Julie and Roger Baskes, lead individual sponsors of the Reveries & Passions Festival, have been CSO subscribers for nearly forty years. They have supported a variety of CSO programs, most recently including the 2013–14 Verdi Celebration, Otello conducted by Maestro Muti, and the Negaunee Music Institute Civic Orchestra of Chicago’s joint concert with the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center. Julie is an executive committee member of the Lyric Opera Board of Directors, a member and past president of the board of the Ryan Opera Center, and on the board of the Merit School of Music. Roger is a trustee and former chair of the board of the Newberry Library and a trustee of Goodman Theatre and Chicago Opera Theater. Julie and Roger actively support the Library of Congress, the University of Chicago Library, the Chicago Humanities Festival, and Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare theaters.
What was your first experience with the CSO?
Neither of us grew up listening to classical music or came from homes where classical music was very prevalent. We first heard the CSO at Ravinia, where we went together the first summer we met. When we were married, we would go several times a week—as often as fifteen times during the summer. What are some of your favorite CSO memories? One of the most extraordinary was Verdi’s Requiem conducted by Maestro Georg Solti in May 1975, with wonderful soloists, including a young Luciano Pavarotti. It’s a special treat for us when programs include vocal music and we love hearing the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Among our best experiences at Orchestra Hall were the three Mozart–Da Ponte operas performed in concert by the CSO in 1992, and we are very excited about the forthcoming 125th season performance of Falstaff under Maestro Muti.
How do you think Maestro Muti has influenced the CSO?
He’s very exciting. It’s clear to everyone—no matter their level of experience—that the Orchestra plays incredibly well and very precisely under his baton. Maestro Muti’s involvement and presence in Chicago communities is also very inspiring. He has done terrific work outside of Symphony Center and across the city. From Citizen Musician™ events to the involvement of Yo-Yo Ma, the CSO connects with everyone in Chicago.
What inspires your support of the CSO and the Negaunee Music Institute?
We believe philanthropy is contagious, so we try to influence that. We are fortunate to be involved in the leadership of a number of different organizations, and you have to remember that in America almost all of these institutions are supported by individuals. Americans can be very proud of that. We hope our involvement inspires others to connect with the CSO in any way they can. We simply couldn’t have these amazing institutions and this art form without philanthropic citizens.
How do you think the CSO fits into the cultural landscape of Chicago?
We’re proud of the CSO and its outstanding national and international reputation. We’re also proud of the remarkable collaborative spirit of Chicago. Our institutions and the communities that support them work together in ways not seen in other places, benefitting the participating organizations and all of us who live here.
Any advice for those looking to become more involved?
Groups like the Governing Members are very inspiring. But the single best thing you can do to help the CSO is buy a subscription. It’s the best way to ensure the health of the CSO and ensure you get a ticket.
For more information about concert support, please contact Bobbie Rafferty, director of individual giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-294-3165.