Landmarks

July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Lend Me A Tenor, 2009

Lend Me A Tenor, 2009

As we’ve just wrapped up our 13th season, we decided to take a look back to see some of what we’ve accomplished since opening our doors in 2000.

We’ve had 5,054 performances of 674 different productions including musicals, comedies, dramas, new works, classics, concerts (of too many varieties to name!), dance, stand-up, improv, recitals, showcases, and student performances. We’ve sold just shy of 900,000 tickets to all those performances (894,385 tickets to be exact).

As a non-profit, we’re proud to have had 7,102 individuals and companies donate to us throughout the years. A big thanks to these generous folks – we truly couldn’t do what we do without your support.

Even with all these great accomplishments, we still believe the best is yet to come! We’re so excited for our 2013-14 season and can’t wait to share all the amazing shows we have in store with you.

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Metropolis Profile: Voice Teacher Tiffany Gates

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tell me how you decided to begin your career in music – how old were you, and how did you know you wanted this path? Was there a defining moment, or was it a longer process of internal recognition?

I knew that I wanted to be “a singer” from the moment I could talk! I never even had a thought about anything else I wanted to be, music was it and has been it my entire life. Because of my interest in music, my Mother took me to a local community theater to see a youth production. I fell in love with the thought and spectacle of theater. I remember seeing the child actors in the lobby after the performance and I just thought they were like famous people. At age seven I auditioned for my first play and got the part of “Dori” the dwarf in a musical version of “The Hobbit”.

What is your favorite thing about your instrument?

I think that the human voice in general is amazing. Each voice is different and can do different things in different ways. I love that singing is such a personal experience and each voice is unique to each person.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever visited as a result of your career – whether traveling for a performance, a teaching gig or for schooling?

In college, I performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

What do you say to students that are taking lessons, enjoy playing, but can’t see themselves pursuing music performance in college or pursuing it as a career after college?

I think that being a musician at any level is great! You don’t have to be Pavarotti to be classified as a singer. But, I say that if a person had interest to take private lessons at some point, music should be a part of one’s life always.

What sacrifices have you made in order to have the career that you now have?

Well, I certainly don’t have a “normal” schedule and late nights are the norm. While in High School and College, I didn’t have much time for TV or movies, so I’m a little behind in the pop culture aspect of life and I get made fun of for it. But, I wouldn’t change that for anything. I love the fact that I was able to study my craft and gain a lot of skills that I use everyday.

What about your career could you do without?

The competitive nature of the theater and classical voice worlds. I think that we all have our unique gifts and skills and singers should be more focused on their own personal growth instead of what everyone else is doing, getting cast in, or what organization they are singing with/for.

What about your career can you not get enough of?

I really can’t think of a thing! I feel like I get to do everything that I love at some level on a daily basis.

What music do you listen to in your downtime?

I know this sounds like a generic answer, but anything and everything – except country.

What other artistic endeavor do you spend time on?

I own my own business called Harmonious Horizons where I teach an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program called Music Together®. We have classes in Glenview, Northbrook, Skokie, and Wilmette. I really love teaching this program and being a business owner. I get to tap into the business side of myself that I didn’t really know was there.

What is your favorite field in the arts that you spend the most time appreciating (Painting? Theatre? Reading?)

Well, Music first, but then I would have to say Literature would be second. As an adult, I have really come to appreciate a well-written book.

What is your favorite piece of advice related to being a musician that you give? And have received?

To really love your craft and the voice you have been given. As singers, we have an advantage over other instruments in that we have the gift of language to add to the story of a song. The lyrics are so important and the way a singer shapes those words is the difference between a mediocre and spectacular performance.

Metropolis Profile: Guitar Teacher Brian Riggs

December 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Tell me how you decided to begin your career in music – how old were you, and how did you know you wanted this path? Was there a defining moment, or was it a longer process of internal recognition?

I was fairly older when I decided that I wanted to make a career in music – I was eighteen-years-old and a freshman in college. When I discovered the classical guitar and the music that could be played on it, I was hooked and knew that I wanted to learn to play this music and immerse myself in it as much as possible. This was a longer process for me, and it continues to the present day, I’m always discovering something new and finding something to get excited about.

What is your favorite thing about your instrument?

My favorite thing about the guitar is the tone, or sound of the instrument. The guitar has a unique voice, as it has a wide palette of colors and sounds that can be used in a single piece of music. While there are many aspects to learning to play the guitar, one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects is learning how to make a full, beautiful sound and learning to vary the sound in order to best express the music.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever visited as a result of your career – whether traveling for a performance, a teaching gig or for schooling?

One of the most interesting places I have visited is the south island of New Zealand while on a choir tour during college. The south island of New Zealand is accessible only by plane or by ferry, and I traveled by ferry from the main, north island and stayed on the south island for almost a week. The countryside was beautiful and the audiences were receptive and extremely welcoming to choir visiting all the way from Chicago. The shared love of music made it possible to form an instant connection with an audience halfway around the world.

What do you say to students that are taking lessons, enjoy playing, but can’t see themselves pursuing music performance in college or pursuing it as a career after college?

Music is a lifelong pursuit, and even if students are not planning on pursuing music as a vocation they can still benefit from the enjoyment and creative expression that making music provides. People can participate in musical activities even if they do not study music in college or play professionally. Choirs, community orchestras, jam sessions with friends are all opportunities to make music and connect with others.

