You may or may not know the name Chris Pinelo but if you are familiar with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, then you know of Chris’ work. His presence is felt behind every news article and interview, social media post, and public appearance. Chris has been a member of the CSO staff since 2001, the past seven years as the organization’s vice president of communications.
He is also a husband to Tasha and father of a pretty adorable little boy who is featured in frequent ‘moment of zen’ videos on Facebook. Born in Illinois to a Cuban refugee father and the daughter of a U.S. Naval Commander, he learned many life lessons from them. They moved to Northern Kentucky before Chris’ first birthday so that may count as his being a native Greater Cincinnatian. After graduating from Highlands High School, he earned two bachelor’s degrees from Oberlin College. Most of his career has been centered around music. Before the CSO, he was the project manager for Cincinnati’s popular Pepsi Jammin’ on Main festival.
AND, he has a singing voice that can touch an entire stadium. You can watch him sing ‘Good Bless America’ for the Cincinnati Reds below.
Let’s learn more about Chris.
Lisa: Tell us some little known facts about you that people may not know about you.
Chris: My very first job was as a toy tester for Kenner, specifically for their Star Wars line. I was six and paid in toys.
I’m a trained opera singer and have performed as a soloist with the CSO for a Young People’s Concert. I’m also a past member of the May Festival Chorus and the Vocal Arts Ensemble, and sang “God Bless America” at the Reds game as a soloist on the 4th of July both in 2007 and 2008.
I appeared in a series of promotional videos on MTV in 1995 featuring the Jerky Boys.
I spent part of my junior year of high school in Peru and survived a terrorist bombing in Lima by the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).
I worked as a college admissions offer one fall and visited too many high schools to remember in virtually all points between Upstate New York and Lawrence, Kansas.
I once arranged disco songs for the acclaimed chamber ensemble, eighth blackbird.
I appeared as a college student in the movie, Little Man Tate. Since I was a college student at the time, it wasn’t a stretch.
Lisa: Tell us about an experience in your job that has impacted you in a positive way.
Chris: I had the honor and privilege to sing in the chorus for Erich Kunzel’s final concert on August 1, 2009 at Riverbend. He was suffering from cancer and not strong enough to conduct the first half, but came out for a truly magical set during the second half of the concert. He did it with such grace and humor and it’s a night I will never forget.
Lisa: Tell us about someone who has been a positive influence in your life and how.
Chris: My parents have been incredible role models. My late father was 17 when he fled from Cuba, not speaking English and without money or so much as a high school diploma. He managed to become a professor emeritus, published author, community volunteer and Fulbright scholar. My mother is a brilliant force of nature and both instilled in me a sense of adventure, a deep faith, intellectual curiosity and an unwavering commitment to family.
Lisa: What are some of your simple pleasures?
Chris: Music – all kinds of music. I also enjoy movies, baseball, good food, a fine bourbon and spending time with friends and family.
Lisa: How would you like for others to describe you?
Chris: I’d like to be thought of as creative, kind, responsible and funny…and a good storyteller.