Mimi Duginger was appointed President of the League of the CSO in the 2015/16 season after serving for two years as Vice President of Events on the Executive Committee. A Chicago resident, she is a retired elementary music educator with more than 33 years teaching experience. Mimi sings in the DePaul Community Chorus and serves as a guide for Walk Chicago Tours. She has been a League member and a docent for five years.
What inspired your career in music?
I grew up in a musical household; my mother was a pianist and church organist, and my brother and I both began playing piano when we were young. My instrument in college was the flute, but since retiring, I like to play jazz piano and accompany friends for fun. In college, my major was instrumental music, but when it was time to graduate, all the jobs were in general music education. But I found it was really my calling–I liked working with the little kids.
How did you get involved at the CSO?
I became a docent after I retired, as a way to volunteer, give back, and stay involved in music education. The docent program really fit in with my background. When I was a teacher, I worked mostly in Northbrook–I learned so much about music education that I still use today. I used to bring my third-grade students to the education concerts here at Symphony Center, and it was always such a transformative experience for them.
What do you hope to accomplish as League President?
My hope is that we can foster even deeper connections with the musicians we support. Each year, our Musicians Luncheon celebrates the orchestra musicians, and the Endowed Concert Reception celebrates the singers in the chorus. These events are great opportunities to connect with the people who make the music happen in Orchestra Hall. I also hope to welcome more men into the League. Although the League grew out of the former Women’s Association, our group welcomes men, and there are lots of opportunities to get involved, both in fundraising and in education programs.
What have been some of your favorite League events?
I loved planning the League meetings–they are a great opportunity to bring people together. We also have a variety of regional groups that offer fabulous events, too. David Herbert, the CSO’s Clinton Family Fund Timpani Chair, was our special guest at the League’s Northwest Indiana group. He performed for us and shared all the elements of playing the timpani, the mallets, the tuning–it was fascinating. We have also had a number of really great evening soiree-type events at the homes of our members.
Any advice for those looking to become involved?
The League has many opportunities to get involved in fundraising and education. Our fundraising events take a lot of people to put on, and it’s a great introduction to the CSO. Our education programs have great opportunities for people from all backgrounds. Docents attend workshops with teaching artists and music educators so they can prepare groups for their Symphony Center experience. We have docents who work with school groups, and some who work with senior groups and veterans groups, to prepare them for Open Rehearsals. Our Adventures in Music volunteers serve as ambassadors to groups from across the city. Our regional League groups are also a great way to connect to others who love music and the CSO–these are fun events that we hope new members will love. And we always encourage people to bring friends who might want to join!
For more information about CSO volunteer programs, please contact Lisa McDaniel, director of donor engagement, at 312- 294-3161.