CSO eyes adding concerts in DuPage County

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (June 7, 2012)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has confirmed a report in Crain’s Chicago Business that it is in serious discussions with DuPage County officials about possibly presenting a permanent, multi-week concert season there, pitched to west suburban patrons.

It’s too early to tell whether the added dates would come out of the orchestra’s downtown schedule at Orchestra Hall or from the CSO’s annual touring schedule, orchestra officials said.

Neither CSO Association nor DuPage County officials have said when a west suburban series would be implemented, or where the concerts would be held.

One potential site is the Arranmore Center for the Arts near Oswego on the DuPage/Will County border. Indoor as well as outdoor venues are under consideration, officials said.

The earliest a western-suburban series could be added to the CSO’s crowded schedule probably would be the 2013-14 season, since the 2012-13 concert schedule, announced in February, is already locked in place.

CSO Association President Deborah Rutter told Crain's other, unspecified options also are under consideration besides adding a west-suburban series. No major changes from the present schedule are being planned, she added.

Talks began about six months ago, according to CSO spokeswoman Raechel Alexander, and have lately moved to a second phase of discussions involving CSO Association President Deborah Rutter and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.

Spurred by complaints about lengthy travel times from CSO patrons living in the western suburbs, the orchestra commissioned a market study with an eye toward expanding the orchestra’s footprint in the DuPage region. The county is home to a relatively affluent population and is a major corporate headquarters for such firms as Federal Signal Corp. and Molex Inc.

“We are committed to our subscribers and downtown patrons and can reassure them that any decisions we are currently considering would not negatively impact them,” said the CSO’s Alexander. “I’m pretty confident CSO subscribers will not have to drive to Oswego as  part of their subscription.

“Entering into discussions about how we may best utilize our assets and reach into new communities is very much a part of who we are and makes good business sense,” she added.

Having a regular concert presence in DuPage could prove a significant source of additional income for an orchestra that has seen some attrition in attendance in recent seasons. The CSO this season expects to sell 82-83 percent of its tickets at Orchestra Hall.

The CSO is no stranger to performing in the western suburbs, having appeared there each year for the last two years. Its regular summertime venue is the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, a 76-year relationship that is unlikely to be affected by the addition of concerts in DuPage County.