Better Makers: Conductor Riccardo Muti Headlines Chicago Symphony Orchestra Ball

Better Makers: Conductor Riccardo Muti Headlines Chicago Symphony Orchestra Ball

With more than 40 years of experience to his name, internationally acclaimed conductor Riccardo Muti has been masterfully leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), one of the greatest orchestras in the world, as its 10th music director since 2010. Earlier this year, it was announced that Muti’s contract as music director has been extended through the 2021/22 season.

So, it was only fitting that Muti, who hails from Naples, Italy, headlined the the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s (CSOA) largest annual fundraiser, the Symphony Ball.

Held by the Women’s Board and the Symphony Ball Committee, the Oct. 6 event raised $1.3 million in support of the artistic excellence of the CSOA.

The evening kicked-off with a CSO concert in Orchestra Hall, led by Muti. The concert encompassed a festive program of music by Johannes Brahms, Giacomo Puccini, Josef Strauss, and Johann Strauss II. Pianist David Fray also performed as a soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24.

A post-concert black tie gala was held at the Palmer House, drawing 525 guests. The evening celebration included cocktails, a reception, a gourmet seated dinner, and dancing.

Longtime Symphony supporters, former CSOA Board Chair and Life Trustee Richard Thomas and his wife, Helen Thomas, were recognized during the program.

Guests danced to the sounds of 17-piece musical ensemble Talk of the Town Big Band to polish off the evening.

The 2018 Ball was chaired by CSOA Women’s Board member Leigh Ann Herman and her husband, Casey Herman, and co-chaired by CSOA Trustee Donna L. Kendall and CSOA Life Trustee David E. McNeel.

The event was made possible thanks to the support of gracious sponsors, notably Northern Trust, the presenting sponsor of the Symphony Ball; Bank of America, the global sponsor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and United Airlines, the official airline of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

chicago symphony orchestra: Riccardo Muti
The centerpiece of Symphony Ball was the evening’s CSO concert in Orchestra Hall, led by Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti.
chicago symphony orchestra: Sheila Jones, Riccardo Muti, Barbara Wright Pryor
Sheila Jones, Director of the CSOA’s African American Network; Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti; and Barbara Wright Pryor.
chicago symphony orchestra: David E. McNeel, Casey Herman, Leigh Ann Herman, Donna L. Kendall, Riccardo Muti, Keiko Alexander, Jeff Alexander
Symphony Ball 2018 Event Co-chairs: CSOA Life Trustee David E. McNeel, Casey and Leigh Ann Herman, and CSOA Trustee Donna L. Kendall join Music Director Riccardo Muti along with Keiko Alexander and CSOA President Jeff Alexander at the festive concert event.
chicago symphony orchestra
The Women’s Board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) and the Symphony Ball Committee hosted Symphony Ball, the CSOA’s largest annual fundraiser, on Oct. 6.


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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.