Youth Symphony

Rehearses Sundays between 3 & 6 pm.
The Youth Symphony, founded in 1965, consists of the most experienced musicians in our organization. Students range in age through high school. Its members are drawn from a wide geographical area and enjoy the enrichment and challenge of performing with other serious and dedicated musicians.  The Youth Symphony has a history of presenting exciting repertoire and looks forward to each season of fine performances.

David Commanday, conductor – Maestro Commanday has had wide experience and a history of success with young and pre-professional orchestras. He is currently Artist in Residence and Adjunct Faculty Instructor in Music at Eureka College. He has conducted and taught at Harvard University, Boston University, MIT, the Longy School of Music, the Tanglewood Institute, and Virginia Commonwealth University, working with orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and private cello, bass, and guitar students at these institutions.

Maestro Commanday’s extensive work with young musicians commenced when he was named Music Director of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO). He brought the BYSO to national recognition, earning three ASCAP awards for programming and leading four international tours. Commanday and the BYSO commissioned and performed the world premiere of the Double Concerto by Ivan Tcherepnin, with soloists Lynn Chang and Yo-Yo Ma. The performance earned the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for the composition and its composer.

David Commanday is active in the United States’ music education community as conductor, clinician and adjudicator.

Commanday is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Heartland Festival Orchestra, and was recognized as Illinois Professional Conductor of the Year 2011 by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. His guest engagements with professional orchestra have spanned the globe. Abroad Maestro Commanday has appeared with such orchestras as the Israel Philharmonic, Belgian Radio Orchestra, and Vienna Pro Arte Orchestra. At home he has directed the National Symphony, American Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, and the Seattle, Atlanta, and California Symphonies. He has extensive experience with the ballet, conducting for Joffrey Ballet (New York and Chicago), Ballet West, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Washington Ballet, Peoria Ballet, and Kansas City Ballet.

Concert Orchestra

Rehearses Thursdays from 7 to 9 pm
Begun in 1970 to address the need for further orchestral opportunities in the Central Illinois area, the Central Illinois Concert Orchestra provides a full symphonic experience for intermediate middle and high school players. They perform challenging repertoire , while refining orchestral technique. CICO is designed as a preparatory group for the Youth Symphony as well as being a fine youth orchestra in its own right.

David Getz, conductor – David Getz has been the Orchestra Director of Morton High School since 2012. He received his Bachelors of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2012, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Getz is a pianist and violist, though he also enjoys playing his mandolin, guitar, accordion, and alto recorder on occasion. As a performer, Getz won the Illinois Wesleyan Concert/Aria Competition in 2010, and he performed the piano solo part of Rhapsody in Blue at a concert in 2013. Getz guest conducted the Central Illinois Concert Orchestra in 2015 as well as the District 2 Middle School Festival Orchestra in 2016. Getz is also an avid composer; the Morton High School Orchestra has premiered three of his compositions in the past five years. Getz will be presenting at this year’s ILMEA Convention on the student composition program he started in 2012, “The Composers’ Guild.” In addition to music, Getz loves athletics. He ran Cross Country and Track & Field at Illinois Wesleyan, and he is currently the Assistant Cross Country Coach at MHS. He lives in Morton with his wife, Lauren.

His vision for the CICO is two-fold. He wants the ensemble to be a place where students can develop a taste and love for full orchestral repertoire in a wide variety of music styles. He also wants to encourage passion for music making and creativity through excitement, enthusiasm, and excellence!

Prep Orchestra

Rehearses Thursdays 6:45 to 8 pm
Introduced in 1995, the Central Illinois Preparatory String Orchestra is designed for string players that have at least one year of playing on their instrument but have little or no experience playing in an ensemble. The students will work on note reading and rhythm patterns and develop confidence and listening ability. The level of music will be similar to that of an elementary honor orchestra.

Rosemary Ardner, conductor – Rosemary grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Starting on the piano at age 5, she began studying the violin at age 7. Mrs. Ardner attended Mt. Lebanon High School, which has a nationally recognized fine arts program. She graduated with a degree in music education (with minors in violin performance and music history) from Ball State University in 2006 and with a masters degree in educational leadership (with an emphasis in assessment in the orchestra classroom) from Aurora University in 2012. Since then, Mrs. Ardner has taught orchestra in the Dunlap school district. In addition, Mrs. Ardner performs in the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. She and her husband, along with their puppy, Lucy, live in Peoria.

Percussion Ensemble

Rehearses Sundays
The Central Illinois Percussion Ensemble consists of percussionists from both the Youth Symphony and Concert Orchestra and was formed during the 1997-1998 season. The mission is for students to perform percussion ensemble literature that not only showcases the percussion section and its players, but allows them to enhance their performing abilities.

Peggy Bonner, coach – Peggy Jo Bonner is known in Central Illinois for her exemplary and versatile percussion skills. Currently she teaches percussion at Bradley University where her duties include: private lessons, percussion ensemble and percussion methods class. In addition, she directs the Central Illinois Youth Symphony Percussion Ensemble and maintains a large private studio. Peggy is a long-standing professional musician and is principal percussionist with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra for the past three decades where she has an endowed chair in her name. She also is the principal percussionist with the Knox Galesburg Symphony for the past 30 years. She has performed dutifully with the Peoria Municipal Band, Prairie Wind Ensemble (charter member), Opera Illinois, St. Mary Cathedral Choir/Orchestra, Peoria Players Theatre, Cornstock Theatre, Eastlight Theatre, and countless others when called upon.

Peggy is the first call percussionist when national touring musicals perform at the Peoria Civic Center. She has played professionally for Wicked, Hair Spray, Mary Poppins, and many others.

Peggy graduated from Bradley University and served as band director in Central Illinois, serving Peoria Public Schools. While at Rolling Acres Middle School and Roosevelt Arts Magnet School her concert and marching bands consistently earned top ratings at both district and state levels. In the summers Bonner led the Peoria Park District Summer band program, a traveling award winning program she participated in as a teen under the direction of long-time director/mentor Fred Huber.

Peggy is active as a clinician and adjucicator for area schools.


Youth Music Illinois constantly searches for new opportunities to engage student musicians of all types. If you have an idea for new programs please reach out to the Executive Director.