The orchestra program at Northside Prep seeks to offer students an opportunity to explore and refine musicianship skills through the study of the violin, viola, cello and bass. At an enrollment of only 62 students in 2000, the program currently serves 158 students, roughly 10% of the overall school population. Orchestra students participate in 1 of 4 curricular orchestras (Beginning Strings, Intermediate Strings, Concert Strings, Chamber Strings) offered at Northside Prep. From the novice who is seizing an opportunity presented to her for the very first time to the aspiring professional musician who has studied privately since the age of 3, the orchestra program at Northside Prep takes great pride in catering to the needs and desires of a musically, culturally and socioeconomically diverse student population.
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Leo Park has been the director of orchestras at Northside Prep since 2001. A graduate of DePaul University's School of Music in Chicago, Illinois, Leo studied violin with Hilel Kagan, music education with Judy Bundra and MIchael Smith, chamber music with Chris Costanza, Bill Cernota, Roger Goodman and Stefan Hersh, and performed with the DePaul Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Cliff Colnot for 5 seasons. In 2007, Leo earned a Masters of Music Education Degree from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois. His thesis, entitled Hip Hop: An Entry Point into the Study of the World's Music and Culture, was presented as a lecture and demonstration to faculty and students on July 24th, 2007.
In addition to his position as director of orchestras at Northside Prep, Leo has served as instructor of string pedagogy and methods at Northeastern Illinois University and North Park University and as instructor of secondary general music methods in the graduate studies program at VanderCook College of Music. Leo has presented several lectures and workshops on music and education at various institutions including VanderCook College of Music, Northwestern University, Lake Forest College, Northeastern Illinois University, the Music-in-Education National Conference at the New England Conservatory, the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education’s annual Convergence event and the Illinois Music Educators Conference.