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Robert Rada at the CSO Alumni Association reunion, November 30, 2012 (Dan Rest photo)

The Chicago Symphony mourns the loss of Robert Rada, a member of the Orchestra’s trombone section from 1954 until 1957. He died in Hilton Head, South Carolina on February 17, 2019, at the age of 88.

Born on the south side of Chicago on August 14, 1930, Rada began playing the cornet in grade school, later adding the trombone in high school at the Farragut Career Academy. He performed with the Youth Orchestra of Greater Chicago and studied with Chicago Symphony Orchestra members David Anderson (trombone, 1929-1955) and Arnold Jacobs (principal tuba, 1944-1988). While attending the University of Chicago and Chicago Musical College, Rada was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 1948 until 1950.

During the summer of 1950, Rada was a member of the Denver Symphony Orchestra, performing on several occasions under the baton of Igor Stravinsky. Later that same year through the fall of 1954, Rada attended the United States Military Academy as a member of the West Point Band. While at West Point, he studied with Neal DiBiase, principal trombone of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, and he also performed as an extra with the ensemble on two occasions under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. During his years at the academy, Rada met his soon-to-be wife Lindsley Burnham, and he also developed a strong interest in aviation.

In 1954, Rada was invited by Fritz Reiner to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he would serve through the 1956-57 season. His love of airplanes eventually led him to start his own aviation company, in which he sold corporate business jets. Rada occasionally subbed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and performed with the Kennett Symphony in Pennsylvania, and later he also was a member of the Hilton Head Orchestra. He was a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

When interviewed for the Rosenthal Archives’s oral history project in 1995, Rada reflected on his years in the Orchestra under Reiner: “He made phenomenal music and he did it in a demanding way. He may have ruled with fear, but he produced a quality of music that I have never experienced before or since.”

Rada is survived by his wife of nearly sixty-four years, Lindsley; his three children; David (Sally), Paul (Anna) and Gretchen Willingham (John); and six grandchildren, Pamela, Michael, Molly, Madison, Sawyer, and Payton. A memorial service will be given on March 9, 2019, at the TidePointe Clubhouse (arrangements through Island Funeral Home and Crematory). An obituary also is posted here.

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association offers a variety of internships in all departments, and we are always lucky to engage young, smart, and eager individuals—current students and recent graduates—from all disciplines. Working here can provide an in-depth look at not only the Orchestra’s rich history but also insight into the day-to-day operations of a performing arts organization. We recently reached out to former Rosenthal Archives interns to see what they have been up to . . .

Stephen Abitbol

A digital cinema graduate from DePaul University, Stephen Abitbol processed audio and video recording collections in the archives. “It was incredible to see how much dedication, love, and patience it takes from each musician to work as a whole to create a unique sound. It helped me understand how important it is to work as a team in my personal and professional relationships to grow together.” Stephen currently lives in Haifa, Israel, working as a digital marketer in a variety of startups. This fall, he is a full-time student there in language school to learn Hebrew.

Kathryn Antonelli

After her recent tenure in the archives, Kathryn Antonelli completed internships at Princeton University and the University of Hawaii, working with born-digital and moving-image collections. “Working at the CSO was what opened the doors to these amazing new experiences, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to spend a season there.” She will soon graduate from the University of South Carolina with her master of library and information science degree (MLIS) and plans to reside and work in Philadelphia.

Sierra Campbell

Sierra Campbell completed degrees in fine arts from Harold Washington College and English literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago before earning an MLIS degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Working at the CSO impacted both my personal and professional paths, as I was able to meet the friendly employees and volunteers. They were all so gracious and willing to help out in any way, and no act of recognition was too small to have been noticed.” Sierra currently works at Fox College, managing libraries on two campuses.

Kerry Fulara

Kerry Fulara earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State University and an MLIS (with a specialization in archives, preservation, and records management) degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Following her internship, she worked with Rush Hour Concerts and formally established its archives. “My time at the CSO taught me the importance and benefits of networking, connecting with people, and building relationships.” Kerry later worked as a records manager and now as a real estate analyst with Invenergy. Continuing her archival work, she currently volunteers with the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, developing its restoration archive.

