Featured image for post: Remembering Paul R. Judy, Chicago Philharmonic Board Chairman Emeritus

Remembering Paul R. Judy, Chicago Philharmonic Board Chairman Emeritus

In memory of our widely admired Chicago Philharmonic Board Chairman Emeritus, Paul R. Judy, we reflect on the mark he left not only on Chicago Philharmonic but the entire symphonic field.


Paul, who passed away on February 24 at the age of 93, was an incredibly talented business leader and tireless advocate for orchestral music. He was wholeheartedly committed to the success of Chicago Philharmonic as both Board Chairman and primary benefactor.

Paul Judy


Paul formally joined Chicago Philharmonic in 2010 as an advisor to spearhead the orchestra’s unique organizational structure. In 2012, Paul, working together with Executive Director Donna Milanovich, formalized the Chicago Philharmonic’s unique, ground-breaking structure of a musician-governed society supported by active membership of both musicians and community leaders. The Society described itself as a “community of musicians,” where world-class orchestral musicians were encouraged to participate in the leadership and development of the entire organization. Chicago Philharmonic has subsequently been recognized as a successful alternative to the traditional “top-down” governance model.

“[Orchestras are often] very structured, traditional and fixed,” Paul said to Crain’s Business Chicago in 2012. “Orchestra halls are wonderful and lovely, but you confine your audiences. You need to play where people are, in central communities.”


Terell Johnson, Paul R. Judy, & Tom Manning

Under Paul’s stewardship, Chicago Philharmonic thrived, solidifying its reputation as a dynamic force in the symphonic music landscape with 500+ musicians employed annually. Chicago Philharmonic is now a key part of Chicago’s music ecosystem, making the city a viable option for world-class musicians.

Paul also spoke to the importance of innovative programming, which has become Chicago Philharmonic’s cornerstone: “You need to have engaging music. Not all music is symphonic.”

In 2017, Paul continued his legacy of generosity and prescience by founding the Mary Ann and Paul R. Judy Organizational Excellence Fund. This fund has contributed to the long-term health of The Chicago Philharmonic Society and provided crucial support during the 2020 pandemic. His legacy also remains in the leaders he has mentored over his prolific career, including current Board Chairman Tom Manning, who began working with Paul 45 years ago.

“Paul’s visionary leadership, his incredibly high standards, and his emphasis on collaboration have driven our success as an organization,” says Tom Manning. “We plan to continue his legacy of excellence. He will be deeply missed by our entire community.”

In lieu of flowers or gifts, Paul’s family has suggested that donations go to the Mary Ann and Paul R. Judy Organizational Excellence Fund to benefit the Chicago Philharmonic. We greatly appreciate this thoughtful gesture by the Judy family. Thank you.

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