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(Image Courtesy: Chicago Symphony)

Three Long-Serving Chicago Symphony Members to Retire

Cellist Gary Stucka, assistant principal viola Li-Kuo Chang, and principal librarian Peter Conover will stand down at the close of the 2022/23 season


Three members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) are set to retire, each having given distinguished service to the ensemble. They are cellist Gary Stucka, assistant principal viola Li-Kuo Chang, and principal librarian Peter Conover.

Stucka has given 37 years of his life to the orchestra and was appointed during the tenure of Sir Georg Solti. He had previously played in a number of other orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra and the Winnipeg Symphony.

He began his studies at the age of eight and went on to learn from Leonard Chausow, who was then the CSO's assistant principal cello. Stucka has augmented his career with chamber music, having been a member of the Pressenda Trio since 1989 and appearing with the Chicago Symphony String Quartet.

Violist Li-Kuo Chang started out as a pianist and learned from his mother — who was a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He was inspired to become a violinist by the recordings of David Oistrakh and later switched to the viola.

Chang studied at The Juilliard School, the New England Conservatory, and the Eastman School of Music. He appeared with the CSO as a soloist a number of times, notably alongside Pinchas Zukerman in a performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6.

Peter Conover first began working in the CSO's library in 1984 as an apprentice. He has also served in the libraries of the Phoenix Symphony and the Houston Symphony and has been a member of the publications committee for the Major Orchestra Librarians' Association.

Conover has also made a number of appearances with the CSO as a guitarist, including 33 concerts featuring Mahler's Symphony No. 7.

"It has been an honor to represent Chicago with the finest musicians in the world and to travel to corners of the world," said Gary Stucka. "I never thought I’d be lucky enough to see Europe, Australia, Russia and Asia."

"As I bid farewell to my beloved Chicago Symphony Orchestra, I feel like I am the richest person in the world," said Li-Kuo Chang. "I have so many memories of the glorious music-making to treasure for the rest of my life! How lucky I have been to always work with the best conductors of our time and the most inspiring colleagues one can ask for."

"While not an onstage musician, it has been my great pleasure to bask from backstage in the adoration the CSO receives in Chicago and around the world," added Peter Conover. "In addition, it has been my honor to work closely with some of the greatest musicians in the world."

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