Founder and Executive Director
Allegra Montanari enjoys a multi-faceted career as entrepreneur, administrative leader, and professional cellist. In 2012, Ms. Montanari created Sharing Notes as a way to meaningfully connect music students with their Chicago community. Sharing Notes has been featured on WGN’s “Different Drummers”, ABC 7 Chicago, WYCC PBS Chicago, and in 2013 received the Friends of La Rabida Award for Community Partnership in honor of outstanding service to their patient population. Recently appointed to the staff of Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts, Allegra combines her background of teaching, entrepreneurship, and performance to serve as Director of the newly launched Center for Arts Leadership. For her experience with community engagement, Allegra has also led presentations for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, and the College Music Society’s National Conference in 2016. As a professional cellist, Ms. Montanari has performed with ensembles and artists across the country in venues ranging from United Center to Symphony Hall. Recent engagements include concerts with Ilya Kaler, Corky Siegel, Kygo, and the world premiere of Stuart Folse’s ‘Slane’ at Roosevelt University. Ms. Montanari graduated from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and completed her Masters at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where she was a student of John Sharp, Principal Cellist of the Chicago Symphony.
Michael Schneider earned a Bachelor Degree in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master Degree in viola performance from the Chicago College for Performing Arts. A teacher of both violin and viola, Schneider is a registered instructor through the Suzuki Association of the Americas. In addition to his work at ChiME, he is currently a professor of viola and violin at Carthage College, Program Assistant at Sharing Notes, and an instructor at the Chicago West Community Music Center. An advocate for music education through community development, Schneider launched a program with the Illinois Youth Center of Chicago to bring live music performances to the incarcerated youth at this facility. A prolific performer and active member of the Chicago arts community, Schneider is constantly looking for ways to bring music alive by collaborating with local music organizations, chamber ensembles, and orchestras. He has appeared in concerts throughout the United States, Italy, and Japan. In addition to his regular live performances, Schneider can be heard on various recordings including O Emmanuel, by the Fifth House Ensemble, which debuted at number one on the Billboard top 100 chart in the Traditional Classical Albums category.
At the age of two, Sarah Kovich decided she was going to play violin just like her grandmother. After five years of begging, she finally started lessons at the age of seven while her family was stationed at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. As a young artist currently living and working in Chicago, Sarah enjoys the performing, teaching, and administrative experience the city has to offer. During the summer of 2016, Sarah worked as an intern for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s education department. Later that same year, the Chicago College of Performing Arts named her their annual Human Innovation Endowed Scholarship recipient. Sarah has been involved with Sharing Notes since 2013, where she has experienced the joy of bringing music to Prentice Women’s Hospital, the Cardiac Care Unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and La Rabida Children’s Hospital. She is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Violin Performance at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, where she studies with Almita Vamos.
Margaret Izard, mezzo-soprano, performs regionally on the operatic stage and as a soloist with her art song company, Artful Song. As a teacher, Margaret believes that voice lessons should be a safe space to experiment with what our voices are capable of doing. Ms. Izard’s 2016-2017 season included the title role in Miss Manners on Music, the world premier of Naomi from Joseph’s Gift, and Maman and Un Pâtre from L’enfant et les Sortilèges. Past roles include Hänsel/Hänsel und Gretel and Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni. During her time as a resident artist at Dicapo Opera Theate, Ms. Izard performed the roles of Tisbe/La Cenerentola, and Zita/Gianni Schicchi. Ms. Izard has also performed the