Community Band Spotlight! February 2009 February 18 2009, 0 Comments

Hi, everyone! So we decided to start a Community Band Spotlight in our newsletter and here on the blog so we could tell you about some bands and orchestras across the country that we think are pretty special. For our first Spotlight, we chose the Alton Symphony Orchestra from Alton, Illinois. Near the border separating Illinois from Missouri is the city of Alton, Illinois, home to the Alton Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 1945, the orchestra is powered by the talented community it is a part of as well as from the surrounding communities both in Illinois and St. Louis, MO, with seventy members ranging in age from early teens to late eighties who are high school, home school, and college students, band and orchestra directors and teachers, public school teachers and college professors, engineers, health care workers, business persons and craftsmen, all coming together thanks to a love of music! The ASO is composed of all orchestral instruments, including strings, and they perform from September to June, taking the summer months off. It is led by an advisory Board of Directors filled by community members and orchestra musicians. The current conductor, Edward Dolbashian, is also the Director of Conducting Studies at the University of Missouri in addition to his conducting duties for the Alton Symphony Orchestra. Dolbashian is a highly trained musician, beginning in high school and going extensively through the years, and his solo instrument is the oboe, but his passion is orchestral conducting. A second conductor, Shane Williams, directs the Pops concert ever year, which is the orchestra’s biggest fundraiser. Something we thought was really cool about the Alton Symphony Orchestra is how important the promotion of music and music education for school children is to them. Some of the members of the orchestra are students from the local community college in Godfrey (where the ASO holds their concerts) who are performing with the orchestra as a way to receive school credit because the college does not have an orchestra, and the ASO takes great pride in these young musicians. The orchestra also performs concerts for the community school children every year. Every area school is invited to bring students, and the ASO plays for close to 2000 of them over the course of two concerts. In fact, the importance of providing young generations with the experience of music is in the orchestra’s mission statement, which says they wish to “enhance the appreciation of fine music in a more diverse audience, develop the appreciation of orchestral music in children over a wider area, and augment the number of young musicians in the orchestra” (see Mission, Since Altissimo! is a company specializing in military music, it’d be silly for us not to mention that the ASO has all kinds of veterans who play with them! Practically every branch of the military is accounted for in the orchestra. While none are known to have played in the military ensembles, it’s awesome that they’re sharing their talent and love of music with the country they served and protected during their years in the military. The music the ASO performs is selected based on conductor and member input, through a program selection committee, and also around any upcoming events. For the month of February, the ASO has been preparing for a celebration concert for the 200th Birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, aptly titled “A Lincoln Tribute,” on February 21. Also, for the Halloween program this past fall, the ASO took requests from the audience and ended up playing pieces from Phantom of the Opera, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jurassic Park among others. While traditional music is part of the repertoire, the Alton Symphony Orchestra doesn’t mind stepping outside the music box to have a little extra fun! The Alton Symphony Orchestra works hard and plays hard to be a viable part of the Alton community, and we are proud to present them as our Spotlight Band of the Month! For more information on the Alton Symphony Orchestra, click here to visit their website! *Special thanks to the Alton Symphony Orchestra for their interest in the Spotlight! **Extra special thanks to ASO member Karon Ismari for being a great liaison and for her fabulous answers to our questions!! We appreciate your hard work! ***If you have a suggestion for a future Community Band Spotlight, please send your suggestions to with the subject line reading "Spotlight Suggestion**