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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Canadian soprano Erin Wall, who died yesterday evening, October 8, 2020, following a long illness. She was forty-four.

Erin Wall in 2015 (Kristin Hoebermann photo)

Wall began her professional career in Chicago, as a member of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and in her first season there, she also made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a special New Year’s Eve concert. She most recently appeared with the Orchestra in December 2018, as soloist in Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs.

“I have wonderful memories of her collaboration in Bruckner’s Te Deum and of her great qualities as a singer and as a musician,” commented Riccardo Muti, speaking from Bologna, Italy. “There are no words for such a premature loss.”

A complete list of her appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is below.

December 31, 2001, Orchestra Hall
MOZART Temerari! . . . Come scoglio from Così fan tutte, K. 588
MOZART E Susanna non vien! . . . Dove sono from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
LEHÁR Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss from Giuditta
Carlos Kalmar, conductor

April 1 and 2, 2004, Orchestra Hall
NIELSEN Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (Sinfonia espansiva)
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Wayne Tigges, bass-baritone

November 17, 18, 20, and 23, 2004, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Egmont, Op. 84
Mikko Franck, conductor
John Mahoney, narrator

Erin Wall in 2015 (Kristin Hoebermann photo)

August 6, 2005, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor
Meredith Arwady, contralto
Joseph Kaiser, tenor
Robert Pomakov, bass
Milwaukee Symphony Chorus
Lee Erickson, director

July 18, 2009, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor Op. 125
James Conlon, conductor
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Morris D. Robinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

October 25, 26, and 27, 2012, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

June 23, 25, and 26, 2016
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Okka von der Damerau, mezzo-soprano
Steve Davislim, tenor
Eric Owens, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director

December 6, 7, 8, and 11, 2018
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Edward Gardner, conductor

A personal account of Wall’s journey with breast cancer, written by her in February 2019, is posted on the Canadian Opera Company‘s website, here.

Numerous tributes have been posted online, including Opera News, Chicago’s Daily Herald, and The Telegraph, among several others.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins our friends at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in mourning the passing of beloved Chicago actor John Mahoney. He died in Chicago on February 4, at the age of 77.

John Mahoney in rehearsal at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2008 (Chris Walker photo for the Chicago Tribune)

John Mahoney appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on three occasions, once at the Ravinia Festival and twice in Orchestra Hall, as follows:

July 14, 2001 (Ravinia Festival)
MENDELSSOHN A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
John de Lancie, Narrator/Puck and director
John Mahoney, Bottom
Janet Zarish, Titania
Timothy Gregory, Oberon
Stacey Tappan, soprano
Lauren McNeese, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee, director

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma set the stage. “It was a dream of a midsummer’s night at the Ravinia Festival Saturday, the kind of warm, clear evening just made for picnicking and listening to music outdoors. The music offered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrew Davis provided a perfect match. After intermission, the pavilion light dimmed and sprites with glowing wands flitted through the night as the orchestra, singers and actors including John Mahoney . . . as the bumptious Bottom [he was] an endearing monster.”

April 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21, 2002 (Orchestra Hall)
STRAVINSKY The Soldier’s Tale
William Eddins, conductor
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
John Mahoney, Narrator
Paul Adelstein, Soldier
Hollis Resnik, Devil
Tina Cannon, dancer
John Bruce Yeh, clarinet
David McGill, bassoon
Craig Morris, trumpet
Jay Friedman, trombone
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Edward Atkatz, percussion
Peter Amster, director and choreographer
Rafael Viñoly, stage designer

“Seizing the opportunity to do something different, the CSO teamed with Steppenwolf Theatre to stage The Soldier’s Tale, which Stravinsky wrote in 1918 as a theater piece,” wrote Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times. “Mahoney was the dispassionate Narrator and Hollis Resnik a fashionable Devil in a generally lively staging by Peter Amster. Zukerman and six CSO musicians, conducted by William Eddins, perched on a tall, black platform centerstage, while Mahoney, Resnik, Paul Adelstein as the Soldier and dancer Tina Cannon spilled around the set of raised platforms and a few props devised by Rafael Viñoly. . . . Amster and his colleagues created a compelling drama. . . . Relaxed, making no judgments as he chronicled the Soldier’s victories and defeats, [Mahoney] was a sympathetic guide to Stravinsky’s morality tale.”

November 17, 18, 20, and 23, 2004 (Orchestra Hall)
Mikko Franck, conductor
John Mahoney, narrator
Erin Wall, soprano

Again, Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times described the event. “Mahoney returned to Symphony Center Thursday night to narrate a rare performance of Beethoven’s complete incidental music to Goethe’s Egmont. Goethe’s play about a former loyalist fighting Spanish colonialism in the 16th century Netherlands was quickly forgotten, but Beethoven’s Egmont Overture has long been a concert hall staple. It was fascinating to hear it in its complete context, especially with the young Finnish conductor Mikko Franck honing in on the music’s noble bearing and expansive reach. . . . In the minimal staging devised by director Sheldon Patinkin, [Mahoney] managed to turn the obscure Egmont into a flesh-and-blood presence. With his straightforward delivery and Beethoven’s evocative music reinforcing each scene, he brought us glimpses of a brave soldier and king’s loyal administrator destroyed by political intrigue and despotism. The thirst for liberty is a recurring motif in Beethoven’s life and much of his music. Hearing the entire Egmont, the movie music of its day, was a reminder of how strongly Beethoven believed in that ideal.”

Numerous tribute have been posted online, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Timesand CNN, among others.


the vault

Theodore Thomas


The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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