Symphony Ball, the largest annual fund-raising event of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, generated $1.4 million and drew more than 500 guests to a gala celebration Sept. 22. Anchored by a concert featuring Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti, guest violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in works by Rossini, Mozart and Tchaikovsky, and hosted by the Women’s Board of the CSOA and the Symphony Ball Committee, the event launched the CSO’s 127th season.

Co-chaired by Women’s Board member Sandy Rusnak and CSOA Trustee Earl J. Rusnak Jr., the gala was held at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Anne-Sophie Mutter performs Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with the CSO under Riccardo Muti at the Symphony Ball concert. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

Before the concert, patrons walked on a red-carpet runway outside Orchestra Hall and were serenaded by a brass quintet of musicians from the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. At a pre-concert reception, guests enjoyed champagne, wine and hors d’oeuvres from stations throughout Symphony Center, including Grainger Ballroom, along the arcade and in the rotunda. A wind ensemble of Civic Orchestra musicians also performed during the pre-concert reception.

CSOA President Jeff Alexander and members of the Women’s Board, including board president Elizabeth Adams, greeted VIP guests as they arrived for the Symphony Ball. Among the special guests and dignitaries were Armando Varricchio, Italy’s ambassador to the United States, and Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Italy’s consul general in Chicago, as well as internationally celebrated American choreographer John Neumeier on the eve of his new production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The concert began with Muti leading the CSO in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a tradition at the CSO’s first concert of the new season. This was followed by Rossini’s Overture to William Tell. Then Mutter, who in 2017 is celebrating her 40th anniversary of her debut as an orchestral soloist, took the stage for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (Turkish). The piece derives its nickname from a lively rondo finale that evokes the sound of Middle Eastern music popular at the time of the work’s creation in 1775. The program closed with Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Sleeping Beauty, which the composer considered one of his best works. Often described as a “dancing symphony,” it was inspired by the classic fairy-tale about a princess who pricks her finger and falls under a spell, only to be awakened a hundred years later by a handsome prince.

Immediately after the concert, patrons were transported by trolleys to the Four Seasons Hotel for a black-tie celebration of dinner and dancing. The New York-based group Da Fellas supplied the music for the dance floor.

Symphony Ball patrons enjoy dinner at the Four Seasons. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

Corporations, other organizations and individuals participated as sponsors or purchased tables for the evening. The Symphony Ball 2017 concert was generously sponsored by the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Fund for the Canon.

The Women’s Board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association thanks the following donors for their invaluable support of Symphony Ball:





MAESTRO SPONSORS: Abbott | ITW | Kirkland & Ellis LLP | Sidley Austin LLP

CONCERTMASTER SPONSORS: Allstate | BMO Harris Bank | Jenner & Block LLP | Mayer Brown

VIRTUOSO SPONSORS: CIBC | DLA Piper | McKinsey & Company | Morgan Stanley |PNC Bank | Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP | William Blair | Winston & Strawn LLP

MEDIA SPONSORS: WBBM | Chicago Magazine

Find out more about the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s Women’s Board here.

TOP: Patrons headed for the Symphony Ball concert and gala stroll down the red carpet outside Orchestra Hall. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017