Skip to main content

Neighbors of Kane County

Elgin Symphony Orchestra CEO David Bearden Retires, Thanks Director Andrew Grams and "A Strong, Supportive Group" of Board Members

Jun 03, 2019 01:31PM

Chief Executive Officer David Bearden retired June 1 from ESO at the end of the current season. (Image by ESO)

Elgin - The Elgin Symphony Orchestra Chief Executive Officer David Bearden, retired yesterday, June 1, at the end of the current season.

Bearden was appointed to his position on July 1, 2012. Prior to serving as CEO, he served on the ESO Board of Directors. During Bearden’s tenure, the ESO was honored as the Illinois Orchestra of the Year for a record fourth time; Andrew Grams was named Music Director of the Year and the late Sterling “Stu” Ainsworth was named Volunteer of the Year, by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

Bearden released the following statement about his retirement and tenure with the ESO. “It has been my distinct honor to serve in this capacity with the ESO. During the last seven years, the orchestra has exhibited amazing artistic growth under the leadership of Andrew Grams. The ESO Board is a strong, supportive group.  I have been fortunate to know and learn from such great leaders. I want to thank the incredible patrons of the ESO for their belief, love and affirmation of the ESO mission. Thank you for your untiring support.”

“Sponsors and donors to the ESO have been supportive, consistent and appreciative of the work we do. No not-for-profit organization could exist without an army of volunteers. In the case of the ESO, we have been blessed with an Orchestra League and a Board of Trustees that raises funds for the orchestra, cares for our musicians, and advocates for the ESO on a daily basis. The dozens of volunteer ushers that work at each concert create a welcoming, warm atmosphere for each attendee. The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is a collection of world-class musicians. Their work, on the Hemmens stage and in other venues including schools and local hospitals, represents the finest professional musical talents in the country. We can never fully appreciate and recognize their dedication and positive attitude.”

“The successes and forward progress we have made over the last seven seasons is a direct reflection of a great staff that works tirelessly with amazing efficiency, effectiveness and creativity to make each season an artistic as well as financial success. I am eternally grateful to each of them for their support, friendship and esprit.”

“The ESO is on the cusp of innovative changes.  As we look forward to the coming season, there are changes in programming that will continue to broaden access of the entire region to the work of the ESO. We will also have an important announcement and exciting news about playing in Chicago next year. Those details will be announced soon. Finally, I want to thank David Conroy for his work and assistance in making this transition a smooth and orderly change. His friendship and can-do spirit is sincerely appreciated.“

David Conroy, ESO Executive Director, will assume Bearden’s responsibilities as head of the ESO while a national search for a new CEO is conducted.

Conroy, a retired electrical engineer/entrepreneur, has a long and distinguished career in business and not-For-profit leadership. In addition to serving on the Elgin Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, David also served as President of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO), the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) and as a Director of the United Way of Barrington.

Board Chair Richard Resseguie added, “on behalf of the Elgin Symphony Board of Directors, we want to sincerely thank Dave Bearden for his years of service to the ESO and to David Conroy for his assuming the role of Executive Director until a new CEO is selected. Both of these individuals have worked very closely together over the last several months and the transition will be handled in a very orderly and planned manner. We extend our best wishes and thanks to both.”

Andrew Grams, ESO Music Director, also commented. “I’m deeply humbled by all David Bearden has done for me and the ESO as CEO ever since I guest conducted our wonderful orchestra back in 2013 and am thankful for his continued service to music in his new development role.”


About the Elgin Symphony Orchestra: Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won the Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year a record-setting four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016 from the Illinois Council of Orchestras and strives to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the country. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available. Events often feature musicians performing in the lobby before concerts, and patrons can purchase unique, music-themed gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique. Pre-concert chats are given by Music Director Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances. Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to meet Andrew Grams, guest artists and ESO musicians at Mingle with the Musicians, held at area restaurants. Music historian Jim Kendros offers free Listeners Club discussions before ESO Classics Series concert weekends at the Gail Borden Public Library, Greenfields of Geneva and at the Barrington Area Library. Flex passes are available for choosing concerts at a later date, and if a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a small fee. The ESO is a world-class orchestra presenting quality musical explorations of some of the greatest music ever written, conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs. The ESO-Transforming the Symphony Experience. ElginSymphony.Org.


Source: Ashley Schoen 847-888-0404 ext. 234 a.schoen@elginsymphony.org