Lynne Turner joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1962 at age 21, shortly after becoming the first American to win first prize in the International Harp Contest in Israel — the world’s oldest and most prestigious competition for harpists. Born in Saint Louis, she came to Chicago at age 4 and started piano lessons at age 8 with her mother Evelyn, an accomplished pianist. Her father, Sol Turner, was a member of the first violin section of the Orchestra for 22 years; he had previously been a member of the St. Louis Symphony and concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. When Lynne was 10, he introduced her to the harp, which became her chosen instrument. She first performed with the CSO at age 14, when she was the featured soloist in a series of youth concerts.
Turner studied with Alberto Salvi in Chicago and Pierre Jamet at the Paris Conservatory; she graduated with highest honors, earning the premier prix, première nommée, hors concours. After completing her studies in Paris, Turner auditioned for CSO music director Fritz Reiner; she was one of the youngest musicians in a major American symphony when she joined the Orchestra. In subsequent years, she has appeared with ensembles throughout the world, participated in numerous chamber music and music education series, been featured on WFMT Radio with the late CSO violinist Betty Lambert, and served as acting principal harp of the CSO.
She has been on the faculties of DePaul University and Lake Forest College and currently teaches privately. Turner was a juror for the 2017 Vancouver International Music Competition and a judge for the 17th International Harp Contest, held in 2009. In commemoration of Israel’s 50th anniversary, she performed at a gala concert in Jerusalem featuring first-prize winners of the Israel competition — a distinguished group representing Australia, France, Italy, Japan and Romania, as well as the U.S. She returned to Tel Aviv in 2019 and performed Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro with the Israel Philharmonic in a concert held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the International Harp Contest.
Other artists in Lynne’s family include her brother Richard, principal harp of the Winnipeg Symphony since 1977; her son Bennett, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, based in Los Angeles, whose films have been screened at venues including the Sundance Film Festival, The Kennedy Center and The British Museum; and her daughter Rachel, an acclaimed decorator and interior designer who lives in New Jersey with her husband and twin daughters.
She was married to the late Dr. Albert Tennenbaum, an ophthalmologist who shared her passion for classical music, traveling, gardening, photography and bringing together friends for dinner parties. Turner is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who in Entertainment, among other publications.
“Being part of a world-class ensemble and bringing music to audiences in Chicago and around the globe continues to be an indescribable joy,” says Turner. “Every concert is unique and rewarding — and an opportunity to create a transcendent musical experience.”