NORTHWEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

71st Season!


HAPPENINGS AND NEWS

February 19, 2024

The Passing of Paul Vermel
Former Long Time NSO Music Director and Conductor, 1994-2013

Reported by the "Portland Press Herald, 18 February 2024

SCARBOROUGH – Paul Vermel, conductor, orchestra builder, teacher, mentor, husband, father and friend, passed away on Feb. 14, 2024, at the age of 99, just five days before his 100th birthday.

Paul was born in Paris, France on Feb. 19, 1924, the second child of Naoum Vermel and Marguerite Amirian Vermel. His older sister, Marianne, was born in Russia in 1921, and the family escaped to France after the Russian Revolution.

He lived with his family in Paris, with summers in Deauville on the Normandy coast, until the outbreak of World War II. When the Germans invaded France, the family stayed in Deauville for a year. After the fall of Paris, the family moved to the ”free” area of Vichy, until all of France was occupied by the Germans. They then moved back to Paris, where it was easier to hide from the German soldiers. One of his greatest memories was the day that American and French forces, led by General Charles DeGaulle, entered Paris and marched up the Champs Élysées.

Before WWII, he studied conducting, organ, harmony, and theory in his native Paris – studying conducting with André Cluytens and Paul Kletzki, and organ with André Fleury. In 1949, he left France to study at The Juilliard School in New York City, N.Y. as a student of Jean Morel. He served on the Juilliard faculty in both the orchestral and opera departments. He became an American citizen in 1954 and was honored at the White House, at a reception in the Rose Garden, by President Dwight Eisenhower, for his achievements in music.

During his 10 years in New York Paul was music director and conductor of the Hudson Valley Symphony, the Doctor’s Orchestral Society, and the Brooklyn Community Orchestra, and taught at Brooklyn College. For eight years he was music director of the summer opera and musical theater program at Green Mansions in the Berkshires. He made his Broadway debut as assistant conductor of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s Saint of Bleecker Street. While living in New York he was an usher at Carnegie Hall, where he met his first wife, Ann Nelson Vermel, with whom he was married for 13 years. They had one daughter, Valerie, who now lives in Maine.

Leaving New York, Paul Vermel moved to California to become music director and conductor of the Fresno Philharmonic. He also taught at California State University, was music director of the Fresno Youth Orchestra, and conducted opera extensively.

Moving back to the east coast in 1966, he served as director of the Music in Maine Project (a Title III program) and one year later was tapped to lead the Portland Symphony Orchestra. He was Music Director of the PSO from 1967 to 1975, a time of significant musical growth. During his tenure, a series of Family Concerts was begun and the first out-of-town (run-out concerts) were given, starting in Augusta, and eventually including several towns in New Hampshire, and cities throughout Maine, and the PSO received a National Endowment for the Arts grant that supported a tour of the Canadian Provinces. Summer Concerts returned to the orchestra’s schedule, and Youth Concerts were expanded and improved. Paul Vermel also conducted the Portland Community Orchestra, which was supported by the PSO. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Nasson College in 1975. As Music Director of the PSO, he helped to found the Portland String Quartet, whose players – violinists Stephen Kecskemethy and Ronald Lantz, violist Julia Adams, and cellist Paul Ross – he hired as the string principals of the orchestra. One of his greatest pleasures in living in Portland was that he could study scores and prepare rehearsals in the morning, and ski in the afternoon.

For 20 years, beginning in 1974, Paul Vermel was professor of music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and conductor of both the University Symphony and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony. While at University of Illinois, he conducted many operas with Illinois Opera Theatre, and took the University Symphony Orchestra on tour throughout the state. He was a frequent All-State and District Festival conductor. At the University of Illinois he met Carolyn Paulin, a doctoral student in choral music, whom he married in 1978. After Paul’s retirement from the University of Illinois, he and Carolyn lived in the Chicago, Ill. area from 1994 to 2014, where he continued to conduct and teach privately. He served as Music Director of the Northwest Symphony Orchestra from 1994 to 2013, and North Suburban Symphony from 1996 to 2007.

His guest conducting experience included performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Symphony of Washington, D.C., the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony, L’Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, and numerous regional, community and All-State orchestras. An active teacher since his Juilliard days, Paul Vermel headed the orchestral conducting program at the Aspen Music Festival and School for 14 years, and taught at the Conductors Institute at the University of South Carolina for 23 years. Many of his students are achieving success on the podiums of orchestras in the United States and Europe.

