Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia

Association History

Association History

July 2005: Justin Lee, PAC37, contacts Jonathan Nicolosi about starting a Chicago alumni interest group. A Yahoo! group and website are launched. The first announcement was sent on July 24, 2005:



Get the word out...there are thousands of Sinfonians in this town.
Don't be afraid to post to every listserv you are on. Just ask them to
go to and sign
right up.

Great to have you all aboard! I'm the Province Alumni Coordinator...if
you have ANY questions, feel free to ask!


Justin Lee
PAC 37



August-September 2005: Chicagoland brothers begin to introduce themselves via our emailing list. The proposition for the first gathering is made by Justin Lee on September 5, suggesting a date of Saturday, October 9.



October 2005: The first gathering is formally announced on October 1:



The first meeting for the Chicago Sinfonian Alumni Interest Group is planned for October 9, 2005 at 5 p.m. We will meet at Giordano's Pizza, 1323 W. Lake St. in Addison, just east of where I-355 meets Lake St. The purpose of this gathering will be to continue the Brotherly bonds of Alumni members in social settings. We also will discuss the potential to develop the interest group into an official Alumni Association. If you're interested in spending an evening out with Brothers in the area, RSVP by October 8th to or call 630-XXX-XXXX. Please visit for more on the group. We hope to see some of you there!

In Sinfonia,
Jonathan Nicolosi
Alpha Xi Alumni Secretary
CSAIG Webmaster


The first event is attended by Justin Lee (AΛ ’99), Jonathan Nicolosi (AΞ ’99), Christopher Folkens (AΞ ’01), and Steve Klaus (AΞ ’87). They had “a relaxing evening featuring mushroom, black olive, and green pepper-stuffed Giordano's pizza, many refills of selected beverages, and a showing of ‘Two for the Money’ at Marcus Cinema.”


The second event is suggested to the email group, and with some difficulty in finding a date that worked, the event was scheduled for November 19th, this time in Chicago in attempt to provide location diversity between city and suburbs. The event was announced on several group forums.



November 2005: The second event was held in Chinatown in Chicago on November 19th. Attending was Justin Lee, Jonathan Nicolosi, and Charles Williams (EΥ ’81). They ate and discussed recent changes to the Fraternity at Three Happiness and then toured the shops.



December 2005: Brothers attending the Midwest Clinic in Chicago spread word about the group at the Sinfonia display.



January 2006: The third meeting of CSAIG was held at Houlihan’s restaurant in Oak Brook, IL, on the 21st of January. Seven Brothers attended. Six of the seven were Alpha Xi alumni (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), which emphasized to those present that a there existed a need to expand the group beyond word of mouth to recent alumni. The plan to announce the next event using NEC funds appropriated for initial mailings by potential alumni associations is agreed upon.



February 2006:  1,100 postcards are printed, stamped, and mailed to alumni across the Chicagoland area. The mailing announced the April meeting and encouraged Brothers to join the group email list.






April 2006: The fourth meeting of the group was held on April 8th at ESPN Zone in Chicago, and with the publicity prodvided by the postcard mailing it was attended by 10 Brothers of varying ages and backgrounds. Among the attendees was Dan Krueger, who provided the group with information regarding the petitioning process.



May 2006: In an attempt to capitalize on the previous meeting, a suggested gathering on May 6 failed due to lack of consensus about time and location. The group email list went silent for the next 5 months between the end and start of school years.



October 2006: Recognizing that location is important to Chicagoland alumni, Oak Park – just west of Chicago – was announced as the location of the fifth gathering. With input from the group, October 29th was selected as the date and the Avenue Ale House was chosen as the location. Five Brothers attended.



A good place to go in Oak Park is the Ale House on Oak Park Ave.   They have good food and good drinks, just thought I would suggest this since I grew up there. 



Jason S. Steffen

Pi Iota Alumni '06



January 2007: Brother Steve Marcus (лаΥ ’76) suggested a musical gathering at his upcoming concert with the Chicago Brass Band as the group’s sixth event in February.



February 2007: Jonathan Nicolosi and David Lincoln attended the Chicago Brass Band’s winter concert on February 25th at Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton to hear Brother Steve Marcus and the band perform. The band had 5 Sinfonians in its membership at this time.


Brother Marcus informs the group of Dan Krueger’s Road Trip to Chicago in March.



March 2007: Dan Krueger presents his Alumni presentation to many Brothers at Rock Bottom Brewery on March 20th. Brother Krueger once again pledges funds to CSAIG for a postcard mailing and suggests having two summer events planned and listed on the card.


