Spotlight: Chicago Musicians

with Courtney Cintron

“HOW DO YOU DEFINE ‘PRACTICE?’”

As arts administrators we come to understand practice from varying traditions and perspectives. Some of us seek positions in which we are able to manage the careers of musicians or the organizations that support them. At times there can be a disconnect between the practices of musicians and the practices of administrators in the field.  How might we imagine these two approaches to practice to be more harmonious? Investigating the practices of local Chicago musicians may provide a starting point for conversation and integration.

I have interviewed five Chicago musicians on how they define their music related practices. All participants, in some form or another, have explored two veins of practice; conventional and non-conventional. Many musicians grow up learning the rules only to break them. They set out to explore new ways of approaching practice that engage mind, body, and heart. Music is a language that many administrators are not proficient in. In order to understand how to best support the career trajectories of musicians, administrators may need to familiarize themselves with musical language such as; improvisation, syncopation, cadence, etc. All of these terms translate into ideas that can be used to forge new ways of approaching administrative practice.

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GABRIEL WALLACE

My Practice

“To me, Practice is the intentional pursuit of betterment via playing and studying your instrument(s). It includes setting goals, honing your skill set, absorbing the works of predecessors and peers, and making necessary adjustments. It’s really a 24/7 state of being aware of the need for improvement. The best accelerants for this are humility, honesty, heartfelt-ness, and hard work.”

Wallace is a DW Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, and Vic Firth Sticks Artist

Eagle’s Nest– Faderbooste
https://fadrbooste.bandcamp.com/track/eagles­nest

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EVA BEE

My Practice

“Cello practice is both a meditative and agonizing experience for me. I oftentimes find myself bored by foundational and traditional practice components, i.e. scales and long bows. Yet, at times I slip into a meditative state. When I am in a meditative and reflective mindset, I am able to explore these seemingly mundane and simple elements through a refreshed lens. This oftentimes leads to heightened moments of creativity and musical expression. It is through practice that I am able to build the confidence necessary for me to express myself through music.”

Eva Bee is in a band called Moonrise Nation. She is one of three singer/songwriters in the group, as well as the cellist.

Monster-Moonrise Nation
https://youtu.be/ifzqkqoF7bc

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COLE DeGENOVA

My Practice

“Practice, for me, used to be more of a training process, a gradual accumulation of technical skills and pre-established traditions within music and art. Although I still find myself seeking out new skills and inspirations, my practice now is more focused on honing in on my individual sound and creative identity–acknowledging my creative past while keeping my intentions progressive and flexible enough to incorporate the ever-changing environments around me, whether in life or on the stage.”

As a pianist, vocalist, and composer Cole DeGenova has spent most of his life crafting his eclectic artistic voice, beginning his career at age 16 as a jazz pianist around his native Chicago.

Just People Again by Cole DeGenova
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQrb_6AOSH8

 

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WILLIAM KURK

My Practice

“Practice is perpetual, even during the performance. I treat practice as a performance-in-progress; every moment performing as an instrumentalist, vocalist, or dancer is an assessment for possibilities uncovered. To prepare is essential, while performing is consequential. The intent behind all artistic focus resides in the construction of those principles that make the art purposeful, and practice is the pathway for the beginning and ending of all art.”

Formal vocal training for William Kurk started with his grandmother, Dr. Lena McLin, at age 13. Prior to that, he studied the flute, trumpet, guitar, and bass guitar. Piano would eventually become Kurk’s instrument of choice.

Selenium by William Kurk
http://williamkurk.bandcamp.com/

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AMANDA RUNGE

My  Practice

“My idea of practice has transformed throughout the years. Currently I view my practice as a whole body experience. A time for me to study how my instrument is doing physically and how I can utilize it to its full potential, helping me become the artist I want to be. And then music study, study, study and more study. Knowing my music front to back so that I can interpret it to best express what I want to express.”

As a child growing up in Wisconsin, Amanda Runge found her voice sitting on her older sister’s high school musical theater rehearsals, singing loud from the audience. By age 14, she had her professional opera debut singing the role of Lady Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.

  • with Courtney Cintron

    FEATURED

    GABRIEL WALLACE
    Biography:
    "lefts x rights x dreams."
    manuaLs (Gabriel Wallace) is a sonic shredder in size 10 sneakers. The Midwestern drummer, producer, and solo artist commands a dexterous style, fortified by top-flight experience.
    He has worked with the music industry's elite: Gorillaz, Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones (The Clash), late greats Bobby Womack and Lou Reed, De La Soul, Bootie Brown (The Pharcyde), Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Snoop Dogg, yasiin bey (fka Mos Def), Will.I.Am, apl.de.ap (Black Eyed Peas),
    Little Dragon, Childish Gambino, Quadron, 2NE1, Corinne Bailey Rae, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Peven Everett, Jesse Fischer, Margot Bingham and more.
    Solo work includes 2012's MID ONE (a thump-clap beat fest) and the upcoming MID 1.5 (a fat free, filthy EP). His 1-of-1 soundprint is defined x refined via relentless craftsmanship and development.

