Betsy Ko, flutist, has been an active performer and teacher in Chicago since moving to the area in 1991. She joined the faculty at Merit School of Music in 1994, where she teaches individuals and groups of all levels. Prior to accepting her current position at ChiArts, she was also a member of Merit’s administrative staff, serving as Director of Bridges: Partners in Music from 2006 to 2009. As a performer, Ms. Ko freelances in a wide variety of settings. Performance resume highlights include being a soloist on “Live from Studio One” on WFMT and at the National Flute Association’s annual convention. She can also be heard performing on the compact disc “Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano”, a collection of Jewish cabaret music released in 2002 by Cedille Records. Ms. Ko received her M.M. in Flute Performance from DePaul University, and she also holds Illinois teaching certification. Her undergraduate degree is in Pure Mathematics from Brown University. In addition to serving as ChiArts Music Department Head, Ms. Ko teaches Band, Freshman Woodwind Technique, and AP Music Theory.
Alicia Poot Kelly (“Poot” rhymes with “boat”) is an orchestral and chamber flutist in and around Chicago. Since 2009 she is a core member of “Palomar,” the performing arm of Chicago composer resource Access Contemporary Music (ACM). Other performance credits include work with the Chicago Composers’ Orchestra, the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Southwest Michigan, and Northwest Indiana Symphonies, Whiting Park Festival Orchestra, Pine Mountain Music Festival, Lira Ensemble, New Millennium Orchestra, Highland Park Strings, The Irish Tenors, Bach and Beyond, Anaphora, International Chamber Artists, and Crossing Borders Music Collective. Mrs. Poot Kelly has also been a faculty member at Merit School of Music, and has worked with student composers through the Young Composers Program at Cleveland Institute of Music and ACM’s High School Composers Workshop. She has been a winner or finalist in several competitions hosted by organizations such as The National Flute Association, Tuesday Musical Society, Madison Are Flute Association, and has performed in festivals in Canada and Italy: Orford Arts Centre, Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, Rome Festival, and the Julius Baker Masterclasses. She has studied at DePaul University, The University of Akron (MM), Western Michigan University (BM), and The Catholic University of America. Mrs. Poot Kelly is married to ChiArts percussion faculty member Jeff Kelly.
Anthony Bruno is a freelance saxophone, clarinet, and flute player who plays throughout the country. He earned a B.M. in Music Education from DePaul University in Chicago and played in the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Bob Lark. While at DePaul he was immersed in Chicago’s vast scene of working musicians and began playing at the top jazz clubs in Chicago: the Green Mill, the Jazz Showcase, and Andy’s Jazz Club. He has played with famous names such as R. Kelly, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Wynton Marsalis, Gerald Clayton, Doc Severinsen, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Bobby Watson, Sean Jones, and Phil Woods. He has also performed in two Universal Pictures Movies, Public Enemies with Johny Depp and Diana Krall, and The Express, where you can hear him soloing during the dance scene at Syracuse University. Anthony has played at Riot Fest, North Coast Music Festival, Umbrella Music Festival, Jazz Education Network Conference, Festival Cubano, and the Fox Jazz Festival. He is also heavily involved in studio and session work and has his own home studio where he records and produces his own music. You can listen to his music at his Music Page. As Jazz Coordinator of ChiArts, Anthony works with the Thelonious Monk Institute, The Ravinia Jazz Scholars, and the Louis Armstrong Legacy Performance Celebration. Anthony is a member of JEN, the Jazz Education Network. Anthony is a Selmer Endorsing Artist.
This is Chris Cashman’s fifth year at ChiArts. He received his B.A. in TESOL at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and spent a summer teaching English in Mexico while living with a pastoral family there. After teaching ESL at Harold Washington College for a year and a half, he decided to pursue a long-time goal of being a Spanish teacher and studied Spanish Linguistics at UIC (M.A. degree) and taught Spanish there. He completed education coursework at Northeastern and taught for two years at Oak Park & River Forest High School.
Mr.Cashman has been immersed in the Hispanic community in Chicago by being involved in a Spanish-speaking church. He serves as a youth ministry leader and a few years ago started a band in the church which he directs. He has served as the accompanist for Senior Chorale, and this year will be teaching Chorale Experience. Mr.Cashman has a wife and two children and lives in Humboldt Park.
