Family talents in harmony at Grant Park concerts

June 20, 2013

By Dorothy Andries, Norridge-Harwood Heights News

“It runs in the family” is a familiar expression and seems to apply especially in the world of music.

For instance: Karl Davies of Park Ridge has played violin in the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra for 22 years and this season his daughter Maureen Davies will be sharing the stage with him. She’ll be a member of the alto section of the apprentice chorale, which sings with the Grant Park Chorus in several of the large choral numbers for which the festival is rightly famous.

Maureen attended Maine South High School and is a member of the 2013 graduating class of DePaul University where she majored in voice with well-known mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley. “I sang in the University Singers in college,” she said, “and with Ensemble 20+.” The group, founded in 2009, studies and presents work by living composers, as well as 20th century masters starting with Stravinsky.

She works as a nanny in the Lincoln Park area and plans to spend the next year auditioning for graduate school. “I’m taking a year off from my studies,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to singing in the chorus this summer.” She is scheduled to sing next in Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” June 28 and 29.

The apprentice chorale is a collaboration with DePaul University School of Music and Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts to offer advanced training and performance opportunities for pre-professional vocal students. Led by Christopher Bell, 18 students will perform alongside the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.

The Apprentice Chorale includes sopranos Karen Baron, Rachel Hanauer, Clarice Warrick, Kaitlin Foley, Cat Hall, Michele Kruske and Nicole Verive; altos Davies, Emma Bonanno, Giovanna Jacques, and Legera Danielides; tenors Phillip Brownlee, Benjamin Brunnette and Michael Coduto and basses Zachary Angus, Jonathon Weller, Joshua Poucher and Jeremy Kreitz.

Members of the Apprentice Chorale, along with the fellows from Project Inclusion, will give off-site performances at Chicago’s Hamilton Park and the Poetry Foundation.

Davies himself is deeply involved in Project Inclusion, an new initiative this year. The Grant Park Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta have begun a professional development program to guide young minority musicians in their careers. The Sinfonietta’s mission has always been to reflect the ethnic diversity of Chicago in its players, and the partnership with Grant Park aims to increase diversity among orchestral ensembles nationwide.

Four string musicians, violinists Amyr Joyner and Sarah Martin, violist Yvonne Smith, and cellist Jocelyn Butler survived the rigorous audition process and will spend the summer rehearsing and performing with Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra. The Project Inclusion Fellows will be mentored by Festival musicians Karl Davies, Jennifer Cappelli, Terri Van Valkinburgh and Steven Houser during the summer.

“I am coaching Amyr Joyner,” Davies said. “He’s 26 years old and very good. I have nothing to teach him, but we work on style and approach. Plus he is getting a hands-on real-world experience, dealing with the speed of rehearsals, that sort of thing.”

The fellows from Project Inclusion have formed a quartet and will perform at Gage Park, and Berger Park Cultural Center, both in Chicago, in early July.

During the regular season Davies plays viola in the Lyric Opera Orchestra as well as in the Chicago Philharmonic, which gives concerts in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. He also is among the players who initiated and performs in the Chicago Philharmonic’s chamber concerts in St. Luke Lutheran Church in Park Ridge.