Personal Giving Stories

Meet Our Donors

Featured Donor: Elaine Rosen
Elaine has also made a planned gift to the CSO through a provision in her will. She comes from a family that always valued and enjoyed classical music and, over the years, appreciated the opportunity to interact closely with some members of the CSO.
Ellen and Paul Gignilliat
If you were to overhear Ellen and Paul Gignilliat speaking about the CSO, you could easily assume they were reminiscing about experiences with their family members and closest friends.
Josef Faerber
For Josef Faerber, the CSO came first, and he believed that it was indeed the best in the world. His estate gift helps keep that vision very much alive.
Mrs. Marie Burnside
Mrs. Marie Burnside, pictured here in Grainger Ballroom, first attended the CSO with her mother and fondly recalls Frederick Stock's enthusiasm for music during the Children's Concerts.
Nancy and John Rutledge
"The arts are so important," says John. "Giving back is essential. Not everyone has millions and millions of dollars but almost everyone has something to give."
Robert and Leah Hamman
"When it was time for us to consider investing in the future of the CSO, we had pretty high goals for our planned giving: provide for a sizeable donation, earn a good rate of interest, reduce capital gains taxes and enjoy the benefits of tax deductions."

How to give


For more information about making a planned gift to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or becoming a member of the Theodore Thomas Society, please contact:

Al Andreychuk
Director of Planned Giving

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
220 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60604

312-294-3150 or .

Featured Donor: Elaine Rosen
Elaine Rosen

Elaine Rosen would be hard pressed to request special attention as a patron of the CSO. And yet, to those who know Elaine, her involvement with the CSO is both extensive and impressive. A subscriber since the beginning of the Solti-Guilini era at Orchestra Hall in 1976, she has also been a steady volunteer. A member of The Women's Association, she dates her Symphonython experience back to the very first one, and has been actively involved with many educational and community projects. Elaine views volunteering as a natural extension of her enjoyment of the Orchestra. "There is so much work to be done to make that wonderful music possible and it is so enjoyable to work with other volunteers."

Elaine has also made a planned gift to the CSO through a provision in her will. She comes from a family that always valued and enjoyed classical music and, over the years, appreciated the opportunity to interact closely with some members of the CSO. Having concluded a productive and satisfying career teaching biology in the City Colleges of Chicago, Elaine views a gift to the CSO as a sound investment in its future, a gift that will always be productive. "Many people, like me, are surprised to find that through hard work and good financial management they are in a position, in their retirement years, to provide important support to the charities they love. I want to make sure that my gift has an impact." She favors the CSO in her estate plan because she values its great performances, the informative nature of its programs, its commitment to music education for all Chicago, the dedication of its staff, and the fun of social gatherings at Symphony Center which bring together members of the Theodore Thomas Society. "Quite simply, I enjoy feeling very much a part of the CSO family," observes Elaine.

Ellen and Paul Gignilliat
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If you were to overhear Ellen and Paul Gignilliat speaking about the CSO, you could easily assume they were reminiscing about experiences with their family members and closest friends. They often refer to the CSO as "family," which is hardly surprising given that the CSO has been a part of their lives since they began attending concerts together while dating in 1955. Almost 50 years later, Ellen and Paul are among the more active patrons. Ellen serves as a Governing Member and Paul has been a CSO Trustee since 1987 and a Life Trustee since 1999. Ellen and Paul believe that Planned Giving should be a priority at any institution that depends on donations for its livelihood, and they are delighted that the CSO has such an extensive planned giving program.

"I think that planned giving is extremely important, as it will be the life-spring for a lot of organizations. Feeling this way, Ellen and I decided to include the CSO in our estate plan." This is in addition to the support they provide as contributors to the CSO Annual Fund. Ellen added, "Anything that helps to perpetuate the institution is vital to its future."

One of their fondest memories of the CSO was the Patrons' Tour to Russia in 1990. They chaired this historic tour, which exemplified the family feeling that CSO patrons find when traveling together overseas. Ellen remarked, "I felt this tour was a coming together of our CSO family." They enjoyed bonding with the other patrons, many of whom have become close friends.

Back at Symphony Center, Ellen and Paul are pleased to see so many new faces, especially among the Theodore Thomas Society membership. Their presence is testimony of the long range support of the CSO and they are an important part of its legacy. Paul commented, "the CSO family has grown, which is wonderful. The CSO must continue to nurture broader participation."

Ellen and Paul also enjoy bringing their grandsons Paul and Phillip to Symphony Center. "They have such a great time. We love sharing the CSO with them and we hope it will play an important role in their lives, too."

Finally while they delight in many aspects of the CSO experience, like many others Ellen and Paul are drawn to the Orchestra first and foremost because they love music. Ellen observed, "I just love the fact that I'm involved with one of the best orchestras in the world."

Josef Faerber
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For Josef Faerber, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra came first, and he believed, in a quiet and dignified way, that it was indeed the best in the world. His estate gift helps keep that vision very much alive.

Generally considered the last in a long line of native Germans to play with the CSO, Josef Faerber joined the CSO in 1939, when Frederick Stock was still music director, and retired in 1986. During this remarkable career, interrupted by three years of grueling military service in the Pacific, Mr. Faerber served as assistant concertmaster, as principal second violin, and as member of the first violin section. He also taught at the American Conservatory of Music and coached members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He passed away in September, 1999. In the months preceding his passing, Mr. Faerber revised his estate plan to provide that the CSO receive the gift of his collection of fine instruments, most notable of which is a rare Guadagnini violin from 1776.

