Cecelia Samans has been a CSOA donor and subscriber for more than thirty years. Born and raised in Chicago, she is a supporter of the CSO, the Civic Orchestra, and a member of the Theodore Thomas Society, the CSOA’s planned giving society. She is an alumna of St. Xavier University, earned an MBA at the University of Chicago, and was as a chemist for thirty-five years. She also served as a volunteer for WFMT and led tours for the Chicago Cultural Center for eighteen years.
What are some of your earliest CSO memories?
The first time I remember coming to Symphony Center was when I was eight or nine, and came for a piano recital by Myra Hess. This was during the Depression Era—money was scarce and we walked up to the Gallery because elevators hadn’t been installed yet. About thirty or thirty-five years ago,
I began subscribing. I prefer First Balcony seats for CSO concerts because they offer excellent sound and views of the Orchestra that allow me to see the players.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Both of my parents were respectable amateur pianists, a higher level than I achieved. I began piano lessons in early grade school. When you’re young, you imagine the subject you love will be your future.
But as my music studies progressed, I learned the demands of being a professional musician. I had neither the talent nor passion to become a successful musician, so I became a listener. My early exposure, however, gave me a lifelong appreciation of music.
What inspires your support of Civic?
As a member of the CSO family, I gradually learned more about the Civic and their concerts, and I find them so enjoyable. I realize how much is required in a young person’s journey from “liking music” to “being a musician.” Today, young musicians face overwhelming competition, and I am impressed with their commitment. I’ve enjoyed the privilege of knowing a few of these musicians as both artists and people. I appreciate that I may make some impact on the life of a musician, and hope they find exciting and fulfilling careers!
What inspires your ongoing support of the CSO?
We need the CSO just like the CSO needs us. I would not like to think about the city without the CSO. Chicago has many other organizations that offer fine performances but none are equal to the CSO—it’s paramount in the city’s culture. I treasure the CSO for the pleasure it provides to me and for the musical status it provides to Chicago. Most cities in the world are envious of the CSO.
What inspires your membership in the Theodore Thomas Society?
I wanted to make a lasting difference, a longer-term impact for the CSO. I choose the charitable annuity that works well for me and for the CSOA. I am happy to contribute in this way. I encourage people who have the opportunity to become involved in the Theodore Thomas Society. It is satisfying to know that my name will be with the CSO after I’m no longer here. I know the CSO will be here for generations!
Any advice for those looking to be more involved?
Although I connected to the CSO through concerts, I wish I had participated in their volunteer activities. There are many opportunities to get to know the Orchestra—something for everyone. I’m past the point of the young professionals group, but that is a wonderful opportunity for young music lovers to become involved and grow with the Orchestra.