News & Stories

Behind the Scenes

On Being a Festival Docent

This year I begin my 13th season as a Grant Park Music Festival docent and I can say, “I have loved every minute!”

During open rehearsals, I begin my day in the welcome tent meeting people, sharing information about the music being rehearsed and the concert schedule or answering questions about the park, Chicago, or which restaurant serves the best pizza! When the orchestra takes its break, I give a talk about the music being rehearsed, the composer, or, perhaps, the soloist—or it might be about the Festival’s history, Millennium Park or a particular piece of art in the park. One of my favorite moments from last season was doing an interview with Christopher Bell, the Festival’s Chorus Director. Splendid!

Behind the scenes, I attend pre- and post-season meetings. These are opportunities to hear about the coming season’s programming or insights from music professionals. I also assist staff with orchestra auditions or special events.

The things I enjoy most are doing research for my talks and meeting and talking with people from all over the world. I have also made life-long friends.

I encourage you to consider becoming a docent for the Festival. We are a great group of people! Join us and—pssst!—I’ll share my secret about Chicago’s mysterious “Y” with you. It’s one of the wonderful things I learned when researching a talk about the Peristyle in Wrigley Square.

Joellen Freeding
Grant Park Music Festival