Dietrich Gross became a CSO Trustee in 2002 and a Life Trustee in 2014. He and his wife, Erika, have supported the CSO for more than 30 years. Dietrich’s long, successful history of entrepreneurship dates back to the early 1970s when he founded Mercury Stainless Corp, and later, Jupiter Mortgage Corp., Jupiter Aluminum Corp., and Jupiter Oxygen Corp. In addition to Dietrich and Erika’s annual support of CSO concerts, in 2013, they endowed the Erika and Dietrich M. Gross Principal Flute Chair. Dietrich also serves on the boards of the Lyric Opera and the Solti Foundation. He and Erika reside in Wilmette.
What inspired your love of music?
My father was a concertmaster and conductor in Germany. For a while, he had his own orchestra–before and after the war. There was always classical music in my home but I was not allowed to play an instrument–my father was afraid that I would not be good enough to find a job in the few orchestras we had at the time in the 1930s and 1940s! But I still developed a great love for music.
What were your first impressions of the CSO?
I had an arrangement with my employer in Europe to move to any U.S. city I wanted. I had spent more than 15 years in Europe and Asia, so when it was time to move to the U.S., I chose Chicago, which came, fortunately, with great offerings in the arts and culture. I think my first CSO concert must have been in 1971.Sir Georg Solti was the music director at the time, and needless to say, he was fantastic. With Maestro Muti at the helm now, we and all our esteemed musicians are so fortunate to benefit from his outstanding leadership. And it’s such a thrill and pleasure to attend as many concerts as we possibly can.
What inspired your support of the principal flute chair and CSO concerts?
I was approached by Deborah Rutter, the CSOA’s President at the time, to consider different ways of supporting the Orchestra. So we put together a package of concert support and the naming of the principal flute chair. I love the flute–it’s a truly classical instrument. You can hear it from miles away and there’s nothing else in the orchestra that sounds like it. There are pieces of repertoire in which the flute is absolutely dominant and beautifully so.
What is your favorite part of serving on the CSO Board of Trustees?
As a Trustee, you get a lot of behind-the-scenes knowledge about the Orchestra. At the Symphony, the seasons are only designed one or two years in advance, so there is always exciting new information to learn. We also have an incredible orchestra that can work with any conductor and can play practically any piece of music you put in front of them. That’s a unique and special quality.
Who are your favorite composers?
As a lover of music, I don’t have a favorite composer–each composer has his or her own unique style. It is for this reason that many listeners can identify a composer often by the first notes or bars being played. I really love so many symphonies, concert pieces, and chamber music that it’s difficult to choose. They all deserve applause, and I always tell my wife that I would have loved to have been a conductor. Fortunately, my wife shares my love and passion for music, and we cannot imagine our lives without it.
To learn more about making a leadership gift, please call Karen Lewis Alexander, vice president for development, at 312-294-3151.