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Swift Bridge of Service  bandshell, date  (Chicago Tribune archive photo)

Eric DeLamarter and the Orchestra onstage at the Swift Bridge of Service bandshell, July 1, 1934 (Chicago Tribune archive photo)

A Century of Progress International Exposition—the World’s Fair celebrating the centennial of the city of Chicago—opened on May 27, 1933, and due to its immense popularity, was extended through October 31, 1934, attracting nearly fifty million visitors.

Beginning on July 1, 1934, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented 125 concerts at the Swift Bridge of Service, which linked the mainland with Northerly Island at 23rd Street. For ten weeks, the Orchestra regularly presented as many as fourteen concerts each week—a matinee at 3:30 p.m. and an evening concert at 8:00 p.m. every day of the week—only occasionally canceling due to extreme heat or rain and rarely repeating repertoire.

Weimer Pursell, silkscreen print by Neely Printing Co., Chicago

Image by Weimer Pursell (1906–1974), featuring the fair’s Government Building

Associate conductor Eric DeLamarter, who conducted more than two-thirds of those concerts, led the first program on Sunday afternoon, July 1. He conducted the Orchestra in Wagner’s Huldigungsmarsch, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Parlow’s arrangement of two of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances, Thomas’s Overture to Mignon, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien, Glazunov’s Ruses d’amour, and dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor.

Guest conductors included Jerzy Bojanowski, Carl Bricken, Henry Hadley, Sir Hamilton Harty, Victor Kolar, Karl Krueger, Anthony A. Olis, Frank St. Leger, Willem van Hoogstraten, and Henry Weber. Several Orchestra members were featured as soloists, including concertmaster John Weicher, viola Clarence Evans, principal cello Daniel Saidenberg, cello Richard Wagner, principal bass Vaclav Jiskra, and principal harp Joseph Vito.

Frederick Stock led the final concert on Saturday evening, September 8, conducting his transcription of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, Ravel’s La valse, his arrangement of the love scene from act 2 of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

This article also appears here.

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Gina DiBello

Gina DiBello

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra recently announced Riccardo Muti‘s appointment of Gina DiBello to the Orchestra’s first violin section. She previously had served as principal second violin of the Minnesota Orchestra and as section first violin with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, following studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music and The Juilliard School in New York.

Joseph DiBello (© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2010)

Joseph DiBello (©Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Gina is a Chicago native and has a deep connection to the Orchestra, as she also is the daughter of CSO bass Joseph DiBello (and Lyric Opera of Chicago violin Bonita DiBello), marking only the second father-daughter combination in our history.

Joseph originally studied the bass but initially pursued a career as a pharmacist. He later resumed his musical studies and from 1969 until 1973, he served as principal bass of Philadelphia Lyric Opera and the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. In 1973, he was appointed to the bass section of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and in 1976 Sir Georg Solti invited him to join the bass section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Lynne Turner (©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2010)

Lynne Turner (©Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Lynne Turner—currently in her fifty-first season as second harp—also is a CSO legacy, as she is the daughter of former CSO violin Sol Turner (1905–1979). At the age of twenty-one, Lynne was appointed in 1962 by then-music director Fritz Reiner, following her studies with Alberto Salvi in Chicago and with Pierre Jamet at the Paris Conservatory.

Sol Turner

Sol Turner

Sol Turner, a native of Russia, began his career as a violinist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 1927 until 1931 (serving as concertmaster in 1928 and 1929), followed by twelve years in the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Désiré Defauw appointed him to the CSO’s first violin section in 1943 and he served until 1949, when he left to perform with Chicago’s NBC studio orchestra. Sol returned to the CSO in 1963 and was rostered until his death in 1979.

Joseph Vito

Joseph Vito

But we also have to mention the father-daughter combination of Joseph Vito (1887–1970) and Geraldine Vito Weicher (1915–2006). Joseph served as principal harp from 1927 until 1957, and Geraldine was second harp from 1940 until 1957. However, during that time the position of second harp was hired only on an as-needed basis and was not a fully rostered position until the beginning of the 1957-58 season.

Joseph began his career as a harpist at the age of nine, and at twenty, debuted with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Emil Paur. He regularly performed with both the San Francisco and Cincinnati symphony orchestras before Frederick Stock hired him as principal harp for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1927.

Geraldine Vito Weicher

Geraldine Vito Weicher

Geraldine studied with her father, and she was a member of the Civic Orchestra from 1935 until 1938. She was also married to John Weicher (1904–1969), who spent forty-six years with the Orchestra from 1923 until 1969, serving as concertmaster, assistant concertmaster, principal second violin, personnel manager, and conductor of the Civic Orchestra.

Fathers and sons? Sisters? Brothers? Stay tuned . . .

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