Randy and Melvin Berlin


Randy and Melvin Berlin founded the Berlin Family Fund for the Canon at the CSO, supporting the performance of works by some of the greatest composers in classical music. The Berlins have been subscribers for more than forty years, and CSO supporters for more than thiry years. Melvin R. Berlin founded both the Berlin Metals Company and the Berlin Packaging Company, for which he serves as Chairman Emeritus. Randy R. Berlin, a lecturer in law and literature at the University of Chicago Law School, joined the CSO Board of Trustees in 2013. A retired lawyer, she also served as Chair of the Humanities Division Visiting Committee at the University of Chicago.

How did you first connect with the CSO?
One of the loves we shared when we first met as teenagers was classical music, and we would attend concerts together. We became subscribers in our thirties and have been subscribers ever since. Our contributions were small to begin with, but increased as music at the CSO became one of the most meaningful experiences that continues to enrich our lives.

What inspires your love of certain composers?
Our favorite composers are those we support through the Berlin Family Fund for the Canon—Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert. Not that there aren’t other great composers, but these four are fundamental to the development of music and more importantly, these are the composers we continue to enjoy the most. Their music inspires a sense of beauty, order, intelligence, and emotion. It’s like having a conversation with great people but in notes and sounds. They have the most profoundly interesting ways of expressing themselves and what is deepest within us. It’s common but true to say that music speaks to everybody in a language of sound we all can understand.

What inspired you to support these works?
Our interest has always been to support what we believe is truly great and ennobling in literature, music, and art. We are always eager to hear new interpretations of these composers’ works because great music bears the repetition that multiple interpretations provide. Today, so many are so eager to hear something new and original, but in that pursuit, Melvin and I fear the music of the past may be neglected. Great works composed by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, when performed brilliantly as the CSO regularly does, has the magic to touch us so deeply whether the first time or every time.

What role does the CSO play in Chicago’s cultural landscape?
The CSO is one of the main reasons we stay so close to Chicago. Think—what would English literature be without Shakespeare? What would Chicago be without the CSO? That may seem an exaggeration, but truly, there would be a gap—a void in the city and in the arts. Chicago is fortunate to have the beauty of Lake Michigan, amazing cultural and academic institutions, and a great symphony orchestra like the CSO. Together they to create a physical and cultural landscape that forms the city we are blessed to live in. We feel fortunate to know the beauty of it all.