Andrew Patner writes:
The sudden and wholly unexpected death yesterday of Chicago pianist and artistic and organizational force Deborah Sobol is a terrible tragedy for her family and for music and community in our city. Over her 40 years here, Debbie co-founded and led the Chicago Chamber Musicians for 20 years, launched, led, and has been tirelessly expanding Rush Hour Concerts at St James (Episcopal) Cathedral and its educational programs throughout the area, and was the local instigator and anchor of the France-inspired annual Make Music Chicago day.
All of this while being a respected performer, sought-after teacher and studio director, and faculty member at Roosevelt University and other institutions. A source of joy, support, and inspiration to so many, and with her devoted husband, Dr. Rowland (Bing) Chang, a wise philanthropic figure and mother, it’s just impossible to imagine that she is gone in an instant. WFMT, with which she collaborated closely throughout her careers (plural), will broadcast a special program Friday following her memorial service.
Here’s a link to her full, busy life story. And here’s Debbie on the people who came to the concerts she organised:
At one concert a few years ago, a young woman came up to me. She’d just learned that she’d failed the medical board exams, and she was so distraught that she’d run into the nearest open church, which happened to be St. James Cathedral (Rush Hour Concerts’ Summer Series home). She told me that the music brought her back to herself, to the reality that she could take the exam again, this time with more experience. She left calm, restored and encouraged.
Then there’s the homeless man who comes neatly dressed every week, puts 15 cents into our donation box, and sits next to one of Chicago’s philanthropic icons (free admission means no assigned seats), discussing “what we heard last week” and “what we’ll hear next Tuesday.” He leaves connected and dignified.