The Illinois Council of Orchestras has named Rockford Symphony Orchestra Music Director Steven Larsen its 2016 Conductor of the Year in the professional orchestra category, and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra Professional Orchestra of the Year for 2016.
Larsen also received the award in 1999 and 2006. The ESO had previously won in its category in 1988, 1999 and 2005.
Larsen is now in his 25th season as Music Director of the RSO. The orchestra announced Tuesday that Larsen has renewed his contract as Music Director through the 2019-2020 season.
An awards panel of judges drawn from the Illinois Council of Orchestras Board of Directors and independent professional musicians reviewed nominations representing orchestras, youth orchestras, and chamber ensembles from throughout Illinois.
Founded in 1974, the Council each year recognizes youth, community and professional ensembles, ‘friends’ groups and individuals for excellence in the field of musical performance, and for their support of musical organizations.
ESO Music Director Andrew Grams won Conductor if the Year in 2015. The Rockford Symphony Orchestra garnered Professional Orchestra of the Year in 1992 and 2007.
Other past winners include the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, named Community Orchestra of the Year in 2009, and its director Linc Smelser, Community Orchestra Conductor of the Year (also in 2009), and the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center's Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Ensemble of the Year in 2011.