Pamela Hull is a CSO Life Trustee who has been attending CSO concerts since she was eleven years old. She served as past president of the Women’s Association, now the League, at the CSOA from 1971 to 1974. She and her husband Roger reside in Lake Forest and are also supporters of the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Royal Oak Foundation, Lake Forest–Lake Bluff Historical Society, and the Chicago Community Trust.
How did you begin attending CSO concerts as a child?
My grandmother introduced me to the Orchestra. My school let out at noon on Fridays, so we would go to the Palmer House for lunch and then walk to the CSO around the corner. I’ve been coming ever since, sitting in the same box where my grandmother sat. Those seats got passed down through the family.
Did you have a favorite composer as a child?
All the great composers really stuck with me. I remember coming to the CSO and hearing Pictures at an Exhibition conducted by Fritz Reiner— that’s a great piece of music. Today, I still love Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. It’s a very specific piece—beautiful melody, beautifully constructed—it’s just terrific. The CSO has superb soloists when it’s played here. This season, I’m looking forward to Shostakovich. I like Russian music a lot. Tchaikovsky is extremely melodic and very beautiful. Shostakovich’s music is very strong, very powerful.
Do you have any favorite memories of the Women’s Association?
The Women’s Association was wonderful fun. One year, we held a fundraiser concert, and had comedian Danny Kaye conduct the CSO. He was such a funny man. He showed up with these plastic shoes and plaid socks, striped socks, and polka-dot socks. He changed his socks and shoes during the day—he had a trunk full! He also requested the CSO provide two-dozen batons, which he broke during the performance. During the concert, sitting near me, was comedian Jack Benny. He laughed so hard he just about fell out of his chair. Jack Benny also conducted orchestras around the country for fundraisers, and the two had a competition to see who could raise the most money.
What is it like traveling on CSO Patron Tours?
We went to Europe with the Orchestra the first time they traveled abroad, when Solti was conducting. It was great fun. They were hugely popular everywhere they went. You get very proud of this orchestra— they’re world-class. One year, we went to Japan—that was really interesting. Many of the audience members brought music with them and followed the score as it was being played. They really knew their stuff. At the end of one concert, the audience kept applauding, and one by one, the orchestra members left the stage until there was only one person left! And then, the audience went and stood outside the stage door to get autographs from the conductor and orchestra members.
How have you seen the Orchestra grow over time?
I think the Orchestra—the quality of the music the Orchestra makes—is just as good today as it was then, and just as good then as it is today. Maestro Muti inherited a superb orchestra. He has wonderful insight into the nuances of a piece. Under his baton, I’m hearing pieces today like I’ve never heard them before.
What role has music played in your life?
I can’t imagine my life without music, without this orchestra. I can’t imagine Chicago without it! It’s better than any other orchestra—it’s one-of-a-kind. It’s been one of the blessings of my life.