What We Do
The Wheaton Symphony was founded in 1959 by the longtime manager Donald Mattison. Besides managing the day-to-day operations of the group, Don is also a member of the board and plays in the orchestra. Since that time, the Wheaton Symphony has performed annually each summer, getting through in two months what would normally take other semi-professional ensembles a year to perform. That means that we can offer to our audiences a wide variety of music in a compressed timespan. No two of our concerts in a season are ever the same.
Who We Are
Wheaton Symphony is made up of both older and younger players. While the majority of woodwind and brass performers have played with us for many seasons, the string sections, which tend to have more fluid membership due to the larger number of available seats, are often made up of a few long-time members plus many new faces. Anyone can join the Wheaton Symphony, but there is an audition process. However, once you have made it into the Symphony, you are never required to audition again, unless you are absent one year or wish to gain a better chair position. The Wheaton Symphony is a member of both the League of American Orchestras as well as the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
Kevin McMahon studied orchestral, choral, and opera conducting at the University of Michigan with Gustav Meier, Carl St. Clair, Thomas Hilbish, Leo Najar, and H. Robert Reynolds and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with David E. Becker, James Smith, Beverly Taylor and William Farlow. McMahon's musical mentors include Margaret Hillis, Elizabeth A. H. Green, Gunther Schuller, and Maurice Abravanel. From 1985-1988, the Michigan-born McMahon was music director and conductor of the National Arts Chamber Orchestra, and from 1989-1994 the head conductor for the Lincoln Opera of Chicago. In 1995 he was appointed resident conductor of the Rome Festival (Italy), which allowed him to lead numerous concerts, operas, and ballets in his ten-year term there. Kevin McMahon was music director of the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra from 1995-2008. From 1999 he served as artistic director and conductor of the Maud Powell Music Festival and since 2005 as associate conductor of the New York Repertory Orchestra.
In the United States he has led orchestras in Chicago, Spokane, Tampa, Elgin, South Bend, Cleveland, Madison, Marquette, Washington, D.C., Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, Evanston, and Milwaukee. Furthermore, he has conducted orchestras in Germany, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Italy. In addition to his orchestra work, Kevin has devoted his life to opera. His most significant projects in recent years include new productions of his own operas Maud Powell-Queen of Violinists and Marilyn Monroe at the Maud Powell Music Festival, Hansel and Gretel at the same festival, and The Consul at Chamber Opera Chicago. He has worked at the opera houses in Chicago and South Bend as a guest conductor. Kevin has always been a strong supporter of contemporary music and has led a number of European premieres, United States premieres, and over fifty world premieres of stage and concert works. Among the many awards which he has received, the most prestigious was the Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Fellowship enabling him to pursue and earn a Doctor of Musical Arts. Kevin was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Sheboygan Symphony in Wisconsin in 2010, and is drawing large audiences.