Susan is responsible for all Lake Forest Symphony development, marketing, civic engagement and educational outreach initiatives. Susan works collaboratively with the Music Director and Board of Directors in addition to managing all symphony staff and volunteers.
In 2014 Susan was named "Executive Director of the Year" by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
Susan has built her career in arts management through positions at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Opera, and the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts. Prior to joining the Lake Forest Symphony Susan worked for the St. Edmund Hall and Jesus College development offices at the University of Oxford.
Susan received her Bachelor’s Degree with distinction from Stanford University in 2011, graduating with honors in Music and a minor in English Literature. Susan received a Master’s Degree in Musicology at the University of Oxford where she was the 2011–2012 Bowers-Stanford Scholar. She was also awarded an English-Speaking Union Scholarship. Susan’s scholarly research at Oxford focused on the use of coloratura technique in Thomas Adès’ opera The Tempest. She also presented a modern edition of Alessandro Scarlatti’s unpublished cantata “Che mai sarà di me,” including critical notes, final performance and recording at the Stanford Symposia of Undergraduate Research and Public Service in 2011.
Susan currently serves on the Executive Committee for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Overture Council and the Board of Directors of the Chicago Baroque Band, Rush Hour Concerts, and the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
Alex is responsible for office management, concert production, database control and communications at the Lake Forest Symphony. In addition, he assists with marketing, development, and financial planning. Alex previously held administrative positions with the Lira Ensemble and Intrigue Dance and Performing Arts Center in Chicago, Illinois.
A native of St. Louis, MO, Alex holds degrees in percussion performance from Northwestern University (M.M.), and Truman State University (B.M.), where he graduated summa cum laude with honors in music.
In April of 2012, Alex was named an Associate Member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, where he performed under the batons of Riccardo Muti and Jaap van Zweden. An advocate of new music and collaborative art, he has premiered chamber works by Joseph Schwantner and Robert Lombardo, performs regularly with the Chicago Composers Orchestra, and works with Chicago-area artists and actors to produce cross-disciplinary works.
Alex is a regular percussion coach for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. He also served as a member of the Civic Percussion Quartet as part of the MusiCorps outreach program, producing over 40 educational concerts for Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District.
Orchestra Personnel Manager
Tricia Melzer-Swaydrak has worked for the Lake Forest Symphony for 10 years and is responsible for engaging LFS musicians and coordinating Symphony auditions. A classically trained soprano, Tricia graduated with a degree in Voice Performance from Northwestern University, and has remained in the Chicago area as a church musician. She has traveled overseas to sing in some of the most beautiful cathedrals of the world in England and western Europe as a frequent soloist in the International Church Music Festival Gala Concerts under the direction of Sir David Willcocks, and European tours with The Chicago Master Singers under the direction of Alan Heatherington. Conjuring up concerts for the church and community here at home, she founded the annual sing-along concert “Hymn Fest,” now in its 8th year, has collaborated in an annual Memorial Day concert “America the Beautiful—For Those Who Gave Their All” with Navy Band Great Lakes (6 yrs. running), and her favorite concert “A Toy-Ful Celebration Holiday Concert” benefitting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys For Tots Program for the past 20 years. A true patriot, she has sung the National Anthem 6 times at Cubs games in Wrigley Field (and once at Comiskey Park, for the White Sox… Go Cubs)!
Often referred to as "The North Shore's Favorite Music Historian," Jim Kendros is entering his 11th season as Pre-Concert Lecturer for the Lake Forest Symphony.
As a much sought-after presenter, Jim is the speaker for the Elgin Symphony Listener's Club and is the Pre-Concert Lecturer for the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra. He has also been a featured speaker for Music of the Baroque.
As a composer, Jim has over 250 works in his current catalogue, ranging from solo works for piano, classical guitar and other instruments to large-scale orchestral and choral compositions.
Jim is often commissioned to compose civic works including "The Mount Prospect Overture," "Dance of Destiny" (for the city of Des Plaines), "Circle of Knowledge" (for the North Suburban Library System), and "The Ballad of Port Washington" (for the city of Port Washington, Wisconsin). His "Wheaton Sinfonia" for viola ensemble has been premiered by the violists of the Houston Symphony.
As a performer, Jim is passionate about performing on Baroque period string instruments. His concerts include music of Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart on both the Nyckelharpa (keyed violin of Sweden) and the French Hurdy Gurdy. Jim's concerto, "Adagio's Life" features the Nyckelharpa. His "Winter Solstice Fantasy" includes the Hurdy Gurdy with orchestra and choir, and was inspired by the beautiful winter scenes of Lake Bluff.
Jim has recently released his premier CD of original piano works, "Fermata's Journey," and features these works in his many performances.
Graphic Designer Kristin Ashley
Kristin Ashley is an award-winning Lake Bluff-based fine artist and graphic designer focusing in both print and web design. Her current clients include the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago, the Columban Fathers, Jim Kendros Music and the Northbrook Symphony. She has also designed marketing pieces for the Elgin Symphony.
A longtime patron of the Lake Forest Symphony, Kristin is pleased to add the orchestra to her list of clients beginning this current season.
Kristin holds a BFA with honors from Barat College in Lake Forest, majoring in graphic design and painting. She is a member of several local art guilds and frequently exhibits her fine art including her unique feather paintings and exquisite nature photography.
She has served as the Art Director for many North Shore-based publications including Chicago Home and Garden, Winnetka Magazine, Hinsdale Magazine, North Shore Home, Lake Shore Design, and other local publications focusing on community, architecture, interior design, landscaping design and sustainable living.
Kristin's guiding statement is "Let Your Vision Take Flight." She combines her skills as a fine artist, graphic designer and photographer to realize her client's artistic visions and marketing/sales objectives.
Be part of the renowned Lake Forest Symphony Association. Many different talents and skills are needed to provide management and support for this cultural treasure.
The Executive Director is the chief executive responsible for all aspects of Symphony administration,
programs, and strategic planning. The Executive Director will take a leading role in guiding the LFS towards
achieving rigorous fundraising and community engagement goals. The Executive Director is responsible for
all aspects of Symphony operations including artistic administration; financial management; fundraising;
marketing; audience development; public relations and promotion; concert production; human resources;
education; and community engagement. The position reports directly to the President of the Board of
The Executive Director will work regularly with the Board of Directors and is responsible for communicating
effectively with the Board and providing, in a timely and accurate manner, all information necessary for the
Board to function properly and to make informed decisions.
The Executive Director develops resources sufficient to ensure the financial health of the organization,
including the preparation of annual budgets, fiscal management, and careful monitoring of earned and
The Executive Director takes a leadership role in fundraising. S/he actively identifies, cultivates, and solicits
gifts from all sources. S/he provides guidance and support to the fundraising efforts of the Board. S/he
ensures that the systems and procedures are in place for the proper acknowledgement and stewardship of
gifts and for compliance with grant requirements and applicable laws.
The Executive Director works in close partnership with the Music Director in evaluating existing activities
and designing new programs that achieve and advance LFS’s mission. S/he develops partnerships and
collaborations with organizations both locally and nationally to promote awareness for the Lake Forest
Symphony’s mission and unique service in our community.
The Executive Director is the visible representative and spokesperson for the LFS with the organization’s
many stakeholders, community partners, and presenters. S/he actively participates in local, regional, and
national organizations as an advocate for the work of the LFS.
The ideal candidate will demonstrate a clear commitment to the mission of the Lake Forest Symphony and
the art of live orchestral performance.
The successful candidate will have executive leadership experience with a not-for-profit organization,
preferably in the performing arts. S/he will have the demonstrated ability to work effectively with creative
artists. S/he will have successful experience collaborating with a volunteer President in developing an engaged
and effective governing Board.
The successful candidate will be a strategic thinker with the ability to lead, develop, and execute both short-
and long-term plans to expand the reach and impact of LFS while increasing support from both individual
and institutional donors. S/he will have a track record of success in generating contributed income from
foundations, corporations, government, and a broad base of individual patrons. S/he will be able to write and
speak persuasively to diverse audiences about the work of the LFS.
The successful candidate will be knowledgeable about the business of music, including commissioning,
performance rights, collective bargaining agreements, artist contracts, electronic media, and concert
production. S/he will have successful experience developing and managing both annual operating budgets
and project budgets. S/he will have a track record for achieving budget goals.
The successful candidate will be a leader who welcomes and encourages innovation in programming and
concert presentation. S/he will be a person of integrity and high ethical standards. S/he will be an excellent
listener and a natural collaborator.
The successful candidate will welcome the opportunity to work in the Lake County Community and to take
full advantage of the resources available to advance the mission, expand the programs, and develop support
for the Lake Forest Symphony.
Please prepare a cover letter that describes your specific interest in the Lake Forest Symphony and outlines
your qualifications for the position. Send with a resume, salary history or requirements, and contact
information for at least three professional references. Electronic submissions are requested. All applications
will be treated as confidential and references will not be called without the candidate’s knowledge and
Please send materials to:
Lake Forest Symphony - Executive Director Search
c/o Kelsey Sommer
Lake Forest Symphony
400 East Illinois Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Internships: Lake Forest Symphony offers unpaid internships in Marketing, Graphic Design and Concert Production. Please send your résumé and letter of interest to email@example.com.