Highland Park band to honor friend, late CSO concertmaster
Dr. Mark Nolan Hill, his daughter Linden, and famed violinist and CSO concertmaster Victor Aitay rehearse for a concert. Hill's band, Dr. Mark and the Sutures, will perform Saturday night in Port Clinton Square to honor Aitay, who passed away earlier this month. | Photo courtesy Mark Nolan Hill
Updated: September 17, 2012 12:09PM
Several Highland Park stalwarts will be honored Saturday night during a special concert in Port Clinton Square.
The local band Dr. Mark and the Sutures will command the downtown Highland Park stage from 7-10:30 p.m. in celebration of its 25th year playing in front of friends and neighbors.
Band leader Mark Nolan Hill, a Highland Park resident, is especially excited for the anniversary show. With founding band members Will Lonergan and Dave Steffen, the Sutures plan to rock in honor of one of Highland Park’s most accomplished musicians, Victor Aitay.
Mr. Aitay passed away at 91 earlier this month. The 40-plus year resident of Highland Park served the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for more than 50 years as a concertmaster, climbing CSO’s ranks from assistant concertmaster to concertmaster and 17 years as concertmaster emeritus before he retired in 2003.
Mr. Aitay had strong ties to Dr. Mark and the Sutures. He taught Hill’s daughter, Linden, to play the violin and also joined the band for some Beatles songs during two annual concerts.
“Myself, as well as my band mates, will miss him very much,” Hill said. “At this 25 year anniversary performance, I have invited all the musicians who had at one time or another helped out and played with the band. Almost all of them are coming for this event. They will all be acknowledged and perform all together with everyone during the evening.
“This is most meaningful to me.”
The show also will be dedicated to Robert Ballenger, a longtime Highland Park resident who has photographed Dr. Mark and the Sutures for more than 20 years.
“He was a great fan, although he had trouble with the volume,” Hill joked.
Hill also planned to honor local legislators — Lake County Board member Anne Flanigan Bassi, D-23rd; State Sen. Susan Garrett, D-29th; and State Rep. Karen May, D-58th — as all three are leaving office after representing Highland Park and the North Shore for many years.
There will be free cake and T-shirts during Aug. 18 show, and Hill plans to give a way a guitar signed by the band.