Alltop on stage.jpg

The Champaign-Urbana Symphony

Be seen at the scene: The Champaign-Urbana Symphony

Alltop on stage.jpg

The Champaign-Urbana Symphony

Story: Gerri Kirchner

Photos: Darrell Hoemann

Another season of symphony is underway in Central Illinois! The professional orchestra in residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 58th season. Maestro Stephen Alltop and CUSO will present “Music of Destiny,” performing masterworks from Bach, Beethoven, Verdi, Vivaldi, and others in five-concerts at Krannert.

“We are thrilled to open the CUSO season on October 7 with Verdi’s Requiem, Alltop said. “CUSO is collaborating with Andrew Megill and the University of Illinois Oratorio Society to perform one of the most moving works of the choral repertoire.”

Entering his fifth season as music director and conductor, Alltop has brought the orchestra to new levels of performance excellence, engaging larger audiences each season. “Our patrons appreciate Stephen’s passion for music, said CUSO Board President Marilynne Davis. “He has an extraordinary knowledge of composers and their works, and gives wonderful pre-concert lectures at OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Stephen has really embraced our community and has always said YES when we ask him to perform for a fundraiser, or mentor a young student.”

Alltop serves on the conducting faculty of Northwestern University. A specialist in oratorio performance, he has conducted over 100 oratorio and operatic master works. In 2014, he conducted the world premiere of Chapel Music by Joseph Schwantner, written for the 50th Anniversary of Alice Millar Chapel. He also collaborates with the Kellogg School of Business each year to do presentations on leadership for executives from around the world.
Alltop and CUSO are welcoming a new artistic partner this season, Stacy Garrop, who has been named Music Alive Composer in Residence with the orchestra. Garrop’s residency is made possible through Music Alive, a residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA that demonstrates the power and value of living composers working at the center of American orchestras.

“The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is honored to have the opportunity for this artistic collaboration with composer Stacy Garrop,” Alltop said. “Stacy is an extremely bright light in American music.”

Garrop is a nationally recognized composer of works for orchestra, wind ensemble, choir, chamber ensembles, and oratorio. Her works have been performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Cabrillo Music Festival Orchestra, Chanticleer, Lincoln Trio, Gaudete Brass Quintet, New England Philharmonic, “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra, and other orchestras across the country.

Garrop’s residency with CUSO is a tremendous opportunity for artistic collaboration and brings the vitality of new music to the central Illinois region. Her music is uniquely centered on dramatic and lyrical storytelling, presenting vivid musical portraits. CUSO is looking forward to performing several of her works for orchestra this season. The March 2 concert, Music of Destiny, features several movements from Garrop’s dramatic Mythology Symphony, which will be performed along with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. For Music of Titans on April 28, CUSO will perform Garrop’s Becoming Medusa, along with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 and Mahler’s opus, Titan.

“The sharing of stories is a defining element of our humanity, Garrop said. “We strive to share with others the experiences and concepts that we find compelling. My music shares stories by taking audiences on sonic journeys – some are simple and beautiful, while others are complicated and dark, depending on the dramatic shape of the story.”

Garrop earned degrees in music composition at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (BM), University of Chicago (MA), and Indiana University-Bloomington (DM), and has worked as an educator throughout her career. She served as professor of composition at Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University from 2000 to 2016, when she decided to devote all her time to her composing career.

Garrop’s residency with CUSO will also bring her tremendous talents as an educator to classrooms in our community. She will provide music education programs for local grade school and high school students during her two-year residency with CUSO, and will also be conducting two-day composer visits to area colleges. For more information about Stacy’s residency with CUSO, visit, which also features Stacy’s blog.

About CUSO
The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is a nonprofit organization and is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Art Council Agency. CUSO programs are made possible by the support of the Guild, the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, our corporate sponsors, the City of Urbana Arts Council, and the generosity of individual donors. The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is a member of the League of American Orchestras; the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers; Broadcast Music, Inc.; and the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

CUSO 58th Season
7:30 pm |Krannert Center

Verdi’s Requiem Sat Oct 7, 2017
Music of the Season Thu Dec 7, 2017
Baroque Brilliance Sat Feb 3, 2018
Music of Destiny Fri Mar 2, 2018
Music of Titans Sat Apr 28, 2018

More information at
Tickets on sale now at Krannert Center

Stacy Garrop and CUSO are one of five composer/orchestra
pairs selected to participate in Music Alive:

Lembit Beecher and
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Anna Clyne and
Berkeley Symphony
Hannibal Lokumbe and
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Jerod Tate and
South Dakota Symphony Orchestra