It is unfortunate that the average audience member frequently does not notice those people who act as “support” to the symphony orchestra of your choice. I’d like to pay homage today to someone who was the heart and soul of his organization.
I just learned that the Captain has passed away. I don’t mean the Captain who was associated with Toni Tennille for all those years. Rather I’m talking about Captain Willie Yates, the heart and soul of the security force at the Chicago Symphony. I don’t know when the Captain first came aboard at the CSO. All I know is that he was there for years by the time I got there in 1993, and he was there the last time I showed up a couple of years ago. Would that there were more people like him in our business.
If you could get him talking he had some fantastic stories. That’s not surprising, considering all the amazing musicians he looked after during his tenure at the CSO. Besides being head of security he was also a prestidigitator, an expression he much preferred to the rather mundane “magician.” If memory serves there are stories about him entertaining Georg Solti while on tour. I know I witnessed some pretty bloody good sleight-of-hand. This was always done with a wonderful gleam in his eye.
Everyone who worked at the CSO over the years new him and trusted him. He was profoundly generous and took his position most seriously. He was there to look after us, all of us. This he did to the utmost, with skill, patience, and humor.
Goodbye my friend.