History of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

MISSION: Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra will provide concerts of compelling professional symphonic music, support music education, and expand audience awareness of musical excellence for the diverse communities of the greater Chicago region.

Now entering its 41st season, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) is the largest performing arts organization in Chicago’s Southland providing professional orchestral music of beauty and excellence to the region. IPO’s repertoire ranges from Baroque and Classical masterpieces, to world premieres and modern favorites. The Illinois Council of Orchestras named IPO the “Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year” in 1992 and again in 2010, recognizing IPO’s overall artistic excellence.

IPO’s history dates back to 1954. Then known as the Park Forest Orchestra, it was formed at the community level with volunteer musicians. In 1978, the orchestra was re-formed into a professional chamber orchestra performing in Park Forest. In 1982, the orchestra was renamed to reflect its regional mission. Instrumental to IPO’s growing success was the naming of Carmon DeLeone as Music Director in 1986. During DeLeone’s 25 year tenure, the IPO expanded its Artists-in-the-Schools Education Program to include interactive Youth Concerts. In the 1990s, the IPO performed in residence at the Center for the Performing Arts at Governors State University in University Park. In 2008, the orchestra began a new residency at the Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center in Frankfort, a regionally centralized location. Maestro DeLeone became Conductor Laureate of IPO in 2011. After an international search process, IPO appointed David Danzmayr as Music Director of Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, serving from 2012–2016 and expanding IPO’s programming to include an American work on every program. In 2017, following a search that attracted over 170 applicants from around the world, the IPO Board of Directors announced the hiring of Stilian Kirov as Music Director beginning with the 40th Anniversary Season.

IPO has a 41 year track record of expertly managing concerts and youth programming. New leadership, both Executive and Artistic, are bringing a new vitality to the organization with an eye towards future programming growth, increased community partnerships and strengthening our fiscal foundation. IPO is led by a 25 member Board of Directors focused upon aligning the organization’s goals to the needs of the Chicago Southland. IPO believes in the power of high-quality music and music education to transform lives.

During the 41st Season, IPO will perform six Saturday evening classical concerts, a Saturday afternoon holiday concert, andfour youth education concerts in May for approximately 4,000 Southland students. All 2018–19 season concerts will be held in Ozinga Chapel at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. IPO will also present its eighth season of Summer Music at Ravisloe, a series of five IPO musician ensemble performances at Ravisloe Golf Club in Homewood.