Among Paul’s many awards and honors are: the Koussevitsky Memorial Award for the outstanding conductor at the Tanglewood Festival, the American Symphony Orchestra League Recognition Award, a Ford Foundation grant for advanced study and, in conjunction with the national Orchestras-On-Tour Program, the Bell Telephone Award for outstanding achievement in and contribution to the arts. He was honored with the ASCAP Award for adventuresome programming of contemporary music. In January of 2009 he received the Max Rudolf Award from the Conductors Guild, given biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement as a conductor and pedagogue, and significant service to the profession in the realms of scholarship and ensemble building.

Paul Vermel brought to the podium over 60 years of expertise. His final appearance as a conductor was on the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Gala 90th Anniversary Concert, in which all four living conductors led the orchestra. Paul opened the program, conducting Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont – from memory – at the age of 91.

Paul and Carolyn returned to Maine in the summer of 2014, and enjoyed living in Scarborough, going to the Symphony and the Portland Museum of Art, and to many concerts.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Carolyn Paulin; and his daughter, Valerie Taylor, both living at home. Other survivors include his niece, Veronique Meroni and her husband Michel Meroni, of Marseilles, France, and his nephew, Alan Lantz and his wife Sophie, of Paris, France; and several grand nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his mother and father, Marguerite and Naoum Vermel; and his sister and brother-in-law, Marianne and Georges Lantz.

We wish to thank Hospice of Southern Maine for their compassionate care, and for Gosnell Hospice House for making his final days as comfortable as possible. There will be no visitation. A memorial celebration for family and friends will be held in a few weeks.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the:

Portland String
Quartet Society
P.O. Box 11
Portland ME 04112-001
or at http://www.portlandstringquartet.com 

Portland String Quartet


February 11, 2024

NSO Pops Concert, March 17, 2024

The Northwest Symphony Orchestra (NSO) will continue its 2023-2024 season at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, 2024 at the Forest View Educational Center, 2121 South Goebbert Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Join the NSO and Music Director Tim Semanik for an afternoon of fun and excitement as it presents popular works from many of the great American composers: Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, John Williams, Duke Ellington and more!

The concert will explore music from a variety of genres (film, musical theater, and opera) that make up the American musical landscape including West Side Story, Porgy and Bess, Chicago, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many more.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors age 65 or older, $12 for a senior group of 10 or more purchased together, and $10 for students with ID. Children under the age of 14 are admitted free of charge with a ticket, if attending with an adult who has purchased a ticket. Patrons may purchase tickets at the door on the day of the concert, or in advance via EventBrite, at the NSO website, www.northwestsymphony.org, or by phone at the orchestra’s information number: 847-965-7271.

This Concert is presented in partnership with District 214 Community Education. The Northwest Symphony Orchestra acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. For more information, check the NSO website, or call the Orchestra’s information number. We look forward to seeing you at the concert!

Reserve Your Seat Here


January 14, 2024

NSO Winter Concert, February 4, 2024

The Northwest Symphony Orchestra will continue its 2023-20224 season at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 4, 2024 at the Forest View Educational Center, 2121 South Goebbert Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Music Director Tim Semanik will conduct the orchestra in a program that features 2023 the Paul Vermel Young Artist Award Winner, Maurice Neuman, performing Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto. The orchestra will also perform the Symphony No. 1 in C minor work of Johannes Brahms. Since 1995, the Paul Vermel Young Artist Award Winner has been presented annually, through the efforts of Barbara Hedlund from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony. Ms. Hedlund collaborated with the NSO to institute a solo competition for young instrumentalists. Each year a string performer has been named the Paul Vermel Young Artist Award winner. In addition to a cash prize, the winner performs a rare opportunity to perform a solo concerto with the orchestra at a scheduled concert. Recipients of this award have gone on to hold seats in prestigious groups such as the Indianapolis Symphony, the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Sarasota (FL) Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony. Elgar’s Cello Concerto was the last full-scale orchestral work that the composer wrote. It exists between the overall conservative world in which Elgar wrote and the new musical language and world vision of an era profoundly impacted but the First World War. It is seeped with pathos and melancholy as well as absolutely intense beauty. Brahms allowed his First Symphony to be performed in 1876, some twenty years after the genesis of the piece. He was intimidated by the immense shadow of Beethoven and held such a sincere regard for the symphony as a genre that he did not want to do it a disservice. He certainly did nothing of the sort. The work from this first performance was easily recognized as "one of the most distinctive and magnificent works of the symphonic literature” and has retained that stature in the intervening century and a half. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors age 65 or older, $12 for a senior group of 10 or more purchased together, and $10 for students with ID. Children under the age of 14 are admitted free of charge with a ticket, if attending with an adult who has purchased a ticket. Patrons may purchase tickets at the door on the day of the concert, or in advance via EventBrite, at the NSO website, www.northwestsymphony.org, or by phone at the orchestra’s information number: 847-965-7271. This Concert is presented in partnership with District 214 Community Education. The Northwest Symphony Orchestra acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. For more information, check the NSO website, or call the Orchestra’s information number. We look forward to seeing you at the concert!