The CSAIG group is created in Sinfonia Circle.



May 2007: Group discussion solidified summer event dates and locations. Jonathan Nicolosi prepared the mailing and also sent an announcement to email addresses outside of the group list in an attempt to maximize response.





June 2007: With Brother Steve Marcus’ continuing support, he suggested the use of his place of employment, the Chicago Piano Superstore in Downers Grove, as the location of the summer’s suburban event. On June 29th, 9 Brothers attended to sing from the Sinfonia Songbook, followed by dinner across the street at Ruby Tuesday’s. The evening wrapped up at the Kopper Kettle in Elmhurst.



July 2007: The summer’s Chicago event was planned for a weekday in response to Brothers who had difficulty meeting on weekends. On July 25th, 8 Brothers attended the group’s eighth gathering at Rock Bottom Brewery.



October 2007: Justin Koszarek takes a lead role in organizing a southwest suburban event. The ninth meeting of the group was held on Thursday, October 25th at Brunswick Zone in Romeoville, IL.  In attendance were 4 Brothers who enjoyed an evening of bowling.



December 2007: The tenth meeting of the group was held on December 8th at Dave & Buster’s in Addison. In attendance were 10 Brothers, of which six represented the Pi Iota (Elmhurst College) alumni group. The location provided food and great entertainment in its arcade.



March 2008: Utilizing the national database of Chicago Sinfonians, a mass-email was sent to announce the eleventh meeting in addition to the group and province email lists. The group met on March 14th at The Green Mill in Chicago. In attendance were 12 Sinfonians, which made completion of the signature portion of the petition to charter an alumni association possible. Nominees were selected for the office of President. Jonathan Nicolosi was elected. Justin Koszarek was designated Treasurer and collected dues from members. The group moved on to Hopleaf, then to Konak’s Pizza and Grill, then back to Hopleaf. Total attendance among all locations totaled 14 Brothers.



July 2008: An informal business meeting was arranged to review documentation for the petition to charter an alumni association. Nine Brothers met to identify the group’s goals and to elect officers to the positions of Vice President (T.J. Houlihan), Secretary (Ray Holtz), and Committeeman-At-Large (T.J. Cox). Six more signatures were included on the petition. This meeting was held at the McCormick Foundation office at the Tribune Tower in Chicago, thanks to our host, T.J. Houlihan.



August 2008: The Chicago Area Alumni Association was chartered on August 18. Chartering members include: Keith A. Bartelmey, Frank D. Buono, Timothy P. Cox, Jr., Jeffrey T. Daeschler, Aaron B. Eckhardt, John D. Evans, Christopher T. Folkens, Charles R. Gebeck, Raymond J. Holtz, Thomas J. Houlihan, Thomas A. Kanwischer, Justin M. Koszarek, Andrew H. Levin, Jonathan A. Nicolosi, David W. Patterson, Joseph D. Russell, Christopher Simpler, and Charles A. Williams.



September 2008: The first official business meeting of the CAAA was held on September 22 at the Tribune Tower at 6:00 pm. The meeting mainly consisted of discussion on organizational matters, including mission statement, dues, determining meeting dates for the remainder of 2008, planning a chartering celebration, and developing a bylaw committee. In attendance were 9 Brothers. Socializing after the meeting was at Rock Bottom Brewery.



October 2008: The chartering celebration was held on Founder’s Day, October 6. Nine Brothers went to Bridgett McNeill’s and enjoyed lively discussion, food, and drink.


The monthly meeting was held on October 21 at the Tribune Tower at 6:30 pm. The primary discussion focused on review of the first draft of the bylaws. Dues were set at $50. Socializing after the meeting was at Noodles & Company.



November 2008: The monthly meeting was held on November 18 at Tribune Tower at 6:30 pm. On conference call were Dan Krueger and Matt Garber, who informed us about Midwest Clinic and asked the CAAA to help spread the word to local Sinfonians to increase awareness and attendance. A draft of the website was presented for discussion. Bylaws were edited further. Nine Brothers were present. Socializing after the meeting was at Billy Goat Tavern.



December 2008: The group participated in its first Mills Music Mission on Sunday, December 14. Rehearsal space was acquired at Roosevelt University. The MMM was at Warren Barr Pavilion, a Chicago nursing home. In attendance were 11 Brothers and one non-Sinfonian interested in bringing a chapter to Roosevelt University. After the MMM, the monthly business meeting took place at Fadó, during which the bylaws were voted on and approved.