For a musician who gave so much of himself in performance for the glory of classical music and the renown of the CSO, his estate gift anticipates the Orchestra’s future needs. As newer members of the CSO find prohibitive the cost of fine instruments, the CSO must become a repository of such instruments for those members to use.

Says David Taylor, CSO assistant concertmaster and current trustee of the Faerber Guadagnini, “Joseph Faerber’s Guadagnini is bright and broad with a good deal of power — perfect for the acoustics in Orchestra Hall. His gift of this highly valued instrument is an ideal situation for the CSO, where its beauty can be appreciated by musicians and audiences far into the future.”

A gift of tangible personal property allows a full fair market value charitable deduction if the property has “related use” to the Orchestra, such as the instrument donated by Josef Faerber.

Mrs. Marie Burnside
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"I have been so fortunate in my life to have found three great passions  my church, the Northwestern University Settlement House and CSO. I think it is simply wonderful how the CSO has become more diverse in its selection of music and fascinating guest artists. When I received a portion of my grandfather's trust fund, I wanted to do something that would ensure the CSO's continued success in its musical vision. So I decided on a charitable remainder trust, an uncomplicated way of transferring the trust's stock funds to the CSO and avoiding capital gain taxes."

Mrs. Marie Burnside, pictured here in Grainger Ballroom, first attended the CSO with her mother and fondly recalls Frederick Stock's enthusiasm for music during the Children's Concerts. Her grandfather, Ernst Heldmaier, was a German immigrant who didn't attend CSO concerts himself, but bought tickets for his children and grandchildren to enjoy the music. A longtime CSO supporter, she has honored the memory of both her parents and grandfather with gifts to Symphony Center.

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is the financial vehicle Mrs. Burnside chose to support the CSO's ongoing artistic mission. A CRT provides a donor with income for life or for a set period of time. After the CRT ends, the principal or a specified amount (the remainder) goes to the CSO and the estate avoids paying capital gains taxes. A CRT funded with appreciated stock can receive charitable income tax deductions for up to five years. This is a smart way to provide for the CSO and avoid the financial costs of asset transfers.

Nancy and John Rutledge
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"We live in Wheaton, but I like to think we're citizens of the Chicago community," says John Rutledge, referring to himself and his wife Nancy. The world community would be a more apt description. In addition to John's career as a real estate consultant, he is a consultant for the Urban Institute's Local Government Reform Project, a Washington D.C.-based program that helps democratize former socialist governments. This position takes him across the globe and more often than not, he invites those he meets to be guests at their home. "We've had lots of visitors from around the world," says Nancy, noting that the cultural exchange can be both eye-opening and rewarding. The Rutledges bring that same enthusiasm for community and diversity to their experience as CSO subscribers.

"Maybe because we have aisle seats we have gotten to know everyone around us," laughs John. "They're all wonderful. It's such a friendly environment. I feel really comfortable here. When we first subscribed, we sat in the seventh row. The first musician on the stage was always (bassist) Joe Guastafeste. We were usually early and we started to wave to one another. We're now in row L and Joe still looks for us and waves his bow." Nancy adds, "It's like he's acknowledging that there's somebody out there that he's playing for. Musicians pick up vibes from the audience. We're all in this together."

As subscribers, the Rutledges enjoy a wide range of programming. "There's more diversity when you subscribe than what you'd pick on your own," says Nancy. "It's a good mix of repertoire. That's what makes it so interesting."

"Both of us have come a long way in our musical tastes," notes John. "Once I thought, Bartók, ugh. Now we listen to Lutoslawski and Messiaen. One of the reasons, I think, is because we had exposure to that music being performed really, really well. That makes a huge difference."

In gratitude, the Rutledges intend to make a difference of their own through a planned gift to the CSO. "The arts are so important," says John. "Giving back is essential. Not everyone has millions and millions of dollars but almost everyone has something to give."

Nancy agrees, noting that the Theodore Thomas Society welcomes members of modest means. "People think you have to be rich, but what is rich? It's just a different philosophy about savings. What's important is that you do something now so that down the road things go as you want them to. We need to get away from the idea of money. It's more than money. It's stewardship. If you find your passion, you can make an impact. That's how I feel about the CSO."

Robert and Leah Hamman
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"We learned a lot about different trusts over the years putting seven grandchildren through college. When it was time for us to consider investing in the future of the CSO, we had pretty high goals for our planned giving: provide for a sizeable donation, earn a good rate of interest, reduce capital gains taxes and enjoy the benefits of tax deductions. Believe it or not, the decision-making was easy and our gift annuity is already providing financial security for the Orchestra. This gives us immense satisfaction."

Pictured here in The Club at Symphony Center, Robert and Leah Hamman both grew up in Rochester, New York and played violin together in the intercity high school orchestra. After their marriage, they moved to Chicago where Robert worked in management consulting for A.T. Kearney and raised three sons with Leah.

A Charitable Gift Annuity is the plan that Leah and the late Robert Hamman put in place to help the CSO maintain its high standards. The annuity is one of the most popular methods of making a deferred charitable gift, allowing the CSO to receive a gift of cash or securities and contractually agreeing to pay an annuity to the donor. The annuity usually pays lifetime returns that exceed those of fixed income securities. This technique works equally well with large and small gifts.