Symphony guild, director win honors
CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois Council of Orchestras has named the Guild of the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra the 2013 Guild of the Year. Again.
And the council picked CUSO executive director Jeffrey Farlow-Cornell as recipient of the 2013 General Manager of the Year Award.
Just last year, Kip Pope, the president of the symphony board, was the recipient of the council's 2012 Board President of the Year award. And Helen Jahn, a past president and long-time member of the board of the Guild, last year received honorable mention for the Volunteer of the Year Award.
The CUSO Guild also received the Guild of the Year Award in 2008.
Farlow-Cornell, who has held various volunteer and paid positions with the orchestra through the years, will retire in June.
Her love of classical music comes from growing up in a home where her grandmother taught piano and her mother played cello. Farlow-Cornell went on to study voice and has sung in a number of area ensembles.
She began her work with the CUSO on the board of directors of the guild in the early 1990s, first as its membership chair and then treasurer.
She served as guild president in 1994-95 and was a major player in helping re-establish the orchestra's prominence in the community by serving on the board beginning in 1994 and as president from 1997 to 2000.
She continued her volunteer work with the orchestra while she worked as a professional development officer at the University of Illinois and through her first retirement. However, her passion for the orchestra took her out of retirement to serve first as the orchestra's marketing director, then development director.
She first retired in July 2010. A month later, after the orchestra's executive director fell ill, she offered to help out and became the interim executive director.
As the board was about to launch a search for a new music director, Farlow-Cornell remained as interim executive director and later was appointed executive director.
The 130-member guild is the major fundraising arm for the orchestra, having raised more than $100,000 over the past five years. Every other year, the guild offers a series of In Good Taste parties, which raise nearly $30,000 to be spread over two years.
This season, In Good Taste has 15 parties, beginning with the opening gala last August and ending with Dinner Under the Stars with Atron on Aug. 17.
Guild members also help the orchestra staff organize after-concert parties at local restaurants and in members' homes, and greet guests at orchestra concerts.
The guild and members of the orchestra also present each year 30 in-school concerts featuring small ensembles in classrooms and assemblies at schools within a 50-mile radius of Champaign-Urbana.
And in April of each year, the orchestra presents free full-orchestra Youth Concerts in the Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. More than 4,000 grade school students attend those concerts, where guild members act as ushers.
The orchestra has received Creative Mix grants from the Urbana Public Arts Grants program for its 2010, 2011 Youth Concerts and for its 2012 and 2013 In-School Concerts.
Another major guild project is its auditions to provide talented youths with scholarships to attend Illinois Summer Youth Music Camp at the UI. Judges from the UI School of Music select the winning students, and the guild pays to send eight to 12 of them to the Illinois Summer Youth Music program.
The CUSO is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. It receives no financial support from the University of Illinois.