Elgin Symphony’s Fridays on the Farm series, part of a larger plan

Posted on: May 21, 2021

“On Friday, about 150 audience members, 34 orchestra string players, violinist Karen Gomyo, and Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) music director Andrew Grams will flock to Goebbert’s Farm in Pingree Grove to kick off Fridays on the Farm, the orchestra’s first-ever summer concert initiative,” writes Hannah Edgar in Thursday’s (5/20) Chicago Tribune. “That’s not what makes the orchestra’s mini-residency at the pumpkin patch and orchard so momentous: While arts organizations … have funneled resources into digital-first concerts over the past year, the ESO made the difficult decision to mostly resist the digital-concert cottage industry. Since lockdown, the ensemble has only streamed performances which also included a live audience, the largest being a string orchestra showcase at Goebbert’s last September…. Music director Grams and executive director Erik Malmquist say the ESO, as a small-to-mid-budget ensemble that laid off most of its operational staff during the pandemic, couldn’t have possibly achieved the production quality and output necessary to justify … digital-first concerts. Instead, ESO leadership made the risky decision to buckle down and focus on the ESO’s core tenet: community engagement…. ‘Everything we do needs to check off at least one of three boxes: musical excellence, economic development, and social advocacy for the communities we serve,’ Malmquist says.”