History of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

IPO Mission: The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra will provide concerts of compelling professional symphonic music, support music education, and expand audience awareness of musical excellence for the diverse communities of the greater Chicago region.


Now entering its 40th season, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) is the largest performing arts organization in Chicago’s Southland providing professional orchestral music of beauty and excellence to the region. The IPO’s repertoire ranges from Baroque and Classical masterpieces, to world premieres and modern favorites.

During the 40th Anniversary Season, IPO will perform five Saturday evening classical concerts and a Holiday Pops matinee concert in December, along with four youth education concerts in May for approximately 4,000 Southland students. All 2017-18 season concerts will be held in Ozinga Chapel at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. The IPO will also present its fifth season of Summer Music at Ravisloe, a series of four IPO musician ensemble performances at Ravisloe Golf Club in Homewood.

The IPO’s history dates back to 1954. Then known as the Park Forest Orchestra, it was formed at the community level with volunteer musicians. In 1978, the orchestra was reformed into a professional chamber orchestra performing in Park Forest’s Freedom Hall under the direction of Tim Gareth Bobinsky

In 1982, the orchestra was renamed to better reflect its regional mission. Led by Robert Frisbie, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra performed in Bloom High School’s Workman Auditorium and  Homewood-Flossmoor High School's Mall Auditorium. The auxiliary Friends of the IPO was initiated at this time to host special events each season to benefit the orchestra. 

Instrumental to IPO’s growing success was the naming of Carmon DeLeone as Music Director in 1986. During DeLeone’s 25 year tenure, the IPO expanded its Artists-in-the-Schools Education Program to include interactive Youth Concerts, which now reach over 5,000 third through eighth grade students every year. In the 1990s, the IPO performed in residence at the Center for the Performing Arts at Governors State University in University Park. In 2008, the orchestra began a new residency at the Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center in Frankfort, a regionally centralized location. 

Over the years, IPO has received coveted awards for artistic excellence. The Illinois Council of Orchestras named IPO the "Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year" in 1992 and again in 2010. In 2007 the IPO’s Board of Directors established the Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee Excellence in the Arts Award to honor an individual or organization whose vision, leadership, and achievements have resulted in major contributions to the arts and music. Past honorees include the Illinois Arts Council, Interlochen Center for the Arts, James Ginsberg of Cedille Records, Larry Johnson, and 98.7 WFMT-FM Radio Network.

In May, 2011, Carmon DeLeone became Conductor Laureate of the IPO. In June 2012, after an international search process, the IPO appointed David Danzmayr as Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Danzmayr served from 2012-2016.

On May 9, 2017, the IPO Board of Directors announced the hiring of Stilian Kirov as Music Director. Maestro Kirov joins the IPO as it begins its 40th Anniversary Season with concerts in Ozinga Chapel at Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights.