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Elgin OPERA director, founder resigns

Solange Sior and Teppei Kono perform in "L'Elisir d’Amore” at the Hemmens Cultural Center. (Provided by Elgin OPERA)

Solange Sior and Teppei Kono perform in "L'Elisir d’Amore” at the Hemmens Cultural Center. (Provided by Elgin OPERA)

Solange Sior plans to leave Elgin OPERA, which she started a decade ago, in order to focus on her own solo career and teaching. (Provided by Solange Sior)

When Solange Sior created Elgin OPERA a decade ago, she saw it as an outlet for her love of singing.

But as the group continued to grow and the economy tightened, she found herself spending more time behind a desk than behind a microphone.

The soprano now plans to return her focus to her music. Sior recently announced she has resigned her post as artistic director and de facto executive director to pursue a solo career and expand her teaching.

“It’s a change for good,” she said. “I’m still there whenever they have questions. I will be singing with them, but I need to be liberated from all the office work.”

The group’s board of directors plans to handle day-to-day business with the help of administrator Mary Lou Baldwin and members of the training and performance ensemble until it selects a replacement for Sior.

Craig Dresang, president of the board, called Sior a visionary and said she will be missed.

“She’s a huge talent. She’s been a gift to the community,” Dresang said. “What she did in helping to establish and found this, not just for Elgin, but really for the Fox Valley, has been a huge gift and we have a really great foundation to build on now for the future.”

Sior, who studied piano at Montreal’s Vincent-d’Indy music school and vocal performance at the University of Montreal, also trained through a program at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

In 2001, she started Elgin OPERA as Opera Professional Entertainers Repertoire Association and four years later, the group began fully staged opera productions.

The group was run out of Sior’s home until 2008 when it moved to the campus of Elgin Academy. The same year, it staged “L’Elisir d’Amore” with the 50-piece New Millennium Orchestra and in 2009, it started a summer music festival. For its 10th anniversary, the group staged a Hollywood-themed gala at the Hemmens Cultural Center and also celebrated winning an Elgin Image Award.

Sior said she is proud of the singers she has helped in her 10 years with the group as well as her own growth as a singer. She plans to continue teaching piano and voice in Elgin and make time to go on auditions of her own.

She said she believes Elgin OPERA will continue to be successful, especially with the recent addition of board members skilled in grant writing and fundraising.

“Elgin has been a very good town for me,” she said. “We’ve had lots of support. It’s been a very positive experience and I believe the company will continue to (have that support).”

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