Lines out the door for Evanston Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday concert

Sophia Siddiqui, Staff Writer

On Sunday, Dec. 11, ETHS hosted the Evanston Symphony Orchestra’s (ESO) yearly holiday concert. The line for tickets was out the door and wrapping around Dodge Ave as Evanston residents waited for the performances of various groups as they accompanied the orchestra. The North Shore Choral Society, Chicago Ballet Arts, Evanston Children’s Choir, Evanston Dance Ensemble (EDE) and The Evanston Symphony Holiday Gospel Choir all joined the ESO for their two-hour excursion into music and dance. 

“It’s the only time we really get to collaborate with so many different groups, let alone dance with a live orchestra,” said EDE dancer Sylvia Wallace. “It’s a chance to collaborate with others and just make a wonderful show to celebrate holidays and winter.”

In the spirit of the holidays, ESO hosted a raffle along with the show, where winners could win various items such as tickets to future shows, lessons at Evanston’s Childrens’ Choir, and gifts cards worth up to $1,000. All proceeds were donated to Music in Your World, a program that is bringing free music education to kids in the district 65 area. 

Helping call out raffle winners was the show’s special yearly guest, Santa Claus and his elves. He made his appearance to watch the second half of the show as the elves passed out candy to the audience. 

“I always love when they have the people come into the crowd with candy, it’s definitely one of my favorite parts,” said volunteer and yearly attendant Imogen Eyler. 

The spirit was running high in the theater as the Evanston Symphony Holiday Gospel Choir had people clapping along with their rendition of Jesus, Oh, What a Wonderful Child and Chicago Ballet Arts had audience members unable to control their awws with their youngest performers dance to The Skaters Waltz

Overall, the concert was an overwhelming success, leading to ESO conductor Lawrence Eckerling remarking, “I can’t remember this concert with this full of a house.”

However, despite the onstage success, there were complaints on the handling of COVID-19 and the treatment of the volunteers. All attendees were required to wear a mask and provide proof of vaccination to enter the building, and it was primarily the job of the student volunteers to check them. 

“It does seem like the handling of volunteers is really bad this year, and a lot of the people who come to these concerts are a good bit rude to the teens helping out,” Eyler said. “In my opinion, teenagers should not be tasked with checking vaccine cards and IDs.”

The ESO continues to have a strict mask policy and plans on keeping it at least through the 2022-2023 season.

Evanston residents and enjoyers of the ESO are eager to see what next year may bring for the holiday concert and the orchestra as a whole.