Alan Heatherington (born 1945) is one of the leading orchestra conductors in Illinois. He has conducted and/or played with virtually all of the major orchestras in the Chicago area. He is the Music Director of Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Master Singers, and is Music Director Emeritus of the Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra,
Early life and education
Heatherington grew up in Rochester, New York, the child of two musicians. Heatherington began his musical training at age five, first in piano and later in violin, voice, and conducting. While still in high school, he studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He later turned down a scholarship at Eastman to attend Houghton College in New York and the seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Bannockburn, Illinois (now part of Trinity International University). After graduating from seminary, he taught theology and biblical studies at the Moody Bible Institute for ten years. He received a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, he studied conducting under Margaret Hillis and Bernard Rubenstein. He also studied violin, winning the honors competition.
Early professional career
Heatherington made his debut at Carnegie Hall with the Delft Trio in 1981. He conducted the Chicago String Ensemble from 1977 until 1995.
Heatherington has taught extensively at universities. From 1981 to 1986, he was director of orchestral conducting and string instruction at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1988, he became associate professor of music at North Park College, and conducted the college orchestra there until 1993.
From 1995 to 2003, he was Director of Music Ministries at the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest, Illinois. He was conductor of the professional choir at Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago from 1992 to 2000. He was the Artistic Director and co-conductor of the Innsbruck International Choral Festival for four years. He was Music Director of the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 2014 and the Lake Forest Symphony from 2000 to 2013, and is Music Director Emeritus of both orchestras..
Maestro Heatherington continues as Music Director of the Chicago Master Singers (since 1989). In 2016 he led the chorus for the 12th time on a highly successful European tour in the Netherlands, France and Germany. He has been a guest conductor with numerous orchestras, operas, ballets, and choral groups in the United States and has conducted concerts in many of the major cultural capitals of Europe, including London, Paris, Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Lucerne, Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence, Prague, Warsaw, Riga, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Budapest, Amsterdam and Cologne. In 2007 he made his European opera debut conducting Rossini's Barber of Seville at the Kraków Opera.
In 2013, Heatherington resumed his seminary studies, completing the Anglican Studies Program at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. He was ordained Priest in the Anglican Church in North America in February, 2017, and is now pastor of Grace Anglican Fellowship congregations in Libertyville and Lincolnshire, Illinois.
Awards and critical acclaim
Heatherington is among the most highly regarded and revered choral and orchestral conductors in Chicago. He is also a distinguished professional violinist. He is particularly known for bringing a microphone on stage and delivering an impromptu introduction and commentary on one or more of the pieces the orchestra is performing.
The Chicago Tribune's classical music critic, reporting on an Ars Viva concert, wrote that "Heatherington knows precisely what he wants and has the leadership skills to bring his musical ideas alive through a solid ensemble that includes numerous Chicago Symphony players in key positions."
In 2005, Maestro Heatherington was named the Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. He was named by the Chicago Tribune as a Chicagoan of the Year for 2004. In 2006, the Lake Forest Symphony, which he then directed, was named Illinois Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. In 2010 he received the Cultural Leadership Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, for "sustained leadership, extending beyond his own organizations and community, that has profoundly impacted the state of the Arts in Illinois."
- About Alan Heatherington, Lake Forest Symphony website
- Symphony Spotlight - Maestro Alan Heatherington, Lake Forest Symphony website, Sept. 2007.
- Alan Heatherington, Music Director Ars Viva website
- Jonathan Wentworth Associates, Ltd. <http://www.jwentworth.com/conductors/alan_heatherington/index.htm>
- John Von Rhein, "Ars Viva still hitting home runs," Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2009.