Natalie Chami is a composer, performer, and music educator. She holds a Bachelor’s in Music with an emphasis in Music Education from Northwestern University and concentrations in classical voice, opera performance, and choral conducting. She has acted as director of volunteer music outreach groups including the Music Learning Community (MLC) and UpBeat!, which organized free music lessons in the Evanston and Chicago area. In addition to her degree, Ms. Chami is also Illinois Teacher Certified for grades K-12 (Music). She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and was a finalist for the National Artist Teacher Fellowship in 2014.
Ms. Chami is an active member of Chicago’s experimental music scene. She records and performs solo music under the name TALsounds, in the trio Good Willsmith, and as half of the duo l’éternèbre. Each of these projects presents a variation or complication of an overarching performative process: her vocal loops and analog synth tones drift and accumulate across long sessions of improvised music – generating an atmosphere of her own, or colluding with the processed electronics and textural sound collages of her collaborators. After a series of tape releases on labels like Hausu Mountain, Tabs Out, and Moog’s own physical imprint, Chami released her first TALsounds LP, Love Sick, with New York’s Ba Da Bing Records. In addition to her regular local performances, Ms. Chami has performed across the US on four national tours with Good Willsmith and two solo tours to date. Good Willsmith was chosen with the trio as an artist in residence at Chicago’s High Concept Laboratories for the Fall/Winter 2012-13 season. The band’s LPs The Honeymoon Workbook and Things Our Bodies Used To Have, released on Mexico-city based label Umor Rex, earned positive reviews from publications including Pitchfork, FACT, and Vice/THUMP, while TALsounds’s 2015 LP Love Sick saw praise from NPR, FACT, Bandcamp, and BBC6 Radio.
Mr. Chin is Assistant Director the Chicago Symphony Chorus and is the founder and artistic director of The Oriana Singers, a six-voice a cappella group that has presented concerts nationally and internationally since 1979. He is Music Director of the Pro Musica Youth Chorus, with whom he has recorded two CDs for GIA Publications. In addition, Mr. Chin directs the Symphony Chorus for the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, is founder and director of the community chorus City Voices, and is the conductor of the Anshe Emet Synagogue Choir in Chicago. He is an active professional singer and performs with numerous Chicago-area choral ensembles. Mr. Chin has served on the adjunct faculty for both DePaul and Roosevelt Universities.
Julian Chin joined the ChiArts faculty in 2012. He has served as an instructor and accompanist for many organizations in the Chicago area, including After School Matters, Merit School of Music, and the Pro Musica Youth Chorus. He has worked as a a music director and pit musician for Light Opera Works, Porchlight Theater, and the Journeyman, among others, and is proud to have been the music director for all of ChiArts’ main stage musical productions. In addition to his work in theater and education, Julian can be seen performing around the city with bands in a wide variety of genres, from jazz to rock to hip hop and everything in between. In 2011, he toured the US and Europe with the avant-garde rock group Capillary Action, including performances at Willisau Jazz Festival and the Rumor Festival in Utrecht. Currently, he can be seen performing with rock/soul singer Elle Casazza, and as a guest artist with a wide variety of local acts. Julian is a native Chicagoan, and graduated in 2008 from Oberlin Conservatory with a B.M. in Piano Performance, with a focus in Jazz Studies.
Thomas Clippert savors the wide variety of music available for the guitar, from the early Renaissance to the present day. He frequently performs as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the Chicago area. He has appeared with a variety of ensembles including L’Opera Piccola, Heartland Voices, CUBE, Northwest Chicago String Quartet, Northwest Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Chicago New Music Ensemble. In 2010, Tom became a founding member the Avanti Guitar Trio with friends and colleagues Julie Goldberg and Jeffrey Gabriel Silva. Tom is a graduate of the Yale School of Music where he studied with Benjamin Verdery and was awarded the Eliot Fisk Guitar Prize. Additional studies include Phillip de Fremery at the Mount Holyoke Guitar Master Class and Patrick Roux at the Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy in Quebec. In addition to being a founding faculty member at ChiArts, Tom teaches at Oakton Community College, The Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Tom has been a featured artist at the Interlochen Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop.
Jason Ellis performs with Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Million Dollar Quartet, and a wide variety of classical and popular ensembles. His teaching experience includes the Jacobs School at Indiana University as well as Interlochen Center for the Arts. Jason has performed with the Memphis Symphony, the World Youth Symphony, and jazz luminaries such as Bobby Watson, James Williams, and Fareed Haque. His primary teachers are Lawrence Hurst, Bruce Bransby, John Clayton, and Rufus Reid. Jason endorses Lakland basses and Genz Benz amplifiers.