John Garvens (Sarah Pemberton photo)

Since working in the archives, John Garvens has transitioned from music to retail to fitness to software to advertising to consulting while serving in the U.S. Army Reserve as a trombone player from 2004 until 2016. He especially remembers two visitors to the archives, Yo-Yo Ma and Pierre Boulez. “Both men were musical heroes of mine; it was an honor to meet them. It also was really cool to archive the media from Riccardo Muti’s earliest years with the CSO.” John earned a bachelor of music degree in trombone performance from Illinois State University.

Matthew Greenman (reverb.com photo)

Matthew Greenman completed a bachelor of music degree in performing arts management from DePaul University in 2016 before his CSO internships in the archives and the marketing department. “My time in the archives greatly enhanced my organizational skills, formed my fascination of and appreciation for the orchestra, and rekindled my love of live music.” Matthew later worked as a listings coordinator at reverb.com in Lakeview, and he is preparing to take the exam to join the New York City Fire Department.

Andrew Lyon (E. Lyon photo)

After earning his bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance from Illinois State University, Andrew Lyon joined the staff, processing and cataloguing the Margaret Hillis score collection. He later completed a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Butler University and has since returned to the archives on numerous occasions to utilize the score and audio collections. In the archives, “once you’re a part of it, you’re a part for life. You have your own page in the CSO history books.” Andrew currently is artistic and music director of The 65th Street Klezmorim and on faculty at Ivy Tech Community College.

Elliot Mandel (Dawn Mueller photo)

Before working for the American Library Association and Rush Hour Concerts, as well as writing classical concert reviews for local websites, Elliot Mandel graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Bradley University. “I loved my time in the archives, getting to know the rich history of the orchestra that I have enjoyed seeing perform since I was a kid.” He has since started his own photography business, where his clients include the Chicago Children’s Choir, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, Kurt Elling, Spektral Quartet, and the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago.

Brian Maloney

“Working in the archives taught me an appreciation and understanding for how people can work together to create one cohesive production for all to enjoy and always instilled in me a deep sense of awe and respect for the CSO’s rich historical tapestry,” remembers Brian Maloney, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Saint Xavier University. He currently holds multiple band director and instructor jobs in the Chicago suburbs, with School District 95, Divine Providence School, Soli Deo Gloria Brass Band, and Evergreen Park Community High School.

Shridar Mani

Shridar Mani completed a bachelor’s degree in music (with honors) from the University of Chicago while an intern in the archives, where one of his projects was processing and cataloguing a collection of manuscripts by Chicago composer William Lester (see here and here). After graduation, he returned home to Singapore where he has worked for the past several years as a programming officer at the Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, producing a wide variety of concerts in all genres. “Working at the CSO helped me realize that working in the arts was a calling, and it has led to my career for the past six years and many more to come.”

Charles Russell Roberts (Mike Grittani photo)

With degrees from the University of Florida and the Eastman School of Music, Charles Russell Roberts currently is finishing a master’s degree in performing arts administration at Roosevelt University. “The archives internship was my first foray into working at a cultural institution in a capacity beyond the stage, and it gave me a deep understanding and respect for the integrity and preservation of not only physical archives but also the importance of records and data in understanding how an organization changes over time.” Charles—also an alumnus of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago—currently balances a full-time job as a project manager with Grenzebach Glier and Associates with performances with the Gaudete Brass Quintet.

Andrew Song

Before completing a bachelor of arts degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago, Andrew Song worked at the CSO as an archives intern and patron services associate. “I gained strong insight into how a large organization can foster meaningful long-term relationships with its patrons as well as nurture its community through education and outreach . . . I also realized, for the first time, the greater institutional sense of community oriented self-efficacy: a pride that I was part of a great organization that made such fantastic concerts possible for the sake of our audience members.” Andrew currently is a student at Harvard Medical School.