Reserve Your Seat Here


November 3, 2023

Messiah Sing-Along, December 3, 2023

Our annual Messiah Sing-Along Concert will bring beautiful holiday music to the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Join members of the Northwest Symphony Orchestra of Arlington Heights in its glorious playing of Part 1 Messiah and concluding Hallelujah Chorus, in the beautiful cathedral sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights. During the concert directed by NSO Music Director and Conductor Timothy Semanik, you will hear soloists Megan Hendrickson/soprano, Kristen Walter/alto, Nick Pulikowski/tenor, Adam Hendrickson/baritone, and Dan Richardson/bass perform, coupled with chorus interludes for audience participation. Singers and non-singers alike will be sure to enjoy the soaring sounds of the holiday surrounding them in this quaint and picturesque setting. Bring your own musical score or utilize one of the vocal scores available on-site. This concert will run approximately 65 minutes with no intermission. There is ample free parking at and around the church. This is a free event, and no tickets are required for entry; a free will offering will be accepted during the concert to help the Northwest Symphony Orchestra and First Presbyterian Church organizations to continue their missions of bringing music and joy to the local community. To find out more about the orchestra, refer to the Northwest Symphony Orchestra’s new website, www.northwestsymphony.org, or interested individuals may contact the orchestra’s information number: 847-965-7271. To find out more about the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights, or for information about the 2023-2024 Free Concert Series calendar of events, one may refer to the website at www.firstpresah.org, email to mail@firstpresah.org, or call 847-255-5900. We hope that you will join us to begin the holiday season!

Join us December 3rd at 4pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights, 302 N. Dunton Ave., Arlington heights, IL 60004, for our annual Messiah Sing-A-Along. Tickets are complimentary and can be reserved by on line at: 

Reserve Your Seat Here


September 12, 2023

NSO Season Opener Fall Concert "Eroica", October 22, 2023

Join the Northwest Symphony Orchestra (NSO) to start its 71st Anniversary season, with exciting works from Beethoven, Rossini and Dvorak!

Reserve Your Seat Here


September 26, 2023

NSO Portillo's Fundraiser, October 24, 2023

Suport the NSO by eating delicious food at the Portillo's located at 806 W. Dundee Rd., in Arlington Heights, IL on October 24th, 2023 from 5-8pm in the evening.  20% of sales will benefit the NSO.  Order online or in app for pickup using code PORTILLOS9 before checkout in the "Apply Offer" field, or show this flyer or a digital version to cashier when ordering at the restaurant. Valid on drive thru, pickup, and in restaurant orders. 


July 6, 2023

Join us for our 2023-24 Season

CONCERT #1 – Eroica, October 22, 2023 at 3:00 pm
Rossini: Overture to William Tell
Dvorak: Othello Overture
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3
CONCERT #2 – Messiah Sing-Along, December 3, 2023 at 4:00 pm
CONCERT #3 – Paul Vermiell Young Artist Award Winner, February 4, 2024, at 3:00 pm
Elgar: Cello Concert with Cello Soloist Maurice Neuman
Brahms: Symphony No. 1
CONCERT #4 – American Pops, March 17, 2024 at 3:00 pm
Gershwin/Bennett: Porgy and Bess
Bernstein/Mason: West Side Story
Copland: Hoedown from Rodeo
Morton Gould: Amber Waves
John Williams: Raiders March
Horner: Music from Apollo 13
Ellington/Custer: Duke Ellington
CONCERT #5 – Cześć ci Polsko! Music of Poland, April 28, 2024 at 3:00 pm
Moniuszko: Bajka (Fairy Tale Overture)
Lutosławski: Silesian Triptych with Soprano
Ewa-Kowcz-Fair Wieniawski: Legend with Violin Soloist Marley Haller
Bacewicz: Symphony No. 3


April 6, 2023

NSO Season Closing Concert, May 7, 2023

Join the Northwest Symphony Orchestra for our Enigma Variations and Young Artist Concert on Sunday, May 7th, at 3:00pm.


March 9, 2023

NSO Spring Concert, April 1, 2023

Join the Northwest Symphony Orchestra for our Spring Concert on Saturday, April 1st at 7:30pm!


January 23, 2023

NSO Winter Concert, February 12, 2023

Join the Northwest Symphony Orchestra for our Winter Concert on Sunday, February 12th at 3:00pm!


January 23, 2023

The NSO YouTube Channel

We have a YouTube Channel! Enjoy NSO past concerts by watching them on our new NSO YouTube Channel. Our October 22nd concert has been posted.


September 19, 2022

NSO Season Opener Concert, October 22, 2022

Join the Northwest Symphony Orchestra for our Season Opening Concert on Saturday, October 22th at 7:30pm!