John Elmquist received his DMA in composition from the University of Memphis, and his MM in piano performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. He serves on the faculties the Chicago High School of the Arts, the Merit School of Music and the People’s Music School. He is also the Music Director at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Chicago and works in and around Chicago as a bass player. In 1999, Mr. Elmquist formed HardArt group as a vehicle for performing his music. This ad hoc ensemble, ranging in size from 3-20 players, has produced 14 recordings and currently performs at various venues in Chicago. The group has performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the Green Mill and Northeastern Illinois University. In January 2011, Mr. Elmquist won first prize in the Rapido! composition competition held by the Atlanta Chamber players, receiving a commission to be performed in the 2011-12 seasons of the Atlanta Chamber Players, Boston Musica Viva and Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble. Also in 2011 he will hold a fellowship at Georgia’s Hambidge Creative Residency Program. hardartgroop.comhttp://hardartgroop.com/
Terrance Malone Gray’s career as a violinist and conductor has garnered him national and international recognition. Born in Wisconsin, he began studying the violin with Elizabeth Grabow Mueller at the age of eight. Mr. Gray went on to study with Marc Zinger and Victor Aitay at DePaul University and later studied with Ruben Gonzalez. He served as concertmaster of the DePaul University Orchestra and as concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Mr. Gray later became a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Chicago Sinfonietta as well as embarking on the study of conducting.
In his post college years Mr. Gray became Music Director of the South Side Family Chamber Orchestra, and principal conductor of CYSO’s Concert Orchestra, which led to engagements at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago as well as the Rocky Ridge Music Festival in Colorado. In 1999 Mr. Gray became the principal conductor of the Illinois Chamber Symphony, and during 2002 season was Music Director/Conductor and Professor of Violin at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.
In 2010 Mr. Gray had his premiere performance conducting Chicago Sinfonietta at Orchestra Hall and spent the year as cover conductor for the Joffrey Ballet under Scott Speck. Later that same year Mr. Gray was awarded a Conductor of the Year award from the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
As a chamber musician, he has performed as a member of the American Arts Trio, the Tower Ensemble and the EDU String Quartet. He also has performed with such jazz greats as Edward Wilkerson, Mwata Bowden, Ari Brown and Orbert Davis. Mr. Gray has performed at the Musikverein and Kozerthaus in Vienna, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Tonnehalle in Geneva and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His touring has also taken him to Switzerland, Germany, Spain, China and Japan.
Mr. Gray is currently a member of Chicago Sinfonietta and concertmaster of the New Black Repertory Ensemble; Associate Conductor of CYSO, and Music Director of the South Side Family Chamber Orchestra.
Jeannette Hoyt has over two decades of large and small ensemble teaching experience and music lesson teaching expertise. Previously General Manager and Intermediate Orchestra Director of Hyde Park Youth Symphony and String Ensemble Director at Guerin Prep High School, River Grove, Illinois, Jeannette serves as an adjudicator for Illinois High School Music Association District Contest, Illinois Music Educators Association Contest, and the Granquist Music Competition. As guest clinician, Jeannette has worked with the Schaumburg Youth Symphony and Chicago’s All-Star Orchestra. One of Jeannette’s favorite arts education experiences was her junior year at Interlochen Arts Academy, a fine arts high school. Prior to teaching at ChiArts, Jeannette taught piano lab to 11th and 12th graders through the Noble Network School system.
Jeff Kelly has played and studied drum set and percussion for more than two decades. He was fortunate to have received a large part of his training from the late Alan Dawson, who mentored such drum set luminaries as Tony Williams and Vinnie Colaiuta. He studied Music at Boston University, and went on to earn his Masters Degree in Jazz from The Berklee College of Music & Boston Conservatory. There he continued his drum set work under the fine tutelage of Ron Savage, and Jon Hazilla, who was a student of Max Roach’s. He studied Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music with Ed Uribe, Sa Davis, and Bobby Sanabria (Dizzy Gillespe) and West African drumming with Joe Galeota (maker of JAG drums). He traveled to Ghana for additional study with Emanuel, Rueben, and Victor Agbeli, sons of Master Drummer Godwin Agbeli. Jeff is an experienced, enthusiastic, and dedicated Drum Teacher and an active performer in genres including jazz, funk, folk, rock, r&b, pop, and “other.” In addition to his work as a Professional Musician, he is a Producer, a Recording Engineer with major label credits, a Songwriter whose works have gotten international airplay, and a Composer for clients such as Twentieth Century Fox Searchlight, MTV, Frito Lay, and Pepsi. Having worked on production teams with Grammy nominees and Oscar winners, he brings to his classroom an understanding of the type of professionalism it takes to succeed in the music industry. Jeff is a big fan of science, history, football, and loves to fish, having recently caught a ferociously bellicose 45-inch Northern Pike.
