CCPA Nonprofit Receives Excellence in Arts Award

Sharing Notes and the Center for Arts Leadership

by Dami Akinola
(MS Integrated Marketing Communications, ’21)

Graduate viola performance student Kathryn Krajewski remembers well the first time she volunteered to play at a Chicago hospital with the nonprofit organization Sharing Notes.

A volunteer harpist at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital

A volunteer harpist with the group had just played a jazz song in the waiting area of Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital. The daughter of a cancer patient approached to let the musicians know that her mother, while unable to leave her bed, loved the piece. In fact, she had danced to it many years ago at her wedding and wanted to hear it again.

“It was a special moment that showed me how much impact music can have,” said the 23-year-old Krajewski, who continues to volunteer at Prentice on viola.

“Music is not something we practice for no reason. It can make a difference in lives, which is why I keep coming back to share,” she said.

Such an experience is part of the remarkable nature of Sharing Notes, a unique nonprofit organization sponsored by Roosevelt University. Sharing Notes recently received the Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee Excellence in the Arts Award, the prestigious recognition given annually by the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.

Allegra Montanari

“Sharing Notes’ unique ability to selflessly help others through their musical talents builds community even as it opens up space for transformative healing and change,” said Christina Salerno, executive director of IPO.

Started in 2012, the award-winning group encourages volunteer musicians, including many from the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA), to regularly spread the beauty of music beyond the concert hall.

Allegra Montanari founded Sharing Notes in 2012 as a graduate cello performance student. She now serves as the director of CCPA’s Center for Arts Leadership.

“As students pursuing degrees in the performing arts, we are surrounded by the beauty of live music and it can be easy to take that for granted,” she said. “With my colleagues, I decided that we needed to reconnect with the power we have to create that beauty for others — especially those who lack access to it.”

Since its beginnings as a student group performing at Prentice Women’s Hospital, Sharing Notes has grown to become an independent 501(c)3 organization with continued support from Roosevelt as an educational sponsor.

“Music is not something we practice for no reason. It can make a difference in lives, which is why I keep coming back to share.”

—Kathryn Krajewski
Viola performance student

Volunteers playing music for children at The Lurie Children's Hospital

Approximately 40 musicians, including many students and alumni from CCPA’s Music Conservatory, perform regularly at Prentice, the Lurie Cancer Center, La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.

To date, Sharing Notes has given more than 500 performances and reached more than 28,000 hospital patients.

“We needed to reconnect with the power we have to create that beauty for others — especially those who lack access to it.”

— Allegra Montanari
Director of the Center for Arts Leadership

Sharing Notes Volunteers

“Community engagement like this is very important,” said Linda Berna, associate dean and director of the Music Conservatory at CCPA. “It provides the opportunity for our students to celebrate the joy of life and confront suffering. It also gives students a sense of professional responsibility, and helps them develop their skills to be advocates for the arts.”

She believes the award is a “testament” to the hard work done by Montanari and also is representative of the programming and opportunity that Chicago’s arts community favors. “What Sharing Notes stands for is what our arts community really values,” Berna said.

Receiving IPO’s coveted award on behalf of the nonprofit on October 19, Montanari said, “As a small organization, having the recognition of such a prominent and beloved arts institution as the IPO is truly an honor.”

Allegra Montanari receiving IPO’s coveted award on behalf of the nonprofit, Sharing Notes.

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