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ESO Holiday Showcase wraps season with harmony
Elgin Symphony wraps season's music beautifully
By Barbara J. Millburger | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/6/2007 12:29 AM

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Last year's Elgin Symphony Orchestra Holiday Showcase was its first at the Sears Centre. This year, it will be better than ever, the orchestra says.

The 2007 Holiday Showcase takes multiple stages at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

"The move to the Sears Centre came about when an ESO board member, who also is a Sears Centre board member, suggested we consider having our holiday show at the Sears Centre," said Robert Hanson, Elgin Symphony Orchestra music director.

The ESO holiday concert had previously been held for 25 years at The Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin.

"One show at the Sears Centre draws more than three shows at The Hemmens," Hanson said.

"We now have a show instead of a concert."

New this year

"Some minor changes have been made to last year's show.

"Some acts have been moved closer to the audience. The Cirque du Soleil aerialists will fly over the ice, and the kids' chorus will be closer to the seats."

Also, last year, because the Sears Centre was so new, the parking facilities were not compete. This year, parking will be more convenient.

The biggest change was the hiring of a director, according to Hanson.

"We hired Michael Weber, who was previously the artistic director at Drury Lane Water Tower, and who directed the recent Jeff Awards in Chicago."

The performers

Music, of course, is the foundation of the show.

Soprano Diane Penning and tenor Benjamin Brecher host the show.

Local high school and college vocalists will unite to form the Holiday Festival Chorus. The Harper College Choir, and high school stucents from Elgin Academy and Streamwood, St. Edward, Schaumburg, Fenton and Glenbard North high schools will sing holiday favorites with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Choral Union and the Elgin Children's Choir.

"We are thrilled to be joined by such an energetic and talented group of young musicians," said ESO general manager Julie Griffin.

"Their participation truly makes this year's Holiday Showcase an expression of collaboration and community music-making in the western suburbs."

The magic of the holidays comes through with the performances of the Cirque du Soleil aerialists and jugglers. Also, ice dancing pair Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov will take the ice -- as will the Chicago Jazz Synchronized Ice Skating Troupe.

What holiday event would be complete without the essential holiday couple? Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will make their way around the Sears Centre, wishing happy holidays to all.

The performance takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. Individual tickets start at $17 for children and $29 for adults. Tickets are available at the Sears Centre box office, select Amcore Bank outlets, by phone at (888) SEARSTIX (732-7784), or online at

If you go

What: ESO Holiday Showcase

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sears Centre, between Route 59 and Beverly Road just north of I-90, Hoffman Estates

Admission: Prices start at $17 for children and $29 for adults.

Info and tickets: Sears Centre box office, select Amcore Bank Outlets, by phone at (888) SEARSTIX (732-7784), or online at