Last Friday, the Illinois Wesleyan University School of Music presented a final concert in honor of Steven W. Eggleston’s 35-year music career at Illinois Wesleyan and the 30th anniversary of the University’s Civic Orchestra, which he founded a few years before founding the IWU Wind Ensemble.
The finale, which took place at the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts, featured performances by the Illinois Wesleyan Civic Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, accompanied by School of Music students and alumni who worked with Eggleston.
Eggleston, who is retiring this year, discussed his passion for teaching. “My greatest accomplishments are the successes of my students … as professional players, as educators and, now, as the parents of some of my current students,” he said.
The Wind Ensemble started off the concert and performed Strauss’ Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare, Ticheli’s Postcard, Wagner’s Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, Shostakovich’s Folk Dances and Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis.
After their performance, the Civic Orchestra finished the night with two well-known works, Les Preludes by Liszt and Pines of Rome by Respighi.
Alum Chris Frye ’96 worked very closely with Eggleston from the beginning and helped connect School of Music alumni to participate in the production.
Frye said, “Steve’s wife, Mary, and I discussed his profound impact and the most rewarding gift to make this performance special. We decided to include the alumni in a big concert. That’s when I reached out via a Facebook message to all of my school of music alumni friends. I sent the original message out and within 24 hours, 100 alumni received the message, 50 of which said they were 100 percent committed to performing.”
IWU’s Director of Alumni Relations, Ann Harding, shared her amazement of the alumni’s response to Eggleston’s retirement and said they were eager to perform together for his final performance.
Harding went on to say, “I couldn’t say enough of how well it turned out. The alumni wanted to perform with him one last time. It was wonderful to know that his family saw how much Steve means to so many people.”
In addition, Eggleston’s impact on students will continue through the Eggleston Legacy Music Scholarship, which will help future students in their pursuit of a music career at IWU.
Frye also added, “I was struck by how quickly we were able to fund a scholarship in his name. It takes 25,000 dollars to fund one of those endowment scholarships. The fact that we were able to fund it from school of music alumni in a week and a half is impressive.”
Many students who worked with Eggleston acknowledge his impact on them and appreciate the professor’s dedication and genuine love for music.
“The concert on Friday was a once-in-a-lifetime event for both the performers and the audience members. Over one hundred alumni came back from all over the country, including Alaska, in order to play in the orchestra under Professor Eggleston’s direction one last time,” said senior Mark Emmert.
Eggleston, who founded the Wind Ensemble in 1979 along with the Civic Orchestra in 1984, served as director for both groups. The Civic Orchestra is comprised of students from numerous disciplines and performs various orchestral collections.
Though students are nostalgic about Eggleston’s retirement, they keep with them a sense of growth as individuals due to his hard work and mark on Illinois Wesleyan.
Emmert said, “Professor Eggleston has a father like love for his students and at each rehearsal and class, he tirelessly works to better his students as musicians and people. I have been significantly shaped and impacted by his musicianship, professorship, friendship and countless jokes during my four years at this school.”