Symphony Ball: Renaissance Revelry







With just days before the September 21st Symphony Ball, co-chairs Mimi Murley and Leslie Henner Burns shared with guests the wonders of anniversaries (and little blue boxes) at a recent reception at Tiffany celebrating the Women’s Board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA).


Symphony Ball 2019 co-chairs Mimi Murley and Leslie Henner Burns with CSOA president Jeff Alexander.

Burns noted that the ball, all the more dazzling this year with its Italian Renaissance theme, celebrates its legacy and milestones in style: “We mark Maestro Riccardo Muti’s 10th season as music director, as we also celebrate the 10th year of the founding of our Women’s Board. The 100th year of the Civic Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s prestigious training ensemble for emerging professional musicians, shares its centennial with the CSOA’s series of concerts for children, the first of its kind in the nation and a model for today’s experiential musical education.”


Members of the Women’s Board congratulate Maestro Riccardo Muti. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Murley likened a gift from Tiffany to the gift of the artistry of the CSO and the memory it leaves behind: “a brilliant blend of creation and excellence.”

“Like the universally recognized blue box, when the Maestro raises his baton, he commands international attention and delivers only the best,” she explains. “As we untie the white ribbon, the Tiffany treasure is revealed, so too the extraordinary performances of our orchestra, which delight and transcend, giving us the finest of music.”


Civic musicians delighted Tiffany partygoers with a wonderful performance.


Women’s Board members Sandra Rusnak, Dora Aalbregtse, and Shelley Ochab, incoming board president, take a shopping break at Tiffany.

Terry Truax, a member of the Board of Trustees of the CSOA and managing partner of Jenner and Block, serves as the third Symphony Ball co-chair. Truax spoke with Women’s Board members recently, noting that he believes that “the partnership of the trustees and Women’s Board sends a very strong message to the musicians of their shared dedication to and appreciation of the Symphony, their outreach and commitment to a bold vision of enriching, inspiring, and transforming lives through music.”


CSOA trustee Bill Adams with wife Elizabeth, a past president of the Women’s Board.


Past and current Women’s Board presidents Katie Barber and Elizabeth Parker.

The Northern Trust is the Ball’s presenting sponsor. Elizabeth Parker is Women’s Board president, Helen Zell serves as chair of the Board of Trustees, and Jeff Alexander is president of the CSOA.


Women’s Board members celebrate the Symphony Ball and the 2019-2020 season.


Leslie Henner Burns and Ken Olsen, Assistant Principal Cello, CSO, at last year’s ball. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Held during the opening weekend of concerts for the Symphony’s new season, the night’s romantic musical program features the CSO and Maestro Muti along with internationally-acclaimed soloist Leif Ove Andsnes on the piano.

The evening also includes a sumptuous dinner with lots of dancing to follow at The Four Seasons, resplendent in Renaissance decor. Virtuoso vintages from private cellars, exclusive wineries, and Chicago’s finest restaurants have been donated for the Wine Pull raffle.


Cynthia Scholl and Mary Rafferty, co-chairs of the Symphony Ball’s Wine Pull.

While every ticket yields a wine selection, it might also yield magnificent jewelry and crystal items donated by Tiffany, as well as other surprises and gift certificates. Tiffany is also sponsoring the Anniversary Raffle in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Women’s Board.

Which begs the question: Who will open a very special little blue box and win the 16-stone signature Schlumberger ring at the end of the evening?


To learn more about the event and to purchase tickets, call Kim Duffy at 312-294-3162. For information on the CSO’s 2019-20 season, visit


Photo credit, unless otherwise noted: Emily Shepherd