It seems fitting that the return of symphonic music to Urbana’s Krannert Center on September 21 would be a University of Illinois School of Music ensemble, and no less of an ensemble than the premier orchestra of the School of Music, the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra. A masked audience and ensemble marked an unusual opening for symphonic music in the Foellinger Great Hall, but the music hardly seemed to mind.


Under the leadership of maestro William Eddins, the U of I Symphony showcased some of the most colorful music of the early 20th century to begin the concert. Maurice Ravel’s “Alborada del Gracioso” and Manuel de Falla’s Suite No. 2 from the ballet, “The Three-Corned Hat” date from the time Woodrow Wilson handed the baton to Warren G. Harding in Washington. But, unlike those two, these two musical works are filled with energy and color.

Eddins’ performances with his student ensemble has the verve and polish of a major symphony, and the energy necessary to bring the full colorful resonance of this glorious music to its full richness. Set the clock back more than 100 years to Thomas Jefferson’s last year in the Presidency and you have a major marker at the very birth of the Romantic era, “Symphony #5” of Ludwig van Beethoven. It is this work that fills the remainder of the program. Here again, Eddins and his orchestra are at full force and polish.

Image by Stephen Burian

A word here about a maestro whose name might not be familiar as he is a new addition to the University music faculty as of this academic year. William Eddins comes to the University of Illinois with an impressive pedigree. This Buffalo native has conducted major symphony orchestras in the US, Canada and Europe. He currently holds the title of Music Director Emeritus from the Edmonton Symphony in Alberta, Canada, where he was Music Director from 2005-2017. If that is not enough of an impressive resume, he is also an accomplished pianist with a degree in performance from the Eastman School of Music.

Eddins' debut as a conductor with the University’s premier orchestra hints at great sounds to come, and they are booked for monthly performances at the Krannert Center. Future concerts are scheduled for October 22, November 19, and December 7.

For further information go to Krannert Center's website, or call the Krannert Box office, 217-333-6280 during business hours. Note — At this writing, Intermezzo is still not open for evening dining or on weekends at all.

Top image from the University of Illinois School of Music Facebook page.