Daniel Gingrich, longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn section, has received a surprise tribute — from none other than Music Director Riccardo Muti.

At the CSO concert Nov. 9, Muti awarded Gingrich the title of “honorary principal horn for life,” in recognition for his six years of service as acting principal horn, from July 2013 to July 2019, when David Cooper, previously of the Dallas Symphony, assumed the first-chair post.

A native of Stickney, Ill., Gingrich joined the CSO in 1975, after stints with the Rochester (N.Y.) Philharmonic National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C. From 1969 to 1972, he was a member of the Chicago Youth Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago while studying with the CSO’s Richard Oldberg. He also attended Roosevelt University’s Chicago Musical College (now Chicago College of Performing Arts). In 2002, he was appointed as associate principal horn; most recently, at Muti’s request, Gingrich served as the CSO’s acting principal horn from 2013 until 2019.

The ceremony was a complete surprise. After receiving the framed document, Gingrich told the audience that the past 10 years under Muti “have been the best of his life.”

TOP: Daniel Gingrich receives a framed certificate, bestowing upon him the title of honorary principal horn for life, from Riccardo Muti. | Photo: Elliot Mandel