Adam LaSalle is an actor, pianist, music director, and teacher. He has worked with Memphis’ Playhouse on the Square Musical Theatre Education Program, the Chicago Children’s Choir, SummerSing’s International Choral Festival in Cork City, Ireland, and an number of revues and cabarets at the Promontory and as a regular at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret in Wicker Park. Prior to ChiArts, he was the founding Choral teacher and Art Department Chair at Butler College Prep. He has also music directed a number of musicals throughout the city and is humbled to have been a part of the Chicago premiere of Forbidden Broadway’s Spamilton.
Erica Lessie received her BM in cello performance from Indiana University, where she studied with Fritz Magg. At Florida State University she earned an MM in cello performance and completed coursework for a DMA. Currently, she is teaching at DePaul University Community Music Division, Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College, Chicago High School for the Arts and Whitney Young Magnet High School. Ms. Lessie is a freelance cellist in the Chicago area. She is a founding member of the cross-style string quartet Red Riding Hood and co-founder of Cherchez la Femme, an ensemble dedicated to performing works by women. She is also an auxiliary member of the rock band Tributosaurus.
Caryn Ott Hillman started dancing at the age of three. Her love for performing brought her to Chicago to attend Roosevelt University for a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance. After years of performing in musicals in Equity and Non-Equity houses, Caryn found her love of teaching, directing and choreographing. Currently, she is not only working here at ChiArts, but at Lycee Francais, Chicago Opera Theater, Music Theater Works, Merit School of Music, Actors Gymnasium and The New Music School, as well. Her method of teaching is: Build Trust in the Classroom so each performer feels confident enough to Be Daring!
Greta Pope is an award winning, internationally acclaimed entertainer. She has delighted audiences throughout Europe, the Far East, South America and the Caribbean, as well as the United States and Canada. Ms. Pope has been touted one of the great voices of our time, as she performs with ease all styles from Jazz to Opera, and from Rhythm and Blues to Broadway. Greta’s performance credentials include singing in several languages. She has shared the stage with such well-known performers as Wynonna Judd, Dick Van Dyke, Stanley Clarke, Ramsey Lewis, Rich Little, Penn & Teller and many others. Greta’s voice is featured on commercials and voice-overs, including those for McDonald’s, Whirlpool, Allstate, Lexus, Este Lauder and others. Greta Pope is the daughter-in-law of legendary Duke Ellington vocalist Kay Davis. Through this relationship, Greta has developed a one-woman show entitled Duke Ellington…The Man…The Music…The Legend! This historic show features the music of the legendary American Composer. In this engaging performance, Greta shares funny and heartwarming anecdotes from Kay’s years with “The Duke.” Greta Pope holds a Bachelor of Music Degree, a Master of Music Degree and has studied at Indiana University with the brilliant Metropolitan Opera soprano Eileen Farrell. Greta Pope is a Ph.D. in Business Administration and is the author of self-help book Music, Money & You; Managing the Business, now available at leading booksellers nationwide. Music, Money & You has been chosen as the selected text for several school programs. Dr. Pope is a consultant to the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools where she has served as musical director and vocal coach. Dr. Pope is The Music Business Expert. She is a Motivational Speaker and travels the country with her Music, Money & You Motivational Tour, presenting Master Classes to groups on the topics of “Breaking into the Music Industry” and “It’s Your Life; Being All You Can Be!” Dr. Pope has been a featured speaker at the Annual Self Employment in the Arts Conference (SEA) and the Annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Conference (CEO). Greta Pope is a current/past member of several not-for-profit Boards around the Chicago area, including the Ronald McDonald House, WorldChicago, Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society, Chicago Cabaret Professionals, Morgan Park Academy and Advocate Trinity Hospital. Greta Pope is also a member of Jack and Jill of America, The Girl Friends, Inc. and The Links, Incorporated, for which she serves as the Windy City Links Arts Chairman. Dr. Pope is involved with performing arts organizations and serves on the Board of Directors for the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Chicago local, where she is the Chairman of the Singers Committee. Greta is also a member of the Manhattan Association of Cabaret Artists, Cabaret West and the Chicago Cabaret Professionals. Greta Pope is married to Chicago businessman Edward L. Wimp. They have one son, Edward W. Wimp.
