Volunteer Q&A: Rina Magarici

While growing up in Venezuela, Rina Magarici took conservatory music classes in piano, harmony, music history and aesthetics for more than 10 years. A graduate of New York University, she moved to Chicago in 2010, where she obtained her MBA and worked as a marketing executive. She joined the CSO Latino Alliance in 2014 and is now the group's co-chair. Being part of the Latino Alliance allows her to share her passion for music, a universal language.

What inspires your love of music?

Music: the only language that has no barriers. Music makes me feel like I share a unique and special place with others. I have always been drawn to classical music. As a child and later as a teenager, I was enrolled at the music conservatory in my hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. I took piano lessons for over 10 years and received a well-rounded education that included music theory, harmony, music history and music appreciation, among others.

My parents, born in Eastern Europe, emphasized the importance of music in our home. When I go to a performance, I find my fingers starting to move as though I was playing the piece myself, and I can get lost in those moments.

What drew you to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra?

After moving to Chicago, I eagerly explored all of the great cultural institutions that the city has to offer. My favorite soon became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the finest in the world. The CSO reflects the diversity of the city it calls home, with musicians with many different backgrounds, led by the great Italian conductor Riccardo Muti. While I am partial to the classical compositions I learned in my youth, attending the CSO's varied programs has allowed me to learn about new composers and new music genres. The effort to expose the audience to a variety of classical, and sometimes other contemporary music composers reflects the hard and meticulous work of the programming department. They are always trying to please current audiences, while making the effort to engage new fans.

Why did you decide to join the Latino Alliance?

I learned about the CSO Latino Alliance while attending a CSO concert. My husband and I were wandering around Symphony Center and walked into the Latino Alliance reception in Grainger Ballroom. The setting was beautiful and I bumped into some people I was acquainted with. We were warmly greeted by the event hosts. I had been looking for an organization where I could offer my skills and fulfill my needs by becoming an active volunteer, and that night, I found it. I became a volunteer and later was invited to be a co-chair, which opened up other wonderful and meaningful opportunities. I enjoy inviting fellow Latinos to these events, knowing they will be greeted with the same sense of warmth and hospitality and also be transported by the amazing music.

What's one of the most fulfilling activities or events that you’ve been part of during your time with the Latino Alliance?

Working with the Latino Alliance advisory board has given me insight into how volunteers can contribute to sustaining the greatness that is the CSO. Hosting and planning events for the organization makes me feel I am giving back to this institution. I felt especially honored and connected to my roots in classical music when I had the opportunity to introduce a young Venezuelan guest conductor, Rafael Payare, during a Latino Alliance pre-concert event.

What are you most looking forward to when the CSO returns to live concerts?

I am eagerly looking forward to attending live concerts. Knowing there is a CSO concert on our calendar always fills me with anticipation. On concert nights, we build our schedule around the performance and socializing with friends before or after. It has always been gratifying to introduce people to CSO performances and watch them enjoy the experience and sometimes become regulars. Every concert we attend is a mix of people we know and wonderful new people we meet at the event. I love attending open rehearsals and watching the interactions between the conductor, musicians and audience. I also look forward to experiencing Symphony Center from different angles, such as the unique view you get when sitting on the Gray Terrace and looking down at the conductor and musicians while facing the enraptured audience.

Why do you believe it’s important for volunteers, donors and patrons to support the CSO?

The performers, the support staff, the patrons, donors and volunteers all contribute to the success and continuity of the CSO. Each constituent's role is interlocked and plays an important part. I have realized the impact of donors and volunteers in the organization and have taken some initiatives.

It has been a privilege to host donor-appreciation soirees on our rooftop, where we had the opportunity to hear selected CSO performers while introducing new potential donors to the CSO. I have also had the opportunity to host Latino Alliance volunteer appreciation events and invite members from other auxiliaries to create a sense of camaraderie among volunteer groups. I am proud to be able to make my contributions!

Bringing in new patrons and volunteers keeps the CSO growing and makes the future look bright.