Since their first season in 1949-50, the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra has been striving to fulfill its mission "to entertain and inspire the community by performing live orchestral music." Music from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary Periods has been prepared under the direction of sixteen different conductors from the first, Russell Harvey (1949-60) to the present director, Lucia Matos. Local and international soloists have appeared with the IVSO and traditions - including the annual Pops Concert and the bi-annual Nutcracker ballet - have developed over the years. The business and development of the orchestra are overseen by a Board of Directors made up of community members from communities throughout the Illinois Valley.

     The vision of the IVSO involves engaging and educating the community. To meet this vision the annual Young Performers Competition and Concert was begun in 1968 encouraging Illinois Valley youth to audition as soloists and, if selected, perform with the orchestra. The first performance of Tchaikovsky's, The Nutcracker, in 1969, has lead to a performance of the ballet every other year with local dance academies supplying the dancers and choreographers. Community singers have also been engaged for periodic performances of Handel's, The Messiah, and other choral/symphonic works. Another ongoing educational program of the IVSO has the orchestra performing every year at area schools.

     The most ongoing vision of the IVSO, however, is to entertain "a growing audience by performing quality music." Symphonic works from the great masters to new composers provide the finest music from throughout music history and a variety of genres. Guest performances by local soloists and nationally and internationally acclaimed instrumentalists and vocalists provide the Illinois Valley audiences with the finest quality performers. And notes in the programs and comments from the conductor are designed to educate the IVSO audiences about the music they are hearing and the composers who wrote.

     Through a long and successful history the IVSO has "entertained and inspired the community by performing live orchestral music." As we look to the future under the direction of Maestra Matos, the orchestra is constantly looking for the best musicians, the finest soloists and Board Members who continue the highest quality and work to inspire an ever growing audience.