    EVA BEE
    Biography:
    Eva Bee (Baldinger) has been playing the cello since the third grade and singing for what feels like her entire life. She was classically trained as both a cellist and vocalist, and it wasn’t until the end of high school that she began writing her own music and using the cello as a creative outlet. Baldinger used to resent her mom for making her play the cello, and now she cannot thank her enough. Being able to use the cello as a channel for emotions and creativity has been one of the greatest gifts of her life.
    Baldinger is currently in a band called Moonrise Nation with her younger sister and a close friend. She is one of three singer/songwriters in the group, as well as the cellist.
    Monster-Moonrise Nation https://youtu.be/ifzqkqoF7bc

    COLE DEGENOVA
    Biography:
    Somewhere between a soul pop concert, South Side jazz club, slam poetry reading, and punk rock dive bar, lives the music of Cole DeGenova... As a pianist, vocalist, and composer Cole DeGenova has spent most of his life crafting his eclectic artistic voice, beginning his career at age 16 as a jazz pianist around his native Chicago. As a bandleader, he started his funky alternative soul group Cole DeGenova & The People’s Republic at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he released his first album JUST PEOPLE AGAIN in 2009. A few years later, DeGenova released his second album ANOTHER COUNTRY. Now based in Chicago and Los Angeles, he is both an in demand studio musician as well as a touring performer around the globe. He has worked with Lupe Fiasco, Brett Dennen, Chance the Rapper, Gallant, Latin Grammy winner Lucky Diaz, Meshell N’Degeocello, Paula Cole, James Carter, engineer Eddie Kramer, Hey Champ, Dave Shaw, as well as funk group The Heard and experimental jazz trio Hanging Hearts. DeGenova is also a co-founder and organizer for the Chicago artist collective The Gala. His song “Hollywood Girl” was chosen as a Finalist in the 2015 American Songwriting Awards.

    WILLIAM KIRK
    Biography:
    Manufactured from the seed of musical ancestry, William Kurk is a Chicago-born artist that comes from a family of artistic lineage. Son to musicians Beverly and William, Sr, grandson to Dr. Lena Mclin, and great nephew to Thomas A. Dorsey, Kurk is a torch bearer of the most distinguished values of humanity and arts.
    Formal vocal training for Kurk started with his grandmother, Dr. Lena McLin at age 13. Prior to that, Kurk studied the flute, trumpet, guitar, and bass guitar. Piano would eventually become Kurk’s instrument of choice. As early as 16, Kurk was playing in a big band led by the late-great Ken Chaney as an apprentice, and playing solo piano gigs around town.
    While studying jazz pedagogy under the guidance of Bill Russo at Columbia College, Kurk was summoned for studio work as a session player for Motown/Universal artist Prophet Jones, as well as 143 Records. It was during these sessions that Kurk was introduced to Tom Washington (arranger for Earth, Wind, & Fire, Genesis, The Jacksons), who would instantly become a mentor in pop arranging and musicianship. Kurk continues to work as a freelance pianist, as well as for several theater companies as a musical director/sound designer/pianist. Kurk was nominated in 2007 for Best Musical Director by the Black Theater Alliance for the musical “Sarafina”. Other notable shows under the musical direction of Kurk include: “Once On This Island”, “Ragtime”, “Hair”, “Runaways”, “Godspell”, “Nefertiti”, “The Wiz”, “Trouble The Water”, and “Cabaret”.
    William Kurk has also been a host to many events and shows around Chicago, as well as reviewed several indie projects under the alias ‘The Musicianarian’. Other studio credits outside of his own include: Seal, Melba Moore, Dwele, and Maysa Leak among many others. The William Kurk Enterprise- "LIVE IN CHICAGO" DVD was released in 2011, which is a live concert compilation of Kurk's ensemble performing across Chicago. The future will present more music to come from William Kurk, as the latest project will be a tribute album to all the artists that have been an influence to the musical journey. The legacy continues.

    AMANDA RUNGE
    Biography:
    As a child growing up in Wisconsin, Amanda Runge found her voice sitting on her older sister’s high school musical theater rehearsals, singing loud from the audience. By age 14, she had her professional opera debut singing the role of Lady Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madam Butterfly. While receiving a Bachelor’s in Music from the University of Southern California, Ms. Runge performed many roles including: Tituba in The Crucible, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, and Third Lady in The Magic Flute.
    Wanting to expand her experience and gain an international perspective in performance, she continued her studies at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she earned a Master’s in Music; reviving roles in both Gianni Schicchi and The Magic Flute. Ms. Runge performs regularly with many Chicago companies, including: Mainstreet Opera, Opera on Tap, Grant Park Chorus, DaCorneto, Verismo Opera, Katydid Productions, Elgin Opera Company, Third Eye Ensemble Theatre, American Chamber Opera, and will be singing with Lyric Opera Chicago starting in August. She is also a principal member of Lingerie Lyrique, a burlesque opera company. In addition to her work in Chicago, Ms.
    Runge has performed in a one of a kind opera production of baroque music with Kiez Oper in Berlin, Germany and an original piece with Chicago’s Redmoon Theater Company in Hangzhou, China.
    Additionally, she is an active recitalist in both in the USA and England, singing with Bakersfield Symphony, Banbury Symphony, and Aspen Festival Orchestra.