April 27, 2022

NSO Season Finale Concert, May 15th, 2022

The NSO will present its 2021-22 Season Finale on Sunday, May 15th at 3:00pm. You may purchase tickets at the door or online using the following link: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5431021.

Masks and proof of vaccination are required upon entry. Please contact NSOchicago@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.


March 25, 2022

Join the NSO for our spring concert on Sunday, April 3rd at 3:00pm.

You may purchase tickets at the door or online using the following link: https://www. brownpapertickets.com/event/5363633. Masks and proof of vaccination are required upon entry. Please contact NSOchicago@gmail.com with any questions or concerns!


January 31, 2022

Join the Northwest Symphony Orchestra for their Winter Concert on Sunday, February 13th at 3:00pm!

Masks and proof of vaccination are required upon entry.


May 13, 2021

Our 2021-2022 Season

All concerts take place at 3:00pm at the Forest View Educational Center located at 2121 S. Goebbert Road in Arlington Heights.

Sunday, October 17th: “Loss, Laughter, Life”
George Walker: Lyric for Strings
Darius Milhaud: Le Boeuf sur le Toit
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

Sunday, February 13th: “2021 Paul Vermel Young Artist Award Winner”
Jean Sibelius: Valse Triste
W.A Mozart: Clarinet Concerto. Louis Auxenfans, clarinet
Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 3

Sunday, April 3rd: “Natural Wonder”
Felix Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture
Chris Rogerson: Oaken Sky
Bedřich Smetana: “The Moldau”
Florence Price: Mississippi River Suite

Sunday, May 15 Concert – “2021 Paul Vermel Young Artist Award Winner”
Max Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1
Bianca Ciubancan, violin
Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 8


December 13, 2020

Noel Noel at Home

Join NSO’s Music Director Tim Semanik as he makes his debut with the San Diego Symphony! Register at the link in the Facebook event below to reserve a spot for this virtual (and free) holiday concert this Friday, December 18th🎄🎶 https://fb.me/e/RyGvlOHp


November 18, 2020

October 2020 Virtual Concert Announcement

The Northwest Symphony presented its first virtual concert this fall. You can view the concert under our “Past Performances” tab on this website, or on our YouTube channel.

We hope you will consider making a contribution to the orchestra so we may continue to create more virtual performances. This can be done under the “Donate” tab on the website as well.

Thank you for your continuous support. Please stay safe and healthy.


September 19, 2020

Our 2020-21 Season

The Northwest Symphony Orchestra board and musicians look forward to the time when we can safely resume live performances. This fall, we are in the process of preparing virtual offerings and our hope is to present concerts in person in 2021. We have an exciting new season planned and look forward to once again presenting great music to the community:

Sunday, February 14th at 3:00pm – Lift Every Voice: A Concert of African-American Composers

Sunday, April 18th at 3:00pm – Paul Vermel Young Artist Competition Winner & Dvorak 8

Sunday, May 16th at 3:00pm – Natural Wonder: Rogerson – Oaken Sky & Beethoven 6

Please return to the website for details about our virtual performances and updates regarding live concerts


April 27, 2020

Remainder of 2019-20 Season Cancelled

In response to the CDC and their recommendations to combat the spread of COVID-19 virus, all remaining concerts for the 2019-20 season have been cancelled. We regret that we will be unable to present these performances, but the safety of our audience, musicians, staff, and community is of the upmost importance.

To obtain a refund or donate the price of tickets purchased to the orchestra, please email us at nsochicago@gmail.com or call (847)-965-7271.

Please check back for the latest information regarding our 2020-21 season. We truly miss our audiences and hope to be able to present concerts again very soon.


March 16, 2020

April 18th Concert Announcement

In response to the CDC and their recommendations for the spread of COVID-19, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra has decided to postpone the “Natural Wonder” concert that was scheduled for Saturday, April 18th. That concert will tentatively take place on Sunday, May 17th in place of the originally scheduled “Opera in the Afternoon” concert. We are hoping to reschedule the “Opera in the Afternoon” concert for a later date in June.

If you already have tickets purchased for the April 18th concert, they will honored at the May 17th performance or can be used for a future concert this season. If you would like to get a refund or wish to donate the price of the ticket to the orchestra, please email us at NSOchicago@gmail.com or call (847)-965-7271.


August 15, 2019

RSVP To Our Next Concert!

Join the Northwest Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, February 16th at 3PM in a celebration of Romantic music and phenomenal talent. This performance will feature the music of Jean Sibelius, as well as the Paul Vermel Young Artist Winner, Claire Metcalf, performing the Khatchaturian Violin Concerto. Celebrate love with an afternoon of music, community, and extraordinary talent. Tickets will be available at the door!


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