John and Sally Hard have been CSO subscribers for twenty-three years and donors for twenty-two. John became a Governing Member (GM) in 2013 and has served on the Annual Fund Committee since joining, currently serving as vice-chair. He and Sally generously increased their support to become 125th anniversary season sponsors. John and Sally split their time between Chicago and Iverness, Illinois, and enjoy spending time with their three grandchildren.
What inspired your initial connection to the CSO?
We used to go to Ravinia all the time, but came down to Orchestra Hall for the first time back in the 1980s. When we first subscribed, Symphony Center was undergoing renovations. We increased our involvement then and named a pair of seats on the main floor. Since subscribing, we’ve moved around a lot. People like different seats depending on what they connect to, what instruments they like, and how they like to watch the concert. When you sit close, you really can feel the music coming off the stage. Now we’ve ended up on the left, with the violins. We love watching them play, and it’s lovely to see so many female musicians on stage!
What’s your favorite part about being a GM?
A few years ago, one of the GM Nominations Committee members invited me to join the Governing Members. Upon joining, I became interested in the GM Annual Fund Committee—it felt like a natural transition from my professional life to help raise money for something I really valued. We’ve enjoyed coming to different events and meeting some very interesting people. We also really appreciate the community of staff at Symphony Center and are consistently impressed with how dedicated everyone is and what a good job everyone does.
What made the 125th anniversary season special for you?
Alongside our GM commitment last year, we attended a special event with Maestro Muti. That experience was fabulous. Serving on the planning committee was also very fun: we got to help choose the menu, the décor, all of it. Jessica Erickson, CSOA senior donor engagement manager, gave us wonderful options to choose from, so we couldn’t go wrong. We are having the invitation and the program from the event framed as a memento. It was a special evening for us. At the event, we enjoyed a reception held on Armour Stage—a very unique experience! It was great to be up there in the musicians’ space, where we normally see them playing. It was surprising how close the stage and musicians are to the audience. It’s a totally different perspective. During the program, we sat very close to Maestro Muti. It was such a phenomenal experience to be so close to someone you admire so much. He’s so charming, and was so dear to us. The evening also featured a display of artifacts from the Rosenthal Archives. Frank Villella, director of the archives, displayed Grammy® awards, a Beethoven life mask, a silver cornucopia given to Theodore Thomas, and the score of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony used by Thomas for the piece’s U.S. premiere. It was unbelievable to see these things up close—part of CSO history that most people don’t even know exists!
Any advice to audience members looking to become more involved?
It’s been a pleasure to serve as a Governing Member and on a committee. I think that serving on a committee where you can interact with staff is a wonderful thing to do. That experience gives you a much deeper appreciation of this place. We’ve had a great time.
For more information about the Governing Members, please contact Rachel Hain, Manager of Governing Member Gifts at 312-294-3337.