came in. You will leave more informed than when you came in, and our hope is that you’ll be excited for the next one.”
DuPage Symphony Orchestra