Volunteer Q&A: Kim Ellwein

Kim Ellwein is social media and membership chair of the Overture Council.

What inspires your love of music?

Music has always been a large part of my life. From my brother playing Charlie Parker on his sax to my sister teaching me the "Heart and Soul" simple piano duet, my childhood home was always brimming with music. My love for music has grown every day since. Finding new composers, artists and genres is a constantly inspirational journey for me. It is hard for me to imagine my life without music. It is something that sustains me — a necessity.

What drew you to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra?

I have always had a deep love for the symphony, but growing up in North Dakota, I never really had much access. After moving to Chicago, the world of music was my oyster, and sitting at the pearly center was the CSO. Rich with tradition but unafraid of innovation, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was a cornerstone institution I could not resist!

Why did you decide to join the Overture Council?

I was introduced to the Overture Council shortly after moving to Chicago by Mimi Duginger, who at the time was the president of the League. Noticing I was new to the DePaul Community Choir, she asked me about myself and what I was into. After responding "classical music and philanthropy, but I haven't done much since graduating college," she whipped out a flyer for Soundpost and urged me to check out the OC. I went to the next event (Mid-season Meeting) and haven't looked back since.

What is one of the most fulfilling activities or events that you’ve been part of during your time with the Overture Council?

Volunteering for Adventures in Music was amazing. With the way that music has shaped my life since childhood, I have always been a strong advocate that the fine arts should be accessible and available to kids. Seeing their faces light up as they discover potentially a new passion was extremely fulfilling. Knowing that the CSO provides this kind of programming to the community makes me proud to be associated.

Do you have a favorite concert or other memory of the CSO?

It is so hard to pick a favorite concert, but toward the top would definitely be Holst's The Planets and Higdon's blue cathedral. Both were exquisitely performed, with the latter moving me to tears.

How have you kept music part of your life over the past year?

Music is one of the things that has kept me going through the pandemic. Whether it was tuning in to CSOtv or tossing on some vinyl, music has been my one constant. I also purchased myself a digital piano to get back into playing after a three-year hiatus.

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

The energy. It is so hard to describe unless you have experienced it, but the energy that comes with attending a live performance of any kind is invigorating. I also deeply miss the space. There is something so special about Symphony Center.

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

I believe music is powerful beyond measure. To sustain this wonderous force, we must continue our steadfast support of the CSO. Volunteers, donors and patrons know how important it is to maintain this institution so that generations to come may enjoy the music and the symphony orchestra we have come to love.