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The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra (CUSO) is the professional orchestra in residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra is a thriving orchestra dedicated to this mission: to enhance the quality of life in the community by providing symphonic music of the highest caliber through live performances and music education in the schools, the concert hall, and the community. Over 95 percent of our musicians live and work in Champaign-Urbana and share the gift of music throughout our community.
CUSO is beginning its 57th consecutive season and has a rich and adventurous musical history. The Orchestra’s history includes a South American tour in its early days and an award for “Adventuresome Programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). For the orchestra’s 50th anniversary celebration, CUSO commissioned four original fanfares by Illinois composers, which were performed during the anniversary season. Collaboration with local photographers, including noted Midwest landscape photographer Larry Kanfer, created an orchestral/video performance of “Pictures at an Exhibition,” celebrating the diversity and culture of the Central Illinois area, which was also produced on DVD.
The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra maintains a strong commitment to youth music education, performing for young audiences and fostering the next generation of talented musicians. The CUSO Guild holds annual scholarship auditions for young musicians, and scholarship winners give recital performances in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts prior to orchestra concerts. CUSO also performs educational concerts for over 4,000 grade school children each year at the Krannert Center and in local schools through numerous educational outreach programs.
The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is actively engaged in community collaborations. As a springboard for artistic partnerships in Central Illinois, the orchestra has engaged in collaborations with the University of Illinois School of Music, the UI Oratorio Society, the Central Illinois Children’s Chorus, the Champaign-Urbana Ballet Company, the Farm Bureau of Champaign County, Rotary International, the UI College of Education Youth Literature Festival, Champaign Park District, and the Concerts at Allerton Park Series.
CUSO continues to expand artistically with the leadership of Dr. Stephen Alltop, who serves on the conducting faculty of Northwestern University and is entering his fourth season as Music Director and Conductor. Since joining the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Alltop has given music of living composers a place of prominence in the orchestra’s programming. In his first three seasons, the orchestra has performed a wide range of new music including works by Michael Daugherty, Christopher Theofanidis, John Corigliano, Emmanuel Séjourné, Jennifer Margaret Barker, Jeff Midkiff, Delvyn Case, Russell Peck, Roberto Sierra, John Williams and Matthew Naughtin. In 2015 The CUSO featured Jeff Midkiff’s Midwest Premiere of his Mandolin Concerto From the Blue Ridge with the composer as soloist. The 2016 CUSO season devoted an entire program to concert works of composer Jeff Beal, with Mr. Beal in attendance as trumpet soloist and sharing the podium with Maestro Alltop. The 2016-17 season includes James MacMillan’s Percussion Concerto Veni, Veni Emmanuel, and works by 20th century American composers.
Christopher Theofanidis – “Rainbow Body”
Performed by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, October 2013; Conducted by Stephen Alltop, Music Director
Michael Daugherty – “Red Cape Tango” from Metropolis Symphony
Performed by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, October, 2013; Conducted by Stephen Alltop, Music Director