With a three-mile traffic jam on I-90 and the entrances clogged with cars, people started arriving as early as 6:00 to find a place to sit.  It was hard to figure how the 4000 chairs in Central Court were going to be enough.  And, as it turned out, they weren’t.  That’s because this wasn’t just your average, run-of-the-mill pop star concert.  This was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and they had come to Woodfield Mall.

Sponsored by the Woodfield Merchants Association, the CSO, made their first-ever debut at a shopping center on Wednesday, October 2, 1974.  The concert began at 8:30 and was directed by assistant conductor, Henry Mazer. 

Fresh off a European tour—but with different music—the orchestra began their concert with the Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Strauss.  This was followed by the First Movement of the Hummel Trumpet Concerto with a solo performance by Adolph Herseth, who was principal trumpeter for the CSO for 53 years and has been recognized as one of the world’s best symphonic trumpeters.

Excerpts from Berlioz “Symphonie Fantastique”, variations on “America” by Charles Ives, the Fourth Movement of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and the Third Movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 were all performed. 

By the end of the 80-minute concert, the rows of listeners were three and four deep in the aisles and on the ramps.   The stores were empty.  And over 30,000 people—their largest audience ever—had heard the powerful Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform.

In the words of Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian:  “I attended the concert.  It was fantastic.  They performed Beethoven’s Fifth and it brought down the house.  I remember arriving early, several hours before the concert, so I could have a seat on one of the brick planters that surrounded the center court.  The acoustics were great.  If only they would come again.  I’ve never forgotten that evening.” 

Were you there?  Tell us what you remember.  It had to have been a magical evening.

Information for this article was gathered from the October 3, 1974 editions of the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune.

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