Getting to know the 2019/20 Civic Fellows

This season we welcomed new members into the Civic Orchestra of Chicago Fellowship as well as a new manager of the program, Nicolas Gonzalez. While we often get asked about our musical lives, I wanted to ask each fellow (and Nic!) some questions about their lives outside of the practice room. Enjoy!

Alexandria Hoffman, Flute

Alex, post-2019 Chicago Marathon

Where are you from?
Chicago, IL

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I really enjoy running! I recently completed my second marathon and I’ve already signed up for a third.

What are you most looking forward to this season?
I am so excited to be working with (newly appointed Civic Orchestra Principal Conductor) Ken-David Masur. His energy and vision for Civic is infectious.

If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be?
Like many of my fellow fellows, I’m a HUGE Parks and Rec fan. I would love to meet Leslie Knope.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Steak tacos. Easily.

Where is your happy place?
The Lakefront Trail here in Chicago. The view of the lake contrasted with the tall buildings is beautiful.

Hannah Christiansen, Violin

Hannah at Glacier National Park

Where are you from?
All over! I was born in Detroit, grew up in San Antonio, TX, and then bounced around in a few towns in Maine and Massachusetts. We also moved to Colorado Springs, and I attended boarding school in upstate New York. My family moved back to western Massachusetts while I was in college in Oberlin, OH, and I’ve lived in Chicago for the past four years.

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I love sports. A guaranteed way to make me cry is to show me a well-done sports montage, bonus points if it’s women’s sports.

If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be?
I would want to live in the world of Brooklyn 99. Not because I want to be a cop – I don’t. I’d be more of a Gina in the workplace environment, I think. But I would definitely want to exist in that multiverse with great representation, healthy personal growth in the characters when they make mistakes, and the Pontiac Bandit. I love the Pontiac Bandit, aka Doug Judy. Maybe I’d be his partner in literal crime instead of Gina’s replacement.

Philip Bergman, Cello

Where are you from?
Iowa City, IA

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I love food, good stories in any medium, and I am a pretty rabid baseball fan.

What are you most looking forward to this season?
I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work with Ken-David Masur all season. In the short time we spent with him last season, he did an excellent job of building a culture and I’m very excited to see what his vision looks like for the future of this orchestra.

What’s your guilty pleasure pop song?
I don’t feel at all guilty about it, but Janelle Monae‘s “Cold War” might be my favorite pop tune from the last couple decades.

Where is your happy place?
Impressionist room at the Art Institute.

Laura Yawney, Oboe

Where are you from?
Clarksville, Maryland

What are your hobbies outside of music?
Cooking, baking, yoga, sniffing candles in Target, plotting the downfall of the patriarchy.

What’s your guilty pleasure pop song?
Thank u, next by Ariana Grande and pretty much anything from her last two albums.

If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be?
I would live in Parks and Rec because Leslie Knope is a national treasure and it would be an honor to be her employee.

What is your spirit animal and why?
A stubborn pony, because I’m a little headstrong, walk quickly, and love carrots.

Where is your happy place?
The practice room! Just kidding.

Nic Gonzalez, Fellowship Manager

Where are you from?
Fort Wayne, Indiana, but I spent the last seven years in Bloomington, Indiana.

What are your hobbies outside of music?
Photography and hiking! I love taking photos of nature as well as people performing.

What are you most looking forward to this season?
I am looking forward to seeing all of the projects created by the fellows. It will be exciting to see how they take in all of the lessons and ideas and put it into a real, breathing project.

What’s your guilty pleasure pop song?
ME! By Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie. I am a pop junkie, so it was hard to pick one.

What is your spirit animal and why?
Sea Turtle! There are many features of a turtle with which I identify: introverted, always taking its home everywhere it goes, connected with water (which is my element). People always underestimate a turtle…until it surprises them!

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Flautas. It is my favorite Mexican dish and my grandma makes THE BEST ones.

Where’s your favorite place you’ve visited or where do you hope to visit someday?
I did a bit of overseas traveling in undergrad and I fell in love with London. I love big cities with lots of arts and theater. More importantly, I love that British accent. Also, it is home to Harry Potter, which is my all-time favorite series (#Ravenclaw, #Hufflepuff). That being said, I really want to visit New Zealand, Japan, China, and Australia!

What are you reading currently?
The Art of Relevance by Nina Simon.

Where is your happy place?
A bookstore. Particularly Borders.

Elliot Lee, Violin

Where are you from?
I’m from the Northeast, from a town called Acton, MA.

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I play an unhealthy amount of ultimate frisbee and I should probably stop (talking about it).

What are you most looking forward to this season?
If I had to be specific, it would probably be the songwriting projects. I’m definitely excited to be learning from everyone around me.

What’s your guilty pleasure pop song?
The Tangled soundtrack

Cats or dogs?
Dogs

What is your spirit animal and why?
A red panda. They pretend to have their life together but they’re actually panicking inside

Bethany Pereboom, viola

Where are you from?
Salt Lake City, UT

What are your hobbies outside of music?
Road cycling, crocheting, and snuggling my Shih Tzu, Wiggles.

Cats or dogs?
Doggos!

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My mom’s quiche.  It’s kind of cheating because we change up the fillings every time so it’s always new.

Where’s your favorite place you’ve visited or where do you hope to visit someday?
I love Moab, Utah (Arches National Park, Goblin Valley, Canyonlands National Park).  I’ve hiked the red rocks and arches and my next plan is to ride my bike through them – I’m a road cyclist so I stick to the pavement for now, but Slickrock Mountain Bike Trail is calling!

John Heffernan, Violin

Where are you from?
Manhattan Beach, CA.

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I love playing kickball, dodgeball, and volleyball in the Chicago gay sports leagues, however, I am not doing it now in order to spend my time preparing for auditions. I also love working out, doing cardio, and lifting at the gym. It helps me relax after long rehearsals and relieves stress.

What’s your guilty pleasure pop song?
Currently, 100% Motivation by Normani

If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be?
Will and Grace – it is my life

What are you reading currently?
Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

What is your happy place?
On stage, for a symphony orchestra concert

Juan Olivares, Clarinet

Where are you from?
San Juan, Puerto Rico

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I love cooking and hiking

What are you most looking forward to this season?
Building new friendships and making great music.

What is your spirit animal and why?
A Jack Russell Terrier, enough said.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tacos, because, duh…

Where’s your favorite place you’ve visited or where do you hope to visit someday?
I hope to visit the Andes Mountains someday

What are you reading currently?
The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross (I know, it’s very nerdy, sorry)

Where is your happy place?
My family’s cottage

Tabitha Oh, Violin

Where are you from?
Chicago, IL

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I love food. I’m pretty good at baking, and I’ve been getting into cooking recently. I’m also trying to make my way through every season of Hell’s Kitchen.

What are you most looking forward to this season?
I’m naturally very introverted, and I think a lot of the Civic Fellowship activities will force me to venture out of my comfort zone, which is a little scary, but also exciting.

What is your spirit animal and why?
Probably a cat. I like to sleep a lot, and I can be moody sometimes.

Where’s your favorite place you’ve visited or where do you hope to visit someday?
I would love to visit Hawaii.

Where is your happy place?
Home


By second year Civic Fellow and flute Alex Hoffman