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  • Terri Van Valkinburgh, Assistant Principal viola

New Kids on the Block


Here are two of our newest players, Amy Hess, viola, and Ian Hallas, double bass. Disregard the lady with the thumbs - she already works here. In this photo we're all enjoying Chicago-style hot dogs (for those who don't know, Chicago-style dogs have absolutely no ketchup but a glorious heap of a relish who's atomic-green hue only occurs in those movies where someone falls into the open vat of nuclear waste kept in an alley. Sooo relatable). Why is Amy laughing? Has she just heard that the viola part to Berlioz's Les Troyens is 150 pages long? And takes almost 5 hours to play? Ian seems ok with it all. Bass scores won't have that many pages and bass players are generally pretty laid back. Also, hot dogs. Anyway, here's a little bit about these guys.

Where were you before you came to the Lyric and what were you doing?

Amy: I moved to Evanston to do my Masters at Northwestern and fell in love with the Chicago area. I stayed here after school, playing in Civic, teaching, and, taking auditions. Before that I was in Oberlin for my undergrad, and I grew up in Lancaster, PA.

Ian: I was in school up through last May at the University of Southern California. I received my Master’s degree there in 2015 and was halfway through a Graduate Certificate program when I won the Lyric job. Before that, I was at Rice University in Houston getting my Bachelors. 8 years of school total- so happy to be done!

Any pets? Kids?

Amy: If I can keep my orchid alive, I'll graduate myself to maybe some potted herbs and/or a sourdough starter. After that I'll consider the animal kingdom!

Ian: I’ve never had a furry friend so I figure it would be best to wait until I feel more settled with the gig to adopt a fur buddy. I love both dogs and cats but am super allergic to kitties (anyone know of a way I can get around that?)

What do you think of Chicago-style pizza?

Amy: I love deep dish, especially in the dead of winter. A Neapolitan doesn't really cut it when there are multiple feet of snow outside.

Ian: Being from Northbrook originally, Chicago style is the only style as far as I’m concerned. I tolerate every other type of pizza.

How do you feel about the Chicago tradition banning ketchup from hot dogs?

Amy: Unacceptable.

Ian: For a long time, ketchup was one of the only toppings I enjoyed, so I have been to the dark side when it comes to hot dogs. When I left for school and would come back home over breaks, I began to see the light and now enjoy my hot dogs with all the bells and whistles.

Have you discovered something fun/interesting about Chicago since you've been here?

Amy: I love the lakefront! It makes the city feel much less boxed-in than the East Coast cities I grew up around.

Ian: I won’t say that I know that much about Chicago even though my family has been here since 1997. I just moved to Rogers Park and am looking forward to discovering the many quirks of all the amazing neighborhoods all around the city. I can say it will be really really nice to live just a few stops away from my Cubbies.

Is there a book or movie/tv series you think would make a good opera?

Amy: For an opera, I feel like I need to pick something where a lot of people die - something like The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad.

Ian: This probably isn’t that original, but Game of Thrones has all the makings of a great opera. Death, betrayal, love, lust, dragons- the best part about it is that anyone can be killed off- never just the bad guy. I think plot wise, it matches up with all of the greats. There are so many opportunities for really long death scenes. And opera definitely needs more of those.


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