A Fellows’ Reflection: April 24 – May 8

If mid-April signified a lull for the Civic Fellows, the increased pace of these past two weeks signaled a launch toward the end of the season.

Six fellows (all five string fellows and Kristin Perry on oboe) collaborated with Changing Voices, a creative youth development program run by Storycatchers Theatre, for their show “Real Power”. Changing Voices gives young adults with criminal records a chance to work for a paid theatre company. The shows were on April 30 and May 1 in community centers located in the neighborhoods of West Pullman and Englewood, respectively. The featured stories and lyrics were contributed by members of the company and the music was composed by their music director, Shawn Wallace. The fellows witnessed amazing work by the young performers and we contributed by playing our instruments and (impressive, I must say) acting.

Yo-Yo Ma returns in June to work with Michael Stern and the entire Civic Orchestra at Kenwood Academy High School. Fellows began preparing for this concert with a workshop presented by Harvard researcher Tina Blythe. Tina, a regular collaborator with Yo-Yo Ma and Michael Stern, introduced the fellows to new ways of creating connections within large, unfamiliar groups and helped us draft a plan for the Kenwood residency in June.

The Kenwood residency ties in to one of our fellow’s South Side group project. The Western Suburbs project team — consisting of Kristin, Midori Samson, Kenji Sasaki, Alex Schwarz, and myself — kicked off on May 4 with a writing and story collection workshop at The Scottish Home, an assisted living facility in North Riverside, IL.

As always with the fellows, there are many other activities happening at different stages. For example: my independent project with Lisa DeAngelis and the Alexander Technique held its final lesson; on May 12, Evan Hillis, Patrick Tsuji and I prepared for the first of three fellows’ shared recitals; the Civic Brass Quintet gave its final two performances of the season; and we all prepared students from The People’s Music School for end-of-the-season juries.

Just a little more than a month left!

By Kip Riecken

Cover photo by Todd Rosenberg