Chicago-based conductor Carling FitzSimmons '11 is in charge of two ensembles—Primo Coro, the beginning group (second to fifth grade), and Canterini, the intermediate ensemble (third to seventh grade). In addition to preparing for its own concerts, the chorus performs with other groups around Chicago, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.
After I found out I had made it to the audition stage—that I'd be conducting in front of a room full of singers and board members—I went to my faculty advisor, Ben Locke, showed him the audition music, and said, "I'm going to have to teach young singers after I graduate. Help!" Locke, or "Doc," helped me brainstorm rehearsal strategies, work on my conducting patterns, and gain the confidence I needed, not only to teach the music to the choristers but also to make it fun and engaging.
I know that my love of music was strengthened by the privilege of singing with the Chamber Singers and by the welcoming nature of the professors and students in the Music Department. I also know that I wouldn't have had the courage to pursue an internship at a theater as prestigious as Chicago Shakespeare without the encouragement of Professors Wendy MacLeod, Ben Viccellio, and Adele Davidson. But I also believe that I wouldn't be able to prepare for and run rehearsals for the Youth Chorus each week if I hadn't had the privilege of doing so with Colla Voce, the ensemble I founded with some friends.
The thing I love most about working with the kids in the Pro Musica Youth Chorus is that, with them, my life is never boring. I never know what might happen in rehearsal, or what new thing they might have discovered about a piece. They are constantly surprising me with their willingness to learn, to take risks, to look silly and have fun in order to make beautiful music.