Hillis @ 100: A Special Message from Duain Wolfe

Duain Wolfe

Todd Rosenberg Photography

"What is it like to be the successor to the legendary Margaret Hillis?” It is a question posed to me many times by curious musicians and patrons. It’s not an easy question to answer, because there are so many variables involved, but I think that the first thought that comes to mind is probably the best: It is a profound honor.

In 1994, I had the great honor of taking on the daunting role of director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus — a remarkable musical ensemble that was Margaret Hillis’s sterling legacy. And what a wonderful legacy she passed to me, indeed, an honor. This renowned Chorus glowed with Hillis distinctions: a warm, vibrant and bold sound that could match the grand soundscape of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; pristine pitch that reverberates throughout the large membership; and rhythm — yes, dynamic, exciting and exacting rhythm. Who could ask for a greater gift than this beautiful Margaret Hillis legacy? Now it was my responsibility to maintain it and inspire new levels of artistry from the ensemble. It has been a challenging responsibility, and I have truly cherished this extraordinary honor.

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