The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has several volunteer groups, each of which in its own unique ways advances the mission of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Now in its ninth season, the Overture Council focuses on developing the CSO’s young professional audience. Loyal supporters of the CSO are not limited in how many volunteer groups they can join; here are snapshots of three individuals who have been involved in the Overture Council and one of the other groups as well.
Eric Kalnins attended his first Symphony Ball in 2002, joined by Melanie, a fellow member of his newly formed rock band. The date went well. Two years later, they married. Melanie now works for the CSO as director of marketing and business analysis. Each of their three kids play both the piano and trumpet. To Eric, music is truly the stuff of life.
Like many fans of the CSO, Eric sees every performance as more than just an event — it should be an experience. That’s why, after years as a member of the Overture Council and as a Governing Member, he’s taken the leap to serve as chair of the GM Member Engagement Committee. His goal is not to just expand the reach of the orchestra to more music fans, but to encourage meaningful connections among patrons that impact their lives beyond the concert. Simple opportunities, such as grabbing a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with fellow GMs during intermission, or meeting their favorite musicians after the concert can begin to build a sense of community. He wants to do even more of those things this season.
“I can only hope that our work can somehow indirectly extend beyond even the CSO,” said Eric, “and cause concertgoers everywhere to mentor their own sons, daughters and friends concerning the importance and benefits associated with classical music.”
Jen Luby was a charter member of the Overture Council, and has “great memories of those early days,” she recalled. “Everything was fresh and exciting, and the rest of the CSOA family made us feel so welcome.” Jen is now involved with the Women’s Board, the group that organizes the annual Symphony Ball, among other fund-raising projects and events. One such event is REMIX, and last year, Jen served as co-chair of the REMIX committee. It was a “really lovely experience,” she said.
The Women’s Board is “such an inspiring group of motivated women, with wonderful energy,” she said, and has similar feelings about the Overture Council: “It’s a vibrant group with so much passion for the Orchestra and for music in general.”
When Amy Bergseth joined the Overture Council, she remembers feeling “immediately welcomed as a part of the CSO family.” That same welcoming atmosphere was to be found when she started attending events hosted by the League of the CSOA.
“I had already attended League events to which the Overture Council was invited, so I had met some League members and was familiar with the group,” she said. ” The collaboration between the groups of the CSOA is important and helpful, and one of my favorite parts of being involved in the education seminars is seeing OC friends attending them! I want to help them feel that joining the League one day will be a natural next step, like it was for me.”
David Knaus is a communications consultant and two-year member of the Overture Council. Eric Rubio is a non-profit manager and five-year member of the Overture Council.
TOP: Members of the CSO development department and representatives of CSO volunteer groups and boards gather ahead of a CSO concert at Millennium Park. | Photo: Mimi Duginger