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Reinhard and Sue Kruse - In the Spotlight

January 10, 2013

A Monthly Series of Donor and Patron Profiles

According to Reinhard and Sue Kruse, they have done three things right in their lives: marrying their one true love; moving to Philadelphia; and buying a condo in the Academy House in Center City.

As Dallas residents in the mid-1970s, Reinhard and Sue were faithful Dallas Symphony patrons—often traveling 260 miles round trip to concerts each month. However, when the ensemble suspended operations for a year due to financial problems they seized the opportunity to make a life for themselves outside of the South. According to Reinhard, The Philadelphia Orchestra was the main reason they chose to move here.

One of their first orders of business once in town? Signing up for a season subscription to the Orchestra. Over 37 years later, they now have two season subscriptions because according to Sue they “always have to hear each program, and some twice.” “The programs are always such a good balance,” says Reinhard. “We know there will always be something familiar that we really love and know well, and then something new that we would never have given a chance otherwise.” And of course, there is Yannick.

“Yannick is fantastic! He seems so open, friendly, engaging—he and the Orchestra have such a wonderful rapport, and you can just feel (and hear) it in the hall,” says Sue. Their Texan friends made bets on how long they would last in Philadelphia. It’s likely they have conceded by now. When asked if they ever miss the South, Sue replies, “Sometimes, I miss the bluebonnets in Texas during April and May. I can live without bluebonnets, but I cannot live without classical music.”

Sue and Reinhard both grew up with a deep love of music. While her family wasn’t particularly musical, Sue (then living in Louisiana) was bit by the music bug early on, playing bassoon in her high school band, singing in both her high school chorus and church choir, and taking piano lessons from second grade until her sophomore year in college. While not classically trained, Reinhard enjoyed listening to any music he could get his hands on.

The two met in college while attending Louisiana Tech, and bonded over their mutual love of music while enjoying the school’s regular concert series, which featured various local orchestras, ballets, and solo recitals. Their love for music, and for each other, grew. 

Reinhard and Sue married in December of 1963, the same year Reinhard entered into seminary at the Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. During his time there, oftentimes generous donors would offer seminarians free tickets to Dallas Symphony concerts. Sue and Reinhard gladly accepted and soon became season ticket holders.

Fast forward to March 1975, when Reinhard came to Philadelphia to interview for a transfer to the East Pennsylvania area, which eventually resulted in a ministerial appointment at St. Phillips United Methodist Church in Kensington. Almost immediately after the interview, he attended a Philadelphia Orchestra concert at the Academy of Music. “Half of our LPs were of the Orchestra, so I knew it was about time to hear it in person,” says Reinhard. To this day he still remembers the experience of hearing the Orchestra in the Academy. In fact, he enjoyed the performance so much that he went again the next day to hear it a second time.

Reinhard accepted his new appointment in May and just one month later, he and Sue packed their belongings and headed off to make a new life. Sue had never even seen Philadelphia until she glimpsed it from the front seat of a U-Haul truck. “It was either trust or stupidity, I don’t know which,” she says with a laugh. But it’s clear when talking to them both, they just knew it was the right decision, and that there would be no turning back.

Sue and Reinhard were afforded the opportunity to purchase a condominium at the Academy House in Center City—directly behind (and towering above) the Academy of Music and less than one block away from the Kimmel Center, which hadn’t yet been built. Sue jokes, “Reinhard was so in love with the Orchestra he wanted the Academy to cut a hole in their roof so he could install a fireman’s pole from our dining room window and slide right down to our seats in the Family Circle.” 

The two cannot say enough about their experiences with The Philadelphia Orchestra. For them Orchestra concerts are like visiting a large, loud, lively family. They know the ushers and Box Office representatives by name. “It’s a real family atmosphere,” Sue remarks.

And the performances themselves? According to Sue, the sound today is what they fell in love with years ago, and in some ways, is almost better than what they remember hearing on that first 33 1/3 record. They credit Yannick and the Philadelphia Sound for much of this. Reinhard explains, “There’s just a satisfaction that is indescribable; a sense that you’ve experienced something so meaningful and significant when you leave a performance. You can hear [how much we love him] in the applause that goes on for what seems like minutes, and it’s clear that the Orchestra loves him, too.”

When asked if they have a favorite instrument, Reinhard sums it up best (even though Sue thinks it’s cheating), “The symphony orchestra is my favorite. I know it sounds strange to say, but I prefer it over any solo instrument. There’s just an ‘oomf’ to the sound that you can’t replicate with anything else.” 

Beyond Yannick, there is much that the two are excited about this season. For Sue the Alexander Nevsky performance last November brought back memories of hearing it at the Mann Music Center for the very first time nearly 25 years ago in 1988, so it was very nostalgic for her. As for Reinhard, he is most excited about the all-Mozart concert this month. But they are both enjoying the increased exposure to new works this season, while they admittedly favor the classics by such composers as Haydn and Brahms. “We are willing to listen to any new piece once, and there have been some new commissions I have liked a whole lot,” comments Reinhard. He adds, “We always come out of concerts knowing that we have experienced something on a much deeper level than we could get anywhere else.”

They have heard many other orchestras and believe that each have their own distinct sound. But they always come back here, and are proud of what their “hometown” orchestra can do. “There’s just nothing like the Philadelphia Sound,” says Sue.

Even with their fierce loyalty to The Philadelphia Orchestra, they don’t deny the other resources for arts and culture that exist here. “The Free Library, the Museum of Art, all of these things make this city so wonderful to live in,” Sue says. And, of course, they just love how close they are to the Orchestra. Sue continues with a chuckle, “We’ll never get divorced because neither one of us is going to move out.”