While I was walking to an offsite event at the Woman’s Athletic Club – the historic, French-style classical building located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile – I received a message that the CSO had reached a contract agreement and would be back in Symphony Center in a matter of days. The very kind, generous, and wonderful Paul and Lisa Wiggin were hosting us that evening, for what was now surely to be a far more celebratory event than it seemed it would be just moments earlier. The near seven weeks leading up to this event were a period of great confusion and uncertainty for all that were involved. Seeing my colleagues again was very refreshing. It was a reminder of all the great people I have gotten to share a stage with these last two seasons, and all the great things we’ve done together.
Staying productive during these unstructured weeks without work proved more difficult than one might imagine, so returning to our regular schedules was a breath of fresh air. My group project within the fellowship entailed designing seven workshops on the Northside of Chicago. We worked with patients at Chicago Methodist Senior Services Memory Care facility. The work was nearly complete at this point, and we finished the process by joining a fundraiser designed to increase the amount of music used in all aspects of its care – a wonderful cause! After seven weeks of designing interactive music sessions for patients in the memory care ward (singing songs, using simple instruments, and creating conversations throughout the process), it was extremely gratifying to be able to stand in front of an attentive audience to explain the importance of this work and what it meant to us. Just as we ended each session with the residents, we concluded our presentation at the fundraiser by singing Amazing Grace together. What followed our singing was a bevy pledged donations. It was humbling and gratifying to know that our presence and words had an actual impact on Chicago Methodists’ ability to fundraise; it reinforced our belief in the efficacy of music as a legitimate and important form of care.
The fellowship wrapped-up our work with the yearlong CSO-Connect project with a culminating event hosted by Sullivan High School. After taking our fully memorized, [very] choreographed, hour-long interactive performance into 14 Chicago Public Schools, we completed the project with two days of performances created by the students themselves. Seeing all the hard work and care put into these performances and hearing that we were able to inspire a portion of it with our work was incredibly gratifying for all of us.
Finishing any project can be a bittersweet moment, and there is no doubt that as I wrap up my time in the Civic Fellowship that it will be one as well. However, just as it was during my two seasons here, the completion of one project will lead to the start of another.
By Civic Fellow and double bass Joe Bauer
ABOVE: A CSO-Connect prop used by the Civic Fellows: the Chicago City Flag, with images of Dvořák, Price, Gershwin, and Chance the Rapper placed over the stars.