Chicago is a small town. It really is. It's like a bunch of small towns, multidimensional small towns . . . separate from each other, but all these different layers. I'm back in Chicago after a 20 year odyssey away. I'm a third generation Chicagoan, maybe fourth – depends on how you count.
My grandparents met here in Chicago in the 1920s. My mom grew up in the city. She used to go to the movies at the Davis Theater for a nickel, and I've been doing productions at the Davis Theater in the last few years. It's exciting to be back there.
I'm a conservatory-trained clarinetist. I was on the symphonic path . . . pursuing a career as a traditional orchestral musician. And somewhere along the line, I realized that that's not exactly what I wanted to do.
I wanted to find some way to be a musician that worked differently. I just got my appointment letter the other day from the dean at Loyola for a lectureship in computer science, with an interdisciplinary focus on technology and music.
I have a web app that I'm developing that allows people to perform as an ensemble by using a web app that runs on your phone. That means that it's really accessible and portable and allows people to participate in a musical ensemble experience, even if they've never touched an instrument or had a day of training in their lives.
And as I think about it, that's not that different from the experience I had in North Park when I was there. North Park Church was the reason we were [in this neighborhood]. And my earliest musical experiences were there, too. Chuck Olsen was the music director, Dagmar Sonsen was the organist, Jo Katter ran the nursery school program at North Park Church. There was a garden named for her on one side of Peterson school.
I believe she was the reason they had this amazing Orff Schulwerk program; it is this system of music education for very young children. Imagine a bunch of three and four year olds in a room, each kneeling in front of a xylophone, and you have like a rhythmic pattern that you play on . . . somebody else next to you is gonna be doing a slightly different pattern with other notes.The whole thing comes together as a composition where you're actually playing music as a group. Really cool.
So [my work now] it’s sort of building on that. It's like the further I go, the more I come back to my early roots.
I spent a little time, in college and after college, living in apartments in [other places], some really transient neighborhoods. It's like there were [sic] no deep cultural roots. [In North Park] it was, really . . . this is where we live. We're gonna be here; we're not just passing through.