On Thursday, December 18, 6 members of the CAAA were in attendance at the annual Sinfonia reception at the Midwest Clinic. The CAAA was recognized for helping to invite local Sinfonians.



January 2009: The CAAA met at the Red Oak Room at Cantigny in Wheaton, IL on January 17. Ten brothers were in attendance and snapped several “publicity photos” to use on websites and submissions to The Sinfonian. The first official dues deadline was on January 1; official membership is 10 brothers. Several in the group viewed the movie “Valkyrie” afterwards in Naperville.


February 2009: Jonathan Nicolosi, TJ Houlihan, TJ Cox, and Justin Koszarek presented a session at the February 7 Province 37 Workshop called “Continuing the Collegiate Experience.” Alumni brothers who were present for the evening’s Ritual served as the Initiates.



April 2009: TJ Houlihan, TJ Cox, and Chris Simpler attended the Province 37 Spring Fling on April 4.



May 2009: The monthly meeting on May 16 was held in Schaumburg at Ram Restaurant and Brewery. Seven brothers were in attendance. The meeting brought in new member Dave Nadolski. The group followed up lunch with bowling at Elk Grove Bowl, then proceeded to Woodfield Mall to Coldstone for ice cream.


On May 30, the group organized a “welcome to Alumni Membership” barbeque in honor of the recent graduates who plan to stay in the Chicagoland area. A great turnout of 14 Alumni Sinfonians, including three recent grads (Jeff Novak AΞ, Aaron Flatt ΔN, and Jonathan Wharton ΞK), came to enjoy burgers and bratwurst, bacci ball and frisbee, and an amusing attempt at keeping a hacky sack up in the air.



June 2009: Due to schedule conflicts prohibiting most members from attending the June 16 meeting and as a result being under quorum, the scheduled business meeting was turned into a social event for those present. The group of 5 trudged through the rain and went to Andy’s Jazz Club to hear music and share food.


An Executive Committee conference call was held on June 25 to address planning for the Annual Picnic and the anniversary social.



July 2009: On July 25, 10 Sinfonians (and 9 guests including family and friends) participated in the group’s first Annual Picnic at Cantigny in Wheaton, IL. People in attendance brought food to share and the CAAA covered the cost of the hamburgers, turkey burgers, and hot dogs. Many got the chance to walk through Cantigny’s gardens after eating. Jonathan Nicolosi and his guest stayed afterwards to listen to the DuPage Symphony Orchestra perform “A Tchaikovsky Spectacular,” featuring Symphony No. 5.


Brotherhood and music continued at Millennium Park on July 31 to hear the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus perform “The Dream of Gerontius” for free at Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival. Four alumni and one collegiate member attended.



August 2009: The CAAA celebrated its first anniversary at Goose Island Brewery in Chicago on August 18. The event gathered its largest showing of Sinfonians to date, with 15 alumni and three collegiate members participating. The event served as a fundraiser for the Sinfonia Educational Foundation (SEF). Brothers contributed $109, which was matched and doubled by the McCormick Foundation (thanks to T.J. Houlihan’s employment with the organization and his awareness of their resources). This allowed for a $327 donation to the SEF.



September 2009: The September 22nd monthly meeting recapped the successful summer events and planned the fall schedule. A highlight of the meeting was the start of a series of fraternal education sessions focused on revisiting the color night discussions. The evening concluded with a visit to the Billy Goat Tavern for double cheeseburgers.



October 2009: Founder’s Day was celebrated on October 6th, during which the full ceremony was conducted for the first time by the association. 13 brothers were in attendance. The social part of the evening was held at The Exchequer Pub.



November 2009: The Executive Committee met by conference call with Director of Alumni Affairs Dan Krueger on November 17 to discuss the upcoming Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic.


The Annual Meeting was held in Circle Hall at Elmhurst College on November 21. Elections were held for the 2010 term. Officers elected were President T.J. Cox, Vice President T.J. Houlihan, Treasurer Gregory Greenman, Secretary Norm Keller, and Committeeman-At-Large Jonathan Nicolosi. Following the meeting, the group dined at Gulliver’s pizza and Baskin Robbins immediately afterward.



December 2009: The CAAA supported the Midwest Clinic for the second time on December 17. This year, raffle prizes were donated to increase the allure of the raffle, including a gift certificate to the Sinfonia Store and some gift items from the store. Many local alumni attended to represent the Association. Afterwards, those interested went to the Exchequer Pub for dinner.



