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CCPA graduate forms volunteer musician group giving the gift of music to patients at Chicago hospital

Posted: 05/07/2012
Even though she just graduated from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, Allegra Montanari’s journey as a musician with a social justice mission is just beginning. (She is pictured above with, from left, graduate violin performance major Miguel Garcia and CCPA alumnus and viola player Kevin Linn).

A strong believer in the idea of giving back to the community, the cellist recently started the Chicago College of Performing Arts Musicians in Action group which plays music once a month for cancer patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago.

“It’s easy to be focused as a musician on yourself and your own development,” said Montanari, who believes in the power of music as a healing agent. “But we tend to forget that music is also a gift.   We have the ability to not only create something beautiful with our art, but also to share something that has the amazing potential to speak to people – the potential to alleviate pain and suffering.  With so many talented musicians at this school, I knew we needed to maximize our potential and make this happen.”

Montanari and three other musicians from Roosevelt University recently performed for two hours on Saturday, April 28 in the corridors of the hospital’s cancer ward.

Prentice 3“We talked about our instruments and what music we were playing.  The feedback was wonderful! Most of the patients were physically unable to come out to see us, but we had friends and family coming over to us saying things like ‘You are making my mother very happy right now, thank you!’ It was amazing to hear how excited they were to have us there,” said Montanari, who is an associate member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and a finalist for the New World Symphony.

Those who joined Montanari (pictured above left in purple)  for the April 28 performance included: CCPA students Kellly Knox, a sophomore cellist, (pictured above right in green) and Miguel Garcia, a graduate violin performance major.  Alumnus Kevin Lin, who plays the viola, also joined the volunteer effort.  Northwestern medical student Andres Camacho, who helps lead Northwestern’s Musicians in Medicine, also joined the CCPA group on violin and helped get the program started by connecting  Montanari with coordinators at Prentice Hospital. Both groups of musicians will continue to collaborate and bring music to the hospital.
“It was a very special experience, and I can’t wait to go back and play again,” said Montanari, who graduates on May 4. “You come prepared to give of your time and talents , but it really turns out that what you’re getting back is just as significant – a reminder of the true beauty and  power of music,” she said.

The CCPA Musicians in Action group will perform monthly, likely on the last Saturday of every month, in the cancer ward at Prentice. For more information about the group and/or to join in the next performance, contact Montanari at or visit the group’s Facebook page.