Suzette and James Mahneke

What inspires your love of music?

My love of music and opera was inspired and influenced by three people: my dad, a Sister of Charity and a college professor. From a very young age, I would faithfully watch “New Year’s Day from Vienna” with my dad. We loved it. To this day, I still watch it every New Year’s Day. When my dad traveled to Vienna, I was too young to go. However, since then, I have made two recent visits on my own and absolutely loved it! I just have one regret, and that is that I was never able to go with him to Vienna. My sophomore music teacher, who was a sister, further inspired my love of music and opera. In addition to the music-appreciation class she taught, she also provided me with the opportunity to see my first opera, which was Carmen. I’ve been an avid opera fan since.

A college professor was my third inspiration. His love of music was so apparent to everyone — I think of him often. That was probably my very favorite college class. I still have my music appreciation book!

What initially drew you to the CSO?

My husband James and I have been subscribers to Lyric Opera for at least 25 years and the symphony for 10. We’ve always lived in the Chicagoland area, and for the past 20 years, downtown Chicago, so the resources have always been available.

Why do you feel it’s important to support the CSOA as a member of the Theodore Thomas Society?

I wish to leave my gift to the CSO so that the gift of music can continue for all people of all ages. I love the school programs that you are providing. Since I have a choice for my gift-giving, it definitely will be in the areas of music. I feel there is nothing that can match the historical, emotional, spiritual and well-being that music can provide.

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