For some people, music forms a powerful thread that can be traced through an entire lifetime; Dinah Jacobs is a prime example. She’s part of a family of dedicated amateur musicians; her mother played percussion and her father was an oboist and conductor who founded a community orchestra, which is still active today. With the help of her parents, she learned to read music and play the piano before she could read and write.

Later, Mrs. Jacobs attended a music school in Cleveland and followed in her father’s footsteps by taking up the oboe, though her career ultimately followed a different path. In addition to serving as Corporate Director of Customer Affairs for 17 of her 25 years at Citibank/Citicorp, she also worked closely for more than 30 years with her late husband, Donald P. Jacobs, dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Throughout her busy career, music has remained a constant for Mrs. Jacobs, who continues to take piano lessons. “Music is not a hobby. It’s who I am,” she explains. “Now I’m in a position to give back.” To this end, Mrs. Jacobs recently made a gift to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association in support of the Principal Percussion Chair of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “We have an amazing city with amazing resources, and we must create the next generations of concertgoers,” she says. “I want to help build a stronger CSO for now and for the future.”

Cynthia Yeh holds the newly sponsored Dinah Jacobs (Mrs. Donald P. Jacobs) Principal Percussion Chair. Yeh joined the CSO as principal percussionist in June 2007, following her three-year tenure as principal percussionist for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. She is also an active soloist and performs regularly with the CSO’s MusicNOW ensemble and various chamber ensembles throughout Chicago. Yeh currently serves on the faculty of DePaul University and the Aspen Music Festival.

As the daughter of a percussionist, Mrs. Jacobs speaks enthusiastically about her admiration for Yeh: “For me, it’s all about Cynthia [Yeh]. She’s the one I want to showcase, support and applaud.” Together, Ms. Yeh and Mrs. Jacobs have chosen to honor the memory of their mothers, Tammy Li-Ying Yeh and Beatrice Gilman, with the sponsored chair. Mrs. Jacobs explains, “We so rarely say thank you, but without our moms, we wouldn’t be who we are. I am thrilled to honor my mom, and the fact that we can also honor Cynthia’s mom — I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.”

“I am honored to hold The Dinah Jacobs [Mrs. Donald P. Jacobs] Principal Percussion Chair in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” Yeh says. “Since joining the CSO as principal percussionist in 2007, it has been exhilarating to connect, through music, with audiences from all walks of life, in communities across Chicago and around the world. It means a great deal to me to have my chair sponsored by someone who shares my love and passion for percussion. Through her generous sponsorship of an orchestra chair, Mrs. Jacobs is part of this CSO family and ensures that the CSO will thrive for generations to come.”

TOP: Cynthia Yeh, principal percussion, and Dinah Jacobs, who has sponsored the CSO’s principal percussion chair. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography