Henry Frank and his wife Rhoda have been CSO subscribers for nearly 60 years, and are both CSOA Life Trustees. Rhoda has been a CSO Governing Member since 1987, and was previously a Women’s Association member before becoming a Friend of the League in 2009. The Franks are Theodore Thomas Society members and most recently co-commissioned Giovanni Sollima’s cello concerto, which was given its world premiere during the 2013-14 season. The Franks, who reside in Chicago, also are generous patrons of the Chicago History Museum and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Did you come from a musical background?
I grew up playing oboe in grade school and high school in Joliet. When I was in high school, I played with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra for a while, but I didn’t make it to the CSO until about 1956 when Rhoda and I were married.
What are your earliest CSO memories?
We started going to concerts during Fritz Reiner’s final years as music director. Our first tickets were in the Gallery and cost about $2.50. For the first year, I went to concerts on my own–my wife would stay home with the baby. The next year, we got two tickets. We spent about ten or fifteen years in the Gallery! Tickets were at an absolute premium. People used to stand outside the hall just hoping to get in. Tickets on the main floor were hard to come by. When we finally did move down, we developed good friendships with the people sitting around us. We see many of the same faces over and over again.
What inspires your ongoing support of the CSO?
It’s so important that we support the Orchestra beyond just attending concerts–an institution like this can’t rely on ticket sales alone. We’re so fond of music. Music is something that keeps people together. Our musicians are reading the same notes that others read hundreds of years ago. The tradition has brought joy to so many people.
Any favorite concert memories?
Seeing the orchestra under Sir Georg Solti was a real treat. His intensity and his personal investment in reforming the Orchestra, creating a different sound, was really apparent. He really changed the way the Orchestra played together. And he was with us for a long time and forged a great unit of musicians that played together very well. Maestro Muti has followed in that same trajectory. The Orchestra makes such beautiful music today. The musicians are just incredible. We went on a Patrons Tour with the CSO in 2005 and saw them perform across many of the famous concert halls of Europe. A great highlight for us was getting to enjoy real social time with the musicians–we enjoyed lunch and dinner with them and found out that they’re just like us! We had a lot of fun with them. It was incredible to see their work on tour, their positivity among each other, and among audiences around the world.
What inspires your membership in the Theodore Thomas Society?
Planned giving is a way for us to support the Orchestra’s survival in perpetuity. The only way to ensure the CSO’s long-term future is to maintain that funding, and it’s my hope that when we’re gone, someone will step into our place. They always have. But in addition to ensuring the Orchestra lives on, I also like to think that in the 60 years of coming here, going to concerts, attending dinners, and then parking and hiring baby sitters, that we’ve really supported the Orchestra!
To learn more about supporting the CSO, please contact Bobbie Rafferty, director of individual giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-294-3165.