Sensing a void in Chicago’s musical community in 1952, Dieter Kober assembled a group of eleven string players in an extemporaneous concert of Bach and Handel at the University of Chicago’s International House. More than six decades later, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra now numbers over thirty and is hailed as one of Chicago’s premier chamber ensembles.
Winner of the 1987 and 1989 ASCAP Award for Adventuresome Programming of Contemporary Music and voted 1989′s Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra is made up of some of the finest talent in Chicago. The CCO is eager to perform wherever a potential audience of music lovers might be lurking; accessibility was one of Dr. Kober’s founding objectives.
Throughout his career, he strived to make each concert an intimate and informal experience. By conversing freely with the audience, Dieter always proved that fine music is neither intimidating nor esoteric.
In 1989, at the invitation of the German government, Kober and his entourage toured the German Democratic Republic and became the first the first Chicago orchestra to perform in West Berlin’s esteemed Philharmonic Hall. The discerning European audiences held nothing but praise for the Chicago Chamber Orchestra. Other European highlights include performances at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus and Smetana Hall in Prague. Richard von Weizsäcker, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, personally welcomed the CCO in 1994 as the first American orchestras to perform in reunified Germany. Other international performances include a concert for more than 5,000 listeners at South Korea’s Se-Jong Cultural Center.
At home, the CCO has always enjoyed a warm embrace from Chicago. Throughout over six decades of festivals, concerts, premieres, and celebrations, the orchestra has appeared in some fashion on nearly every Chicagoland television and radio broadcast station, including a national broadcast of Beethoven’s 200th birthday celebration on the CBS network and the Command Performance of Danish music at the city’s reception of King Frederick IX and Queen Margaret of Denmark.
Other Chicago performances include those at St. James Cathedral, Lagoon Promenade Concerts at the Museum of Science and Industry, the Grand Opening of the Chicago Cultural Center, and the annual Mother’s Day concert at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Honored by proclamations from both former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Governor Pat Quinn alike, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra has always remained appreciated and supported by its home team. The CCO was honored to celebrate its 50th Anniversary in performance at Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park, and has made its residency through the years at both the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Cultural Center.
In 2003 the Illinois Council of Orchestras honored founder Dieter Kober with an award of Lifetime Achievement for his decades of work and commitment to the arts and music in the Midwest.
During the 2012-2013 season, the orchestra’s Founder and Music Director announced his retirement. On Sunday, May 12th, 2013, Dr. Kober literally passed the baton to newly named Music Director Robert Turizziani during the CCO’s annual Mother’s Day Concert at Fourth Presbyterian Church—truly a poignant moment in Chicago musical history.