Gregory Starr

“Working with the archives really strengthened my attention to detail,” remembers Gregory Starr, whose internship helped fulfill a class requirement for his bachelor’s degree in music business from Western Illinois University. Once after assisting with an exhibit, he mentioned that he “enjoyed getting to see more of our own collection and getting to show it off to others.” He continued to volunteer with the CSO as he worked toward a degree in digital forensics and network security at Elgin Community College, and he recently took a position as a technology support specialist—concentrating on networking troubleshooting and architecture—at The Packaging Wholesalers.

Jack Vishneski

Jack Vishneski studied history (with minors in ethnomusicology and music) at Beloit College and was working as a freelance audio engineer and singer when he began his internship in the archives, where he learned about “the value of cultivating institutional memory, especially as a key component of the storytelling needed to (at minimum) survive and (one hopes) thrive in the non-profit arts sector.” Jack completed a master’s degree in musicology from the University of Minnesota, and he and his wife are expecting their first child in November.

Joe White

Following his internship in the archives, Joe White earned a master’s degree in composition from the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College and has been active in the New York music and theater scene ever since. “Working at CSO right after undergrad was very affirming on many levels, as it provided confirmation that I wanted to seek out, and participate in, artistic communities. I learned that there was a place for me professionally and personally in my post-academic life.” His most recent work is the score to Alex Borinsky’s Clubbed Thumb play Of Government.

Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson completed her MLIS from Dominican University before starting her internship in the archives. “The CSO was the most amazing place to intern because I could marry my love of music with history and archives. It is also very hard to describe what it feels like to be going about your day with the life mask of Beethoven sitting on your work surface and watching over your every move!” Now residing in Houston, she freelances as a webmaster and researcher, and she currently is assisting a new company with planning and implementing its corporate archives. Cassandra also is personal assistant to her sister—opera singer and recent Richard Tucker Music Foundation award recipient—Tamara Wilson.

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Helen Kotas

In 1941, Frederick Stock appointed Helen Kotas to the position of principal horn, making her the first woman to hold a rostered position in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She was the first female to secure such a position—in fact, the first woman to be hired as principal of any section, except harp—in a major U.S. orchestra.

While still a student, earning a degree in psychology from the University of Chicago (which she received in 1936), Kotas served as a member of the Civic Orchestra and principal horn in the Woman’s Symphony Orchestra. Stock hired her as a regular extra horn at the beginning of the Orchestra’s fiftieth season in 1940, although she was not under contract. In 1940 and 1941, Kotas performed in Leopold Stokowski’s All-American Youth Orchestra’s summer tours; also in 1941, Fritz Reiner offered her the third-chair seat in the horn section of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Oct 1941 (Pottag, Erickson, Mourek, Verschoor, Kotas

Kotas surrounded by the rest of the horn section in October 1941: Max Pottag, Frank Erickson, Joseph Mourek, and William Verschoor

Shortly after her audition in Pittsburgh, Stock auditioned Kotas for principal horn to fill the vacancy left by Philip Farkas when he left to join the Cleveland Orchestra. Stock offered her the job and contacted Reiner, who agreed to release her from the Pittsburgh commitment. Kotas would serve as principal until 1947, when Farkas returned to the Orchestra. She moved to third chair for one season and left the Orchestra in 1948; she married University of Chicago pathologist Edwin Hirsch the following year.

Kotas later was principal horn of the Grant Park Orchestra from 1950 until 1958, and she also served as principal horn of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra from 1954 until 1959, and third horn until 1965, after which she largely retired from performing.

The first woman listed on the Orchestra’s roster was Mrs. Lawrence (Anna) Winch, second harp for the 1892–93 season. Other women subsequently performed as second harp; however, the position was not contracted and rostered full-time until the beginning of the 1957–58 season, when Carol Baum was hired as second harp. The first rostered woman in the string section was cellist Alice Lawrence in the 1942–43 season, and the first in the wind section was flutist Caroline Solfronk Vacha in the 1943–44 season.

