For Carol Klenk, family ties inspire a lifelong love of the Chicago Symphony

Carol and Jim Klenk

For Carol Klenk, a Governing Member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, an affinity for classical music began early — perhaps even before she was born. Her mother, cellist Margaret Evans, performed with the Grant Park Orchestra in the summer months leading up to Carol’s birth. Additionally, both of her parents, Margaret and violist Donald Evans, were members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They performed together with the CSO for almost 40 years, retiring in 1988.

“There was always music in our home,” Carol recalls. Growing up in Winnetka, she tagged along to the CSO’s summer rehearsals at the Ravinia Festival. The lush outdoor venue offered “a playground with background music.” After rehearsals, her parents often hosted fellow musicians for social gatherings at their home.

The family’s connections to classical music in Chicago extend back another generation. Her grandfather, Clarence Evans, was a member of the CSO from 1920 to 1947. He served as principal viola from 1926 to 1939. Additionally, her maternal and paternal grandmothers, both violinists, met through the Woman’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago. They performed with the ensemble in the 1930s, an era when few women played in major symphonies, and formed a lifelong friendship. The two families played chamber music together, and Margaret and Donald grew up as childhood sweethearts.

Carol Klenk carries on her family’s musical legacy by supporting the CSO and other local arts organizations. “I have a huge appreciation for music,” she says. She grew up playing the piano and violin, and in her high school years, she was actively involved in choral music and theater. Later, while raising two sons in Wilmette with her husband, Jim, she regularly volunteered for cultural, school and church activities. Carol has been a member of Ravinia’s Women’s Board for 20 years and still serves today.

Carol and Jim have subscribed to the CSO every season since 1974, when her parents gave them a subscription as an anniversary present. Now retired, they live within walking distance of Symphony Center and often “get tickets on a whim” for concerts outside their subscription. She also is a Governing Member, the CSOA's oldest philanthropic society for supporters of its artistic and community engagement programs. Governing Members have access to exclusive benefits, such as events with musicians and dinners in the Richard and Helen Thomas Club. Beyond these events, Carol and Jim enjoy pre-concert lectures, which are free to ticketholders before every CSO concert.

“We love Chicago,” she says. From sports, opera and theater to the orchestra where her family has made such an impact, “we take full advantage of the city.”