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Neighbors of DuPage

Irina Del Genio & John Schwartz present Free Talk, Birth of The Firebird, Sept 5, 7pm, Gail Borden Library, Elgin

Aug 14, 2018 12:46PM ● By Tim

Irina Del Genio and John Schwartz

Elgin, IL - Composer Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird was an instant critical and popular success, with Ballet Impresario Serge Diaghilev declaring “mark him well, he is a man on the eve of celebrity.” Stravinsky would go on to write two more ballets in quick succession, with The Rite of Spring shattering compositional norms, and causing a riot at its premiere.  Learn more about the composer and the time in which he wrote his music on Wednesday, September 5, 7:00 pm at the Gail Borden Public Library, Meadows Room.  Irina Del Genio and John Schwartz will lead the discussion into the politics, arts and culture of Russia and the world during the late 1800s-early 1900s.  Register for the free event at Discounts for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s (ESO) upcoming opening concerts Sept 15 & 16 will be available, as will information about the entire 2018-19 ESO season. The Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) is set to open its exciting 2018-19 season with concerts September 15 & 16 featuring Stravinsky’s The Firebird, Debussy’s famous Clair de Lune, Chopin’s Grand Valse Brillante and Cello Concerto by modern composer Mason Bates.  For concert tickets, which start at just $30, call 847.888.4000 or visit ElginSymphony.Org. 

 Irina Del Genio is Associate Dean, Liberal, Visual & Performing Arts at Elgin Community College. Ms. Del Genio’s interest in U.S. - Russian relations goes back to 1995, when she attempted to create the first American Studies Program and American Studies Center at the Ural Federal University of Post-Soviet Russia. It is there and then she understood the irony and the power of “fake news”, clichés, and generalizations. Ever since, she has been trying to build bridges between our two nations. She is hopeful that someday both Russians and Americans will move beyond corrupt politicians, media, money, geography, and other pesky things that separate our great nations, and start paying attention to the bigger matters that unite us. Ms. Del Genio has an M.A., Political Science (International Studies) from Loyola University of Chicago; a Ph.D., Political Philosophy (Area Studies) and an M.A. in World History from Ural State University, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

 Elgin native John Schwartz has had a passion for Russian history and language since he was a teenager and read the book “Nicholas and Alexandra.” He received his AAS from Elgin Community College in 1973, his BA from the American University in Washington, D.C., in 1975 and his MA in German Studies, also from AU, in 1977. In the course of a 34-year career as an analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense, John also taught Russian to DOD civilians and military officers. Returning to Elgin in 2013, John has been teaching Russian at Elgin Community College since 2015 and conducts the German Conversation Club at Gail Borden Public Library. He has lived in Germany and the UK and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Turkey, finally reaching Saint Petersburg in 2014. 

The Gail Borden Public Library has received 20 awards, including Recipient of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Services and Recipient of the 2010 Elgin Hispanic Network Organization of the Year.  The Main Library opened in October 2003 and is the third largest public library building in Illinois, after Chicago and Schaumburg. The library serves 144,597 residents in Elgin, South Elgin and portions of Hoffman Estates, Streamwood and Bartlett, has over 1 million visitors, and is the largest library district in the State of Illinois for population served.  For more information, visit

 Elgin Community College (ECC) is a comprehensive, fully accredited community college located in Elgin, Illinois, one of its most rapidly growing cities, with student enrollment of approximately 11,000. District 509 encompasses 360 square miles, serving 400,000 people, 11,000 businesses with four public school districts and 15 high schools. ECC was selected as one of five Illinois community colleges to participate in the national Achieving the Dream (AtD) initiative, a long-term national initiative that collaborates with community colleges to help more students earn degrees, complete certificates, or transfer to four-year institutions to continue their studies. The park-like setting of 145 acre Main Campus offers instruction spanning nine major buildings with beautiful views. ECC also offers classes throughout the northwest suburbs of Chicago with more than 100 off-campus locations.

 Now in its 68th season, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO’s won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year a record-setting four times – in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016. The ESO strives to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the country. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available.  The festive concert event often features musicians performing in the lobby before shows, and patrons can purchase unique, music-themed gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique.  Pre-concert chats are given by music director Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances.  Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to meet Andrew Grams, guest artists and ESO musicians at Mingle with the Musicians held at area restaurants.  Music historian Jim Kendros offers free Listeners Club discussions the Wednesday before ESO Classics Series concert weekends at Greenfields of Geneva and the Gail Borden Public Library. Flex passes are available for choosing concerts at a later date, and if a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a small fee. The ESO is a world-class orchestra presenting quality musical explorations of some of the greatest music ever written, conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs. The ESO-Transforming the Symphony Experience.