Alan Heatherington has built his career in the Chicago Metropolitan area as a choral and orchestral conductor, a violinist/ concertmaster, and an educator. So distinguished are his accomplishments that the Chicago Tribune named him a Chicagoan of the Year in 2004. The Illinois Council of Orchestras has awarded him the title of Conductor of the Year for 2005 and again in 2012. In 2010 he received the Cultural Leadership Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, for “sustained leadership, extending beyond his own organizations and community, that has profoundly impacted the state of the arts in Illinois.”
Maestro Heatherington is the founder and Music Director of the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra (1995–present). Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein, reporting on recent Ars Viva concerts, called Heatherington a “visionary director” of “finely disciplined energy and commitment” who “knows precisely what he wants and has the leadership skills to bring his musical ideas alive through a solid ensemble that includes numerous Chicago Symphony players in key positions.” Under his leadership, Ars Viva has twice been awarded Illinois “Orchestra of the Year” by the Illinois Council of Orchestras (2003 and 2008).
Heatherington has been Music Director of the Chicago Master Singers (CMS) since 1989. This 120-voice auditioned chorus performs major choral works as well as a cappella repertoire often accompanied by the Ars Viva Orchestra. CMS has issued four CDs: Masters in this Hall; Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs; The Wearin’ of the Green (English and Irish folk songs) and A Christmas Collection. In the summer of 2012 the Chicago Master Singers gave a concert tour of the Baltics and St. Petersburg, their tenth European tour under Maestro Heatherington.
He was Music Director of the Lake Forest Symphony, the only fully-professional orchestra in Lake County from 2000 to 2013. Heatherington was the founding Music Director of the Chicago String Ensemble (1979–1995), which may be heard in the highly acclaimed Centaur CD, Israeli Melodies. He was the founding Artistic Director and conductor of the annual Innsbruck International Choral Festival for four years, co-conducting the festival with Alice Parker and Weston Noble. He will conduct at the Salzburg Mozart Festival in the summer of 2014.
He was the Director of Music Ministries at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest (1995–2003) as well as Director of the Anshe Emet Synagogue professional choir (1992–-2000) that can be heard on a collection of compact discs of Jewish High Holy Days music with Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi.
He has conducted or played with virtually all the major orchestras in Chicago for over four decades, taught at various colleges and universities for more than twenty years, and has conducted concerts in many of the major cultural capitals of Europe, including London, Paris, Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Lucerne, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Ekaterinburg. In 2007 he made his European opera debut conducting Rossini's Barber of Seville at the Krakow Opera.
He continues his commitment to education through regular engagements as guest conductor/clinician with area university and community orchestras. He and his wife Gayle, a vocalist who works professionally in arts management and graphic design, live in Libertyville.