Ellie Kirk joins Illinois Symphony Orchestra


Ellie Kirk is the new principal harpist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra following an audition on May 12. Held at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., 14 harpists auditioned, with seven competitors advancing to semi–finals and two moving on to the finals. All three rounds were held behind a screen, and following the audition, Kirk was invited back to meet the audition committee. “Everyone was so welcoming and warm! There was an obvious sense of family and community within the members I met,” Kirk says. Under the direction of Ken Lam, the Illinois Symphony serves the Springfield and Bloomington/Normal communities, with concerts held in both locations. “Their mission is to inspire audiences through exceptional performances and programs. I’m really excited to join the orchestra and be a part of their innovative programming!”

Ellie Kirk, third from right, pictured with the audition committee following her win

Kirk shares more about her experience:

“Playing in orchestra is such a wholly consuming and inspiring experience—to be a part of a larger orchestral sound is so thrilling. But auditions can be nerve–wracking and sometimes seem so far removed from what it takes to actually do the job. At the Illinois Symphony audition, I tried to visualize what it’s like to play each excerpt in the context of the orchestral fabric, and that helped me get out of my head while playing. I also recorded myself almost every day in the month leading up to the audition, and played lots of mock auditions for friends, mentors, and colleagues.”

Kirk has been principal harpist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago since 2018. She has a master’s degree in orchestral performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts where she studied with Marguerite Lynn Williams, principal harpist with the Lyric Opera Orchestra. She has also appeared in concerts with the Lyric Opera and the Chicago Harp Quartet.

To learn more, visit https://www.ilsymphony.org/.


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