Bruce E. Clinton, retired chairman and CEO of The Clinton Companies, has served as a member of the CSOA’s Board of Trustees since 2008. He and his wife, Martha, have been longtime supporters of the Orchestra and both are very involved in the classical music world. Bruce is a trustee of the New World Symphony, where he was involved in the conception and construction of the New World Center. He also serves as a board member of the League of American Orchestras (LAO) and on the Visiting Committee to the Division of the Humanities, University of Chicago. He and Martha both serve on the board of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and the Cleveland Orchestra–Miami Residency. In 2014 and 2015, The Clinton Family Fund gave two generous gifts to the CSO in support of a new timpani and endowing in perpetuity the principal timpani chair position, The Clinton Family Fund Principal Timpani Chair.
How did you become connected to the CSO?
Chicago was my home—I was born and raised here, and graduated from Northwestern. I started in business here, so I have a long history with the city and the CSO in particular. As a teenager, I discovered and nurtured a passion for great music at the CSO’s matinee concerts. In my late teens, I even fantasized about becoming a professional timpanist. For me, each time we attend a CSO program, it’s a trip down memory lane. The last time we were here, we attended the concert with our good friends Bob (a fellow CSO trustee) and Susan Wislow when they rolled out the new timpani. After the concert, we were invited backstage and saw David Herbert and Maestro Muti. They made us feel so welcome and it was great to see the new instrument up close. Now, with The Clinton Family Fund principal chair, we have a much enhanced sense of connectivity.
What inspired your support of the timpani instruments and chair position?
We are immensely proud to be associated, even in a small way, with Maestro Muti, the extraordinary musicians of the CSO, and David Herbert, who is a preeminent timpanist. We’re reminded how important it is for a collective effort on the part of a lot of people and institutions to support and nurture this organization. I just hope that this small sum added to the endowment—over many years and along with each generation—continues to keep the CSO at the top rank among its peers.
What excites you about serving on the CSOA Board?
It’s a source of great privilege to have the opportunity, in any way, to participate in and contribute to the CSOA. As a board member of the LAO, I’m exposed to some really outstanding orchestras in this country—none that surpass the CSO. It’s a source of real personal pride.
How have you seen Maestro Muti’s leadership impact the Orchestra?
He has the perfect profile to be the ultimate music director of a twenty-first-century orchestra. He’s absolutely first-rate in his musicological expertise—his creative and artistic skills are superb. I think Muti has done a brilliant job integrating himself into the Orchestra and building an extraordinary relationship with the musicians. Also, he’s made a commendable effort in connecting to the wider Chicago community. I do believe that the CSO is an essential cornerstone of the artistic and cultural fabric of Chicago. I think this is an art form that has to redefine itself—or enhance its definition—in order to remain relevant. The work that Muti and the CSO are doing to reach out more broadly, ensuring that it’s relevant, is great.
To learn more about making a leadership gift, please call Karen Lewis Alexander, vice president for development, at 312-294-3151.