Ars Viva to draw the curtain after two decades

Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 9:48 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Alan and Gayle Heatherington
Alan and Gayle Heatherington

Ars Viva’s season-closing concert next month will be its final performance, as the critically acclaimed chamber orchestra closes its doors after twenty years.

Music director Alan Heatherington made the announcement at Sunday’s Ars Viva concert at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

Gayle Heatherington, Ars Viva excutive director, said Monday morning that the ensemble was in “excellent financial health” with record subscription and single ticket sales and that the decision to draw the curtain was purely “a personal one.”

“It has been a wonderful run making great music with incredible musicians who are a delight, both professionally and personally,” said Alan Heatherington, in a released statement. “Our collaborations with the Music Institute of Chicago have benefited countless young children and aspiring musicians.”

“Alan and I, along with a wonderfully supportive Board of Directors, began Ars Viva 20 years ago and have dedicated ourselves to its success,” added Gayle Heatherington. “We have now reached a time in our lives where we wish to pursue new directions and devote our energies elsewhere. We will miss the orchestra, but most of all we will miss performing for our loyal audience, many of whom have become dear friends over the years.”

With a healthy complement of Chicago Symphony Orchestra members, the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra has long held sway as the top chamber orchestra in the region, with consistently polished and incisive performances under Heatherington’s baton. His Brahms and Sibelius cycles won especially high critical praise and the conductor’s witty and folksy introductions also made the events popular with its Skokie audience.

Heatherington will continue to serve as music director of the Chicago Master Singers.

In recent years, the conductor has turned his attention to religious ministry. He hopes to be ordained as an Anglican minister in the coming months and, with wife Gayle, is considering founding a new church by their home in Libertyville.

The revised program for Ars Viva’s final concert May 17 will offer Dvorak’s Othello Overture, Miklos Rozsa’s Violin Concerto with soloist Ilya Kaler, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Sibelius’s Finlandia.

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