Founded in 1958, the Chicago Symphony Chorus has achieved a series of milestones, including 10 Grammy Awards for its recordings, and on April 5, it officially celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Since 1985, through the generous support of its members, the League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has endowed a CSO performance featuring choral music. This year, the Chorus was featured in an all-Ravel concert, and the audience was thrilled with its stellar performance of the sensuous and rarely heard Daphnis and Chloe in the second half of the program. This lush and romantic work featured both the Orchestra and Chorus in all its glory. Special appreciation of the melodious flute playing and dynamic choral singing was demonstrated with the audience’s standing ovation and thunderous applause as the last note faded away.
Conductor Matthias Pintscher, who made his CSO debut, and Chorus Director Duain Wolfe, who prepared the chorus, should be commended for presenting this ravishing work in a passionate performance. Chaired by League member Bonnie McGrath, the celebration continued at a reception in the lovely Grainger Ballroom immediately after the concert. The guests were impressed with the refreshments, both sweet and savory.
Wolfe, who has directed the Chorus since 1994 when the founder Margaret Hillis retired, proudly shared letters of congratulation from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chorus America and Maestro Riccardo Muti. Chorus members enthusiastically toasted their historic and widespread acclaim with glasses of champagne.
At this annual event, retiring choral members are always honored. Don Horisberger, a Chorus member for 40 years, as well as an assistant conductor, was honored first. Other singers who were recognized for their many years of service were: Allan Lindsay (33 years), Sue Steele (31 years), Elizabeth Grizzell (30 years), Andrea Amdahl Taylor (20 years), Elizabeth Walker and Mark Eldred (both 16 years).
In the audience was a charter member of the Chorus: scientist Richard H. Snow, who had sung with Margaret Hillis. Back then, singing in the group was done on a volunteer basis. Dr. Snow loved the fact that he was witnessing 60 years of growth, development and renown for the group he knew at birth.
After everyone had raised their glasses to toast the Chicago Symphony Chorus several times, it was time to say goodnight and leave with a permanent spot etched in everyone’s heart for this exceptional ensemble of voices — one of Chicago’s treasures.
TOP: Don Horisberger holds a plaque denoting his 40 years of service to the Chicago Symphony Chorus. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018