Robert Hanson has been one of only three music directors in the Elgin Symphony’s fifty-eight year history. He joined the ESO as assistant conductor to Grammy winning conductor, Margaret Hillis in 1974, becoming Co-Music Director with Hillis in 1983 and Music Director in 1985. During his 34-year tenure with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Robert Hanson has demonstrated the rare ability to guide an organization through multiple phases of growth, from building the ESO into Illinois’ first professional suburban orchestra in 1985 to becoming one of the premier regional orchestras in the United States.
In 2004, the Chicago Tribune named Hanson “Chicagoan of the Year”. The Illinois Council of Orchestra named him “Illinois Cultural Leader,” the Council’s highest award, and in 2001, “Conductor of the Year.” He has served as Music Director of other musical organizations including the Elgin Choral Union, the Lake County Chamber Orchestra (IL), and the Traverse Symphony Orchestra (MI.) In 2004, Maestro Hanson was inducted into the prestigious Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame, which includes such luminaries as Maud Powell. Robert Hanson is also an award-winning published composer whose works, including twenty-six commissions, have been performed internationally.