Jill W. Brennan became a CSO subscriber in the 2013/14 season, and a governing member in January 2014. She sits on the Board of Directors at Lurie Children’s Hospital, where she has served as a director and president of the Founders Board, and is a member of the International Women Associates. Jill published her novel,Skyscrapers, in November 2013. She lives in Chicago and has family across Chicago’s suburbs and Washington.
What inspired you to become a Governing Member?
I’ve always loved the CSO, but I haven’t always been active in the orchestra community. Many years ago, I worked for Ravinia and heard the CSO during the summer. So when Jackie Gronek approached me and asked if I’d like to join the CSO as a GM, I thought that would be a refreshing, fun thing. I missed having the CSO in my life, and now I’m having a wonderful time. I’m really thrilled that she asked me.
What interests you about GM membership?
I’m looking forward to meeting other GMs on those great concert nights. It’s an amazing group of people you get to meet. I joined at the GM level so I can take advantage of The Thomas Club and the Community Table there. I love the idea of meeting new people with similar interests, and getting to share a table with those who share my love of music.
Do you see a connection between music and writing?
I think that in both music and writing, you have to practice and concentrate. In music, you explore what the composers are trying to express. When writing, you’re working out where your characters are leading you. The interaction between a writer and her creations must be somewhat akin to a composer’s struggle to get all the orchestra’s voices to blend into a beautiful musical experience.
What inspires your love of music?
My father was a jazz musician, and I started playing piano when I was a little girl. I also play the mandolin. My grandfather was a mandolin player, and I inherited his instrument. You can play it with any type of music. I’m grateful that I grew up around music. It’s so important to have music in the lives of children and to expose them to all the different genres and instruments. If you can expose children to music that’s accessible, building upon their love of music becomes easy. Sometimes kids will express an interest in an instrument—they’ll see it or hear it and connect with it. If that happens—run, don’t walk, to your nearest music store! Take advantage of that interest. It will start them on their own journey. All my children and grandchildren are musical, playing french horn, piano, violin, marimba, and so on. Every time you turn around, someone’s practicing. That’s a very joyous thing. Music has been so important to me. I’m grateful that the CSO allows me to hear wonderful music on a regular basis.
How do you think the CSO plays a role in Chicago today?
I think the CSO is essential to Chicago and the community here. It holds down the Loop! There are a number of cultural institutions that are important to the city, and I think they make each other stronger. The CSO has such wonderful musicians that many people, when they visit Chicago, always include a CSO performance on their trip. Even though they may support their hometown musicians, hearing this world-class orchestra, and in such a beautiful building, is an unbeatable experience, in my opinion.
To learn more about becoming a governing member, please call Jenna Kaferly, governing member gifts manager, at 312-294-3337.