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Charles Grode

President & Executive Director

Merit School of Music

Grode comes to Merit after 17 seasons at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, most recently as Vice President for the Negaunee Music Institute, the CSO’s education and community engagement division, which engages more than 200,000 students, parents and educators annually.

Charles Grode is a seasoned leader in arts and education, with more than 20 years’ experience in organizational, relationship, resource and staff development. He has served as a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s staff since August 1998. He was appointed a vice president in 2004, Vice President for the Institute for Learning, Access and Training in 2008 and Vice President for the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO in 2014.

The Institute was created under Grode’s leadership, and publicly launched in October 2008. As Vice President, Grode oversaw the Association’s learning and training programs, including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the only pre-professional training orchestra affiliated with a major symphony orchestra. Distinctive to the Institute under Grode’s leadership was the December 2009 appointment of internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma as the CSO’s first Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. Prior to working at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Grode worked at Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Suzuki-Orff School for Young Musicians.

Grode was born in Kaukauna, WI and holds degrees from Lawrence University and Northwestern University. He lives in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood with his wife, Heidi Lukas.

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