What sacrifices have you made in order to have the career that you now have?

I have sacrificed having typical weekday hours in order to have the career that I have now, as most musical activities take place on evenings and weekends. Teaching guitar lessons means working when students are outside of school or work. This means less time at home with my wife during the week and sometimes having to miss events like concerts or performances during the week. This is a sacrifice that is easy to make to be able to work with music.

What about your career could you do without?

I could do without the traveling to different places throughout the week. Every teaching job that I work at is part time, so most days I am going to a different place and this often means significant commuting times.

What about your career can you not get enough of?

I cannot get enough of the enjoyment that comes when a student has that breakthrough moment when a technique or a concept truly sinks in. To see students improve and to see them grow as musicians makes all the commuting and evenings more than worth it.

What music do you listen to in your downtime?

I listen to a lot of classical guitar recordings, and if I’m studying a piece I will listen to a lot of recordings. In my downtime for enjoyment I usually listen to the Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia. I also like the music of bands like Arcade Fire and especially Radiohead. I enjoy bands that have guitar in them but maybe are not mainly focused on the guitar-playing. The musical ideas provide me with inspiration for own playing.

What other artistic endeavor do you spend time on?

In addition to playing the guitar, I really enjoy writing music. My wife is a soprano, so I like to write music for her to sing. Writing music allows me to learn more about other instruments, as I can get input from my musician friends about what will work and what will not on an instrument that I am not familiar with, like cello or oboe.

What is your favorite field in the arts that you spend the most time appreciating (Painting? Theatre? Reading?)

I spend the most time appreciating painting and the visual arts. I enjoy going frequently to the Musuem of Contemporary Art as well as the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute. Also, in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago there is a monthly event where artists open up their work spaces to display their projects. I really [enjoy] interacting with creative people and being inspired by their works. I often come away from these encounters challenged to find a way to connect with others in my own playing.

What is your favorite piece of advice related to being a musician that you give? And have received?

The favorite advice that I give about being a musician is that it requires a constant commitment. Sometimes it is easy to practice and work a lot when we are inspired or if an important performance is approaching, but it is equally important to practice and keep working on developing your skills even when you are not necessarily excited or inspired.

The favorite advice I have received is that the music is more important than the musician, which means that as musicians we should focus on expressing the music and connecting with the listener instead of trying to draw attention to ourselves. Doing this provides the enjoyment that will lead to a lifetime of making music.

Metropolis Profile: Viola/Violin Teacher Aimee Biasiello

November 22, 2010 § 3 Comments

Tell me how you decided to begin your career in music – how old were you, and how did you know you wanted this path? Was there a defining moment, or was it a longer process of internal recognition?

I knew I was going to go into music since high school. It wasn’t until I was getting my Master’s degree that I realized how young I was when I decided to make such a huge decision. It takes so much work to get into music school that you have to decide early on, so you have time to get ready. There was no defining moment, I just always knew.

What is your favorite thing about your instrument?

I love the viola. It is under appreciated, and often over looked! It also has such a unique sound because its dimensions are not standard, unlike the violin and cello.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever visited as a result of your career – whether traveling for a performance, a teaching gig or for schooling?

Cassalmaggiore, Italy. I went to a summer music festival there, where I had the opportunity to perform as a soloist and as a chamber musician.

What do you say to students that are taking lessons, enjoy playing, but can’t see themselves pursuing music performance in college or pursuing it as a career after college?

Being a professional musician certainly has its merits, but being an amateur (which contrary to popular belief actually means, a lover of something) is just as wonderful. Playing music without the pressure of rehearsals, competitions, and performances is just as fulfilling as making it your job. I would encourage students to keep it up, and explore the art of making music for themselves.

I teach music not so that my students will major in music, but so that they will be sensitive, understand humanity, recognize beautiful things, have pride in themselves, and be compassionate human beings.

What sacrifices have you made in order to have the career that you now have?

Being a professional musician demands much of your time, and is a huge commitment. Because of the amount of work it takes, and the competitive nature of the field, I had to make the decision to go this route when I was 16. This definitely impacted my social life! I also went to a music conservatory for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees which meant that I only studied music at school. Looking back, I wish I would have had time to pursue other areas of interest, but I am finding time to do those things now!

What about your career could you do without?

I feel like the classical music community has done a poor job of making our music accessible to the majority of people in the world. I have a problem with closed-minded musicians, who don’t don’t realize how important it is to expose non-musicians to the power of classical music!

What about your career can you not get enough of?

My students! Each of them is so different and unique. I love learning about them. I also usually leave work in a better mood than when I came!

What music do you listen to in your downtime?

Jazz Standards. I love Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan. I also love Glee!

What other artistic endeavor do you spend time on?

I am a founding member of a classical quintet, Chicago Q Ensemble. We are a non-profit organization whose mission is to transform individuals lives through performance, education, and collaboration. We also present educational programming that connects classical music to the lives of young people. This group is a huge part of my life and another avenue with which I can express myself.

What is your favorite field in the arts that you spend the most time appreciating (Painting? Theatre? Reading?)

I love Musical Theatre and Reading.

What is your favorite piece of advice related to being a musician that you give? And have received?

Every week leaving my violin lessons as a child, my teacher would say “Work hard, Kiddo” That has always stuck with me, and I find myself saying the same thing to my students each week.

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