Since 1963, the League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has celebrated the CSO’s much-cherished musicians. Last month was no exception as the League presented the 55th Annual CSO Musicians’ Luncheon on May 18.

Mihaela Ionescu, a 30-year honoree. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography

The event is traditionally the highlight of the League’s season. Before the luncheon, guests attended a reception in the Eighth-Floor Club of Symphony Center. Sipping on wine, people mingled and delighted in one another’s company.

Symphony Center’s Grainger Ballroom was festively decorated with lavender tablecloths and spring-themed lavender and green centerpieces for the luncheon. A delicious chicken lunch was enhanced by spinach and strawberry salad, wine and tasty desserts. At the tables, conversations were energetic as 187 attendees — which included 44 League hosts, 34 musicians and other guests — shared stories, renewed relationships and made new friends.

Alison Dalton, a 30-year honoree. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography

Mimi Duginger, president of the League, provided a warm and enthusiastic welcome that recognized the fine work of the luncheon’s co-chairs, Bobbie Huskey and Angie Youngman, and the annual luncheon committee. They were recognized for their exceptional leadership of a large and active committee, which spanned many months and resulted in this festive and joyful gathering. Committee members, staff and donors were recognized for their accomplishments and contributions. When Duginger asked, “Can you feel the love?” everyone cheered. Jeff Alexander, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, and Stephen Lester, chairman of the Orchestra Members’ Committee, thanked the League, welcomed everyone and noted the importance of relationships.

The event’s highlight was the recognition of 30-year honorees Alison Dalton and Mihaela Ionescu, members of the CSO’s violin section. These two talented violinists took us on their personal journeys that led them to long and productive relationships with many conductors and musical colleagues. To the delight of League members, they thanked us for continuing this gracious tradition of honoring CSO musicians and the League’s diligence in bringing the gift of music to children in the Chicago area. The newest CSO musician, second flute Emma Gerstein, also was warmly welcomed.

The much-anticipated raffle event resulted in 41 cash gift cards awarded to musicians, and with each drawing, applause filled the ballroom. Most of the gift cards were donated by the League members themselves. A surprise raffle prize was the presentation to the musicians of the beautiful centerpieces at each table. As the luncheon ended, people found time to thank one another for their deep commitment to this event, which is indeed one of the key centerpieces of the League’s activities. We look forward to continuing the tradition next year at the 56th Annual Musicians’ Luncheon.

TOP: Mimi Duginger, president of the League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestral Association, addresses the audience at the 55th Annual Musicians’ Luncheon. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018