This article also appears here.

A first edition piano/vocal score

A first edition piano/vocal score of Verdi’s Requiem from the Theodore Thomas Collection

To the best of our knowledge, Theodore Thomas, our founder and first music director, never conducted Verdi’s Requiem with the Chicago Orchestra (as we were known from 1891 until 1905). Prior to 1891, there is documentation indicating that Thomas first led the Requiem on May 1, 1884, with his Theodore Thomas Orchestra and the Oratorio Society of Baltimore, given at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore, Maryland, among other performances.

According to Thomas’s catalog, he had two full scores for the Requiem in his collection. One manuscript score (in an unknown hand) was deposited at the Newberry Library by Thomas’s widow Rose Fay in 1905; the second score is presumed lost. Here in the Rosenthal Archives we have a complete set of parts, some printed with manuscript inserts and some completely in manuscript, along with a first edition piano/vocal score, shown here, that was later recovered from materials left at Thomas’s summer home in New Hampshire.

Cover for a viola part

Cover for a viola part including Maurice Strakosch’s signature

All of the orchestral parts bear the signature of Maurice Strakosch. A pianist and impresario of Bohemian descent, Strakosch purchased “an orchestral score and performance material” from Casa Ricordi in November 1874 (according to the notes in the University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi critical edition of the Requiem).

Strakosch studied with Simon Sechter at the Vienna Conservatory, toured Europe as a pianist, and came to New York City in 1848. He played concerts there under the management of Max Maretzek, but by 1856 he was active mainly as an impresario. Strakosch became associated with tenor Salvatore Patti and his daughters (Adelina, Amalia, and Carlotta) in New York and eventually married Amalia. He also coached Adelina from her concert debut at the age of eight in 1851 and also later managed her career. From 1852 until 1854 he toured the United States with Amalia, Adelina, Ole Bull, and a teenaged Theodore Thomas. Strakosch was connected with several other musicians and impresarios and eventually managed his own company from 1856, which merged with that of Bernard Ullman‘s in 1857 to form the Ullman-Strakosch Opera Company (for which Thomas was concertmaster and occasionally an assistant conductor), later merging with the New York Academy of Music.

manuscript insert for the revised Liber scriptus

manuscript insert for the revised Liber scriptus in the first violin part

But back to the set of orchestral parts. According to the University of Chicago/Casa Ricordi documentation, the set of manuscript parts in the Rosenthal Archives: “were clearly prepared before 1875, as they include the original ‘Liber scriptus’ (1874). Most also have as a later insert (of uncertain date) the definitive ‘Liber scriptus’ (1875): these inserted pages are written on paper produced by the New York firm of Carl Fischer. As noted in the introduction to the score, on 9 November 1874 Ricordi informed Verdi that performing materials had been sold to one of the Strakosch brothers. . . . How they found their way into the Chicago Symphony Orchestra collection has not been determined, although it is possible that they belonged to the musical library of Theodore Thomas. . . . From players’ annotations, however, it is apparent that these parts were used for performances even after Ricordi issued printed parts in 1913.”

First trumpet part for the beginning of the Tuba mirum

First trumpet part for the beginning of the Tuba mirum

All four bassoon parts for the  first part of the Libera me

All four bassoon parts for the first part of the Libera me

Cello and bass part for the conclusion of the Sanctus

Cello and bass part for the conclusion of the Sanctus

Detail from the third trombone part

Detail from the third trombone part

Presumably, this set of parts was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first documented performance of the Requiem given at Northwestern University Gymnasium on June 4, 1910, as part of the annual North Shore Festival, as well as numerous subsequent performances. There are also several indications that these parts were used for the first performance at the Ravinia Festival in 1951 as well as the first subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall in 1952. One of those indications, shown in this image at right, confirms this: when details for this set of parts was being entered into our database, the cataloguer indicated: “squashed bug removed from 3rd trombone part, noted as killed at Ravinia, 1951.”

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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

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