Orchestra conducting holiday concert Sunday

Program includes audience sing-along

A weekend concert aims to celebrate the holidays and bring cheer to the season with a combination of serious/classical and pops/holiday music, including an audience sing-along.

The Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra will present “Winter Dreams” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Ottawa High School Auditorium, 211 E. Main St., Ottawa. The performance will be preceded by a “Chat with the Conductor” from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m.

The concert, which is open to the public, is sponsored by Wendy and Aziz Asphahani, along with season sponsors Ning Communications and Ottawa Radio.

Admission to the concert is by season membership, individual ticket available at ivso.org or for purchase at the door. College students with an ID can purchase discounted tickets, and K-12 students can enter for free. The auditorium is handicapped accessible.

Meet the guest conductor

Guest Conductor Glenn Block will lead the orchestra in a program of music for the season, beginning with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, "Winter Dreams," followed by Leroy Anderson's medley, "A Christmas Festival," and "Hanukkah Festival" by Lucas Richman, an arrangement of traditional tunes that mark the celebration of the Jewish holiday. The performance will also include "Russian Christmas Music" by Alfred Reed, based on ancient Russian Christmas carols and Eastern Orthodox liturgical music. The concert will conclude with "A Holly Jolly Sing-Along," which features many holiday favorites and invites audience participation.

Glenn Block is in his 28th year as the director of orchestras and professor of conducting at Illinois State University. From 1983 to 2007, he led the Kansas City Youth Symphony program to being one of the largest and most recognized youth symphony programs in the country. Prior to coming to Illinois in the fall of 1990, Block served in numerous faculty and music director roles throughout the nation and has performed master classes throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America.

Block was educated at the Eastman School of Music with a Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego. A frequent guest conductor, he has appeared in 42 states with all-state and professional orchestras in the United States, Europe and South America.

An active researcher, he has been the recipient of numerous Illinois State University, University of Missouri, and National Endowment of the Humanities grants that have resulted in critical editions of the orchestral music of Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and George Gershwin. In 1985, he was appointed Research Consultant to the Orchestra Library Information Service of the American Symphony Orchestra League, where his responsibilities included the organization of critical sources and errata information for the orchestral repertoire housed in a national database in Washington, D.C.

Beginning in 2012, he has annually toured through South America with concerts in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. In the summer of 2014, he returned to South America and also guest-conducted in Italy. In the fall of 2015, he returned to Buenos Aires to make his conducting debut at the Teatro Colón and made a second trip to Argentina to conduct in Mar del Plata in November 2015.

In January 2016, he was on sabbatical from Illinois State University, living and conducting in South America, researching El Sistema orchestra programs in South America, Italy and Vietnam. In July 2016, he conducted four orchestras in Asunción, Paraguay.

In 2017, he returned to guest-conduct in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Italy, China and Vietnam, in addition to his concerts in the United States. He was invited to serve as Principal Guest Conductor with the National Symphony of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City for the 2016–2017 seasons. In 2017, he was also invited to lead the international V. Seminario in Dirección Orquestal (V. Seminar in Orchestral Conducting) and orchestra concerts at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 2018 he was invited to guest-conduct in Wuhan, China (March), Asunción, Paraguay (June), Malaysia and Vietnam (November) and a return to Argentina to the Teatro Colón (November).