Chicagoan Al Booth was a real estate executive whose great passion was for the arts and most especially music. He was also active in progressive political causes over the decades and was a founding member of the Business Executives Move against the Vietnam War which took him to Washington on numerous protests. In despair at the continuance of the war, he and his wife moved to England in 1972 where they lived for 3 years. It was in England that Al discovered the inspiration for two of the music programs he created on his return to Chicago.
Inspired by his experience of a sing-along Messiah in a parish church in Bromley, Kent; by the lunchtime concerts at the Bishopsgate Library in London; and by the National Gallery concerts given by Myra Hess in World War II London, he determined to create similar events in Chicago. He organized the first Do-It-Yourself Messiah at Orchestra Hall in 1976 and the first Dame Myra Hess Memorial concert at the Chicago Cultural Center in 1977. With the help of his friend, Yehudi Menuhin, he founded Live Music Now! in Chicago to bring professional musicians into the Chicago Public Schools.
Al retired as President of the International Music Foundation in 2001, but remained a stalwart audience member at the Hess concerts and Messiah until he passed away in 2007.