January 2010: A business meeting was held at McCormick Foundation on January 21. Officers were installed for 2010. The group proceeded to socialize at Giordano’s.



February 2010: A MMM was organized as a Valentine’s Day treat for the residents of the Warren-Barr nursing home in Chicago. Songs included Sinfonia-themed and traditional songs from the songbook. Red carnations were given to each resident in attendance after the performance. Brothers in attendance went to Dave and Buster’s afterwards.



March 2010: The March 13 event, planned as a suburban business meeting, became a social event due to a lack of required executive committee members. Brothers met at Giordano’s in Naperville for pizza and discussion about events occurring in the Province. TJ Cox and Jonathan Nicolosi met up with two late arrivers at Stardust Lanes in Addison for two rounds of bowling.



April 2010: Several members of the CAAA attend the Iota Chapter’s 100th anniversary celebration on April 30th. A business meet was held in the Iota house. President John Mongiovi attended the meeting to share his thoughts about the current state of the fraternity and to answer questions. Association members attended the initiation ritual later in the evening presented by the host chapter.



May 2010: A business meeting was held at the McCormick Foundation on May 25. Ten brothers were present. Members in attendance moved on to Elephant & Castle for socializing.



June 2010: The Executive Committee met by conference call on June 20 to discuss initial planning for the upcoming Midwest Convention.


Due to schedule conflicts, June 22’s planned business meeting became a social event at Andy’s Jazz Club.



July 2010: The CAAA and the local Evanston Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota held a joint social event at Ravinia on July 11. Houilhan and Cox attended.



August 2010:  An executive committee conference call was conducted via Skype on August 19.


On August 21, 12 Brothers gathered for a second time at Goose Island in Chicago to celebrate the anniversary of the Association. Official CAAA business cards were debuted and provided to members present to so they can help promote the association in their happenstance interactions with other local brothers.



October 2010: The CAAA celebrated Founder’s Day a few days late on Saturday, October 9. The group performed its ceremony at Roosevelt University on an unusually warm autumn day, then continued to celebrate the anniversary of our fraternity over food and drink at Bennigan’s. Of discussion note was Mark Crayton’s interest in rechartering the chapter at Roosevelt University and wanting to learn more about its past.


An Executive Committee conference wall was conducted via Skype on Sunday, October 17 to discuss Fall Sprawl and the Midwest Reception.



November 2010: CAAA had been working for the past couple months to host Province 37’s Fall Sprawl with local chapter Xi Kappa (VanderCook) in Chicago. Unfortunately, there were issues regarding the reservation of space that prohibited us from successfully carrying out the event. Fall Sprawl was cancelled. The event, scheduled for November 6, was also meant to be the day that the CAAA would hold its Annual Meeting, to occur during one of the session blocks at Fall Sprawl. Again, because space could not be arranged, the Annual Meeting was postponed.


The Annual Meeting was rescheduled for November 13, and held at President T.J. Cox’s apartment in Chicago. Discussions included the upcoming Midwest Reception and other upcoming Province and CAAA events. Also of significance was the election of officers for the 2011 term. They are President – T.J. Houlihan, Vice President – Chris Yung, Secretary – Joseph Ziegler, Treasurer – Jonathan Nicolosi, and Committeeman-at-Large – Norm Keller.



December 2010: The Sinfonia Reception at the Midwest Clinic on December 17th was facilitated by Dan Krueger. Several Association members were in attendance. The evening concluded at Exchequer.



January 2011: The first meeting of the year was held at the Helen Plum Library in Lombard. General business was conducted. Brothers moved on to a local pizza place to socialize.



March 2011: Several Brothers conducted a Mills Music Mission at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital in Chicago on March 5th.



Spring and Summer 2011 – Members Leave Chicago: The year did not progress well at the start due to sudden and frequent departures of many of our members from Chicagoland. Aaron Eckhardt, Province Governor, moved to Ohio. T.J. Cox, who recently was elected his replacement, moved to Texas. Our President, T.J. Houlihan, moved to New York. Our Secretary, Joe Ziegler, moved to Ohio. Chris Folkens moved to L.A. Chad Garvin went back to Oklahoma. Greg Greenman had previously moved to Massachusetts. The significant loss of members resulted in a lack of leadership and organization, leaving a large whole in activity during the first half of the year.



