Marian Felgenhauer and her late husband, Paul Felgenhauer, have been CSO donors for nearly three decades and CSO subscribers since 2006. Among their other enjoyments are travel, opera, and summers camping with their four grandchildren. They celebrated fifty-seven years of marriage in 2014, and Marian remains a resident of Hyde Park on Chicago’s South Side.
What first drew you to the CSO?
We came to see Maestro Solti about five years after he became music director. Hearing the music performed in the hall really increased the quality of sound and gave me an appreciation for modern pieces. At first, we sat in the very last row of the Gallery–the price was right!
What inspires your ongoing support of the CSO?
We shared so many wonderful memories from our time together in Orchestra Hall, it’s a very warm feeling I have for the CSO. My interest in music comes from the listening pleasure, hearing the sound filling the hall. Paul always enjoyed listening to music and had a deep appreciation for the presentation and the technical aspects. There was no better place to get that experience than from our Gallery vantage with the Orchestra onstage, so well-rehearsed, to play for us.
Do you have a favorite CSO memory?
At the end of the 2013/14 season, Paul was in the hospital for an extended period. He worried it might overlap with the last Muti concert. Each day of that week, he told the doctors “Friday is Muti’s last concert. If we’re through here, I’m going! If we’re not through, I’m going!” His doctors caught the urgency, but only at the last moment did they understand it was an afternoon concert! They moved into high gear, the various departments cooperated to finish testing and examining, and he was ready at noon. They cut the red tape, moved mountains, and got him out in time. We collected all his things, got in a cab, and went right from the hospital to 220 South Michigan! The remarkable staff at Symphony Center jumped into action. Lamont Moore, who leads CSO security, took it upon himself to lift Paul from the cab to the waiting wheelchair. Art Hildebrand, the ushers’ supervisor, and other volunteers and staff carried his things and opened doors—they made us feel welcome and comfortable. At the last minute, house manager Charles Braico summoned the engineer to remove two seats to accommodate Paul’s wheelchair. I remember sitting back in my seat and looking at Paul, who said, “We made it!”
What inspired you to name an Orchestra Hall seat in Paul’s memory?
Paul and I used to take our grandchildren camping, and we both thought about the lovely moments we shared sitting on benches with nameplates on them for remembrance. But while we no longer camped and hiked, we did continue to attend concerts. When we came to Symphony Center and saw the plaques on the seats, Paul mentioned how nice it was to honor a memory in the place that holds the music we love, and the orchestra we cherish. When Paul passed away in July last year, I contacted the CSO and learned I could name a seat with a gift given in installments, which makes it much more accessible. It is a true treasure and it’s on the armrest we shared.