Devvora Papatheodorou Schreier has an M.M. in Piano Performance from DePaul University, a B.M. in Piano Performance from Nikos Skalkotas Conservatory and a Degree in Harmony from Model Conservatory. During her Master’s degree, she studied piano with Mary Sauer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she studied piano technique and chamber music with Deborah Sobol of the Chicago Chamber Musicians for five years after the completion of her Master’s. She has had master classes with Mary Stolper, Yehuda Hanani, Jerry Grossman, William Cernota, and Christopher Costanza, among others. Ms. Papatheodorou has extensive experience in teaching piano, piano ensemble and theory. She has had training and certification in YAMAHA’s Clavinova lab and trained piano faculty in group class repertoire, class management and methodologies. Ms. Papatheodorou has coached one‐piano four‐hand and two‐piano ensembles, as well as mixed chamber groups for several years and currently teaches at Dominican University, where she also serves as Director of the Music Discipline. She has had several years of solo, chamber music and one-piano found-hands performing experience, as well as accompanying other instrumentalists and vocalists.
Kelsey Tortorice is a music educator and vocalist. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education in 2011 at VanderCook College of Music and has been teaching music in Chicago ever since. She’s taught choir, private voice, guitar, theory, piano, and directed musicals in both neighborhood and charter schools. Kelsey’s students have earned “excellent” and “superior” ratings at competitions both in Chicago and out of state. Her students have also been recognized in various media stories including mentions in a WBEZ story on how music changes the teenage brain and a feature on WGN when Kelsey was awarded “Teacher of the Month,” in January 2017. Kelsey has been honored by her Alma Mater as the recipient of the 2015 “Roseanne Rosenthal Excellence in Teaching Award.”
In addition to the work that she does with students, Kelsey sings as a member of the Wicker Park Choral Singers and in the local band Budway Ferris and the Mutual Magic. Aside from teaching and performing music, she spends most of her time working with Inner Sense Healing Arts Collective, a community space for yoga, wellness, and the arts that she is a proud co-founder of. Kelsey looks forward to continuing to share her passion for music with young people and supporting the invaluable mission of creating equitable educational experiences for students in this city.
Dr. Brooks Truly is an endorsed performing artist with Remo Drumheads, Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and is a member of the Vic Firth Education Team in the Collegiate Educators Program. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, a Master of Music degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of South Alabama, all in the field of Percussion Performance. Currently, he teaches Percussion and AP Music Theory at ChiArts, Applied Percussion and Ear Training/Sight Singing at Morton College, Music Theory at The Merit School of Music, and private lessons on both percussion and piano. Additionally, he performs with the world fusion group Callaloo, The Chicago Dance Institute, and is a freelance musician with various other groups in the Chicago area. Dr. Truly has taught percussion at several universities, secondary and primary schools, and has performed with dozens of orchestras and chamber groups as a section/principal percussionist, and as a featured soloist, as well as hundreds of drum set and theater performances throughout the Gulf Coast, South Florida, and Midwest areas. During this time, he has shared the stage with such artists as Lil Greenwood, Bobby Shew, Louis Bellson, Sherwood Mobley, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Jim Walker, Yo-Yo Ma, Michel Camilo, Samuel Ramey, Andrea Bocelli, Marcello Giordani, Ramsey Lewis, Paul Potts, Faith Hill, and Elvis Costello, to name a few, and has worked with such conductors/ composers as Scott Speck, John Strickler, Aaron Jay Kernis, David LaMarche, Aaron Kula, Ramón Tebar, Steven Mercurio, Alexander Platt, James Judd, Helmuth Rilling, Sir Andrew Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Daniel Barenboim, Russell Peck, Placido Domingo, and Phillip Glass, among others, and was a percussionist in the world premiere of Mason Bates’ Music for Percussion and Orchestra. Recently he was invited to present his doctoral essay, The Afro-Cuban Abakuá as a performance/demonstration at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). For a full bio and more information, please visit www.brookstruly.com.