July 2011: A summer meeting was scheduled and announced for July 9th at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. This is the first event that the association paid to rent meeting space. Only Brothers Yung and Keller were in attendance; having not met quorum, the event was both invalid as an official meeting and a financial loss of the $48 room fee.


On July 30, a music social was held at Ravinia. Nicolosi and Keller brought their families as Yung and Delgrosso performed in the choir alongside the CSO in concert.



August 2011: A letter was drafted by Nicolosi to the membership reviewing the many departures from the Association and requesting involvement, as well as attendance at the upcoming anniversary celebration.


Dear Sinfonian Brothers of Chicagoland,


Question: What do Massachusetts, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, California and New York have that Chicago doesn’t?


The answer: 7 of the Chicago Area Alumni Association’s most active members.


The Association has been hit hard this year as a result of the loss of 7 of our most active members and participants. Among them are our current president and secretary, two former province governors, our former treasurer, and two other incredibly reliable men.


The Association needs to fill in some of these holes. We know there are Sinfonians out there who possess the same kind of vision and passion for Sinfonia as our departed brothers, and we are calling on those men to share that actively with the Association.


Since our group’s beginnings in 2005, we’ve seen many Sinfonians come and go – some still remain visible from a distance and others have disappeared entirely. What we need now is active commitment - brothers who can make the time to share in the responsibility of continuing the social and musical bonds our fraternity is founded on.


If you’re willing to help the CAAA continue to bring Sinfonia to Chicagoland alumni, then let’s see you at our upcoming meeting! We will be celebrating our 3rd anniversary with a dinner social on August 18th at 6 pm at Goose Island Clybourne in Chicago.


So let it be for Sinfonia!




The CAAA Executive Committee

Christopher Yung, Vice President

Jonathan Nicolosi, Treasurer

Norm Keller, Committeeman



The 3rd Anniversary of the Association was celebrated at Goose Island Clybourn on August 18th. T.J. Houlihan came by while in town.



September 2011: The annual cookout was held at Cantigny. 5 Brothers and some wives/children were in attendance… Chris Yung slept through it and didn’t attend.



November 2011: The Annual Meeting was held at Norm Keller’s house in Villa Park on November 19. Elections were held; President – Chris Yung, Vice-President – Andrew Levin, Treasurer – Jonathan Nicolosi, Secretary – Joe Benavidez, Committeeman-at-Large – Norm Keller. We proceeded to the Pi Iota initiation ceremony at a local Masonic Lodge, and concluded the evening at Gulliver’s for pizza.



December 2011: Lyrecrest decided not to host a Sinfonia Reception at the Midwest Clinic. The Association instead hosted a social at Exchequer on December 15. Norm Keller spent time at the Sinfonia booth at the clinic inviting Brothers into the Association and to the social.



January 2012: The first meeting of the year was held at Schaumburg Tennis Plus on January 14. Brothers brought in pizza and snacks, had we the service of our own bartender for the evening. Sean Delgrosso took the office of Secretary after our elected one decided not to continue in the role. Officers were installed, general business was conducted, and we prepared an audition tape of the National Anthem for local sports teams in hope of being selected in the future. After finishing up at the location with Beatles Rock Band, we went to Fox and Hound for drinks and socializing. The $195 rental fee for Tennis Plus was never cashed by the facility.



July 2012: Several brothers attended a Grant Park concert on July 28th. The summer cookout was held on July 29th ay Cantigny.



August 2012: The Association celebrated its 4th anniversary at Goose Island Clybourn. Twelve local brothers attended.


The first membership certificates were printed and distributed this month.



October 2012: Founder’s Day was celebrated at Pinstripes in Oak Brook. Food and bowling were shared, but no ceremony was performed.



November 2012: The Annual Meeting was held at the Bleeding Disorders Alliance Illinois office, hosted by Aaron Flatt. Elections were held; President – Jonathan Nicolosi, Vice President – Aaron Flatt, Treasurer – Norm Keller, Secretary – Chris Yung, Committeeman-At-Large – Sean Delgrosso. Brothers went to Greek Islands afterwards.



December 2012: Norm Keller and Sean Delgrosso made contacts with local alumni at the Midwest Clinic. The CAAA organized a post-Midwest Clinic social event at Exchequer Pub. Mark Lichtenberg, Mark Wilson from Lyrecrest/National Staff were in attendance. Chris Folkens also attended as he was on break in Chicago. 


...if you're still reading, we hope to provide a summary of events since 2013 soon.

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