Susan Lape became general manager of the Lake Forest Symphony in September of 2012, when the orchestra was in the midst of dramatic changes. After 13 years at the helm, Maestro Alan Heatherington was beginning his final season as music director, and a search had to begin for a replacement.
The ensemble, Lake County’s only fully professional orchestra, gave two of its five concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings in the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts on the College of Lake County in Grayslake.
For the 2013-14 season the performances were moved to Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. According to the statement provided to the Illinois Council of Orchestras by Jay Owen, president of the Lake Forest Symphony board, that change “significantly increased our audience attendance in general and especially for children and seniors.”
The biggest job, however, was the search for a new music director, and Lape worked with both board members and musicians during this international process. Her task was to have the major works, guest artists and conductors in time for the mailing of the season subscription brochure.
With the help of Steve Robinson, senior vice president and general manager of WFMT, and Henry Fogel, former Chicago Symphony Orchestra president and dean of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Lape arranged a series a series of radio documentaries on WFMT titled “The Search.”
She has brought the audience into the selection process as well. At each concert audience members have the opportunity to give their opinion of the conductor-candidate.
“This is such an exciting job to have,” Lape said. “The Lake Forest Symphony only exists because the community wants us. We’ve gone through so much change lately, but we will be able to announce the new music director during a garden party in Lake Forest in June.”
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