CSO Cellist David Sanders to retire after nearly 50 years

By Keegan Morris |

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Studio portrait of cellist David Sanders, with instrument, in front of a white background

David Sanders (Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

David Sanders, cello, was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti in 1974. Now, nearly 50 years later, he is slated to retire on February 4, 2024. 

His final performance took place on January 29, at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, the culmination of the CSO’s European 2024 tour.

Sanders studied cello at Northwestern University and subsequently joined the Civic Orchestra, the CSO’s pre-professional training ensemble. As a student, he was mentored by legendary CSO principal cellist Frank Miller. He also performed as a member of the Grant Park Music Festival.

Following his studies, Sanders joined the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, then the Lyric Opera of Chicago, before being appointed principal cellist of the Orlando Symphony Orchestra. 

Soon thereafter, he reunited with Miller in the CSO cello section. He was the last active member of the legendary Miller-helmed cello section that lasted until 1985.

During his CSO tenure, Sanders served under music directors Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim Riccardo, Muti, and under the artistic leadership of Bernard Haitink and Pierre Boulez. 

David Sanders founded the Chicago Cello Society and appeared in the CSO’s chamber music series as a member of the Montagnana Trio.