ICO Conductor Mentoring

This program is intended to provide conductors with the opportunity to consult with experienced colleagues who will serve as a confidential resource for advice and guidance concerning the craft of conducting, and career-related issues. Our roster of participating mentors is comprised of veteran conductors who have a wealth of experience, on and off the podium. They are active performers and educators who possess a wide range of musical and professional expertise. 

Mentoring topics include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • conductor training
  • musical concerns in a particular score
  • general career development (professional and academic)
  • psychology of conducting
  • issues with boards of directors or management
  • repertoire and programming
  • preparing for an audition or interview
  • rehearsing effectively
  • general questions about being a music director


Prospective mentees should contact Jim Setapen, Conductors Mentoring Committee Chair via email at jsetapen@gmail.com  or by calling 773-857-1268. Mentees must: (1) be a current individual ICO member, OR (2) the ensemble they are affiliated with must have a current organizational membership in the ICO.

Participating conductors include:

Allan Dennis, Music Director, Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra; Founder and Executive Director, Midwest Young Artists.

Lawrence Eckerling, Music Director Evanston Symphony Orchestra

Alan Heatherington, Founder and Music Director of the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra; Music Director of the Chicago Master Singers 

Steve Larsen, former Music Director, Opera Theater of San Antonio; former Principal Conductor, Chicago Opera Theater; Music Director, Rockford Symphony Orchestra; Music Director, Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra.

Michael Luxner, Associate Conductor, Savannah Symphony (professional, core and per service), 1982-86; Music Director/Conductor, Owensboro Symphony (per-service professional), 1986-97; Professor of Music, Millikin University (Director of Orchestral Activities), Music Director/Conductor, Millikin-Decatur Symphony (per-service professional/student), 1996-present.

Donald Schleicher, Professor of Conducting and Music Director, University of Illinois Orchestral program in Urbana-Champaign; former Music Director and Conductor, Quad City Symphony Orchestra; former Music Director and Principal Opera Conductor, Pine Mountain Music Festival.  

James Setapen, formerly Associate Conductor, Denver Symphony; Music Director, Amarillo Symphony ; Conductor-in-Residence and Director of the Academy, Music Institute of Chicago.

Stephen Squires, Principal Conductor and Professor of Conducting in the Music Conservatory at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University

Allen Tinkham, Music Director of Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

Paul Vermel, Teacher at Conductors Institute University of South Carolina

Victor Yampolsky, Carol F. and Arthur L. Rice Jr. University Professor in Music Performance at the Northwestern University School of Music; Music Director of the Peninsula Music Festival; Music Director Emeritus of the Omaha Symphony; Honorary Director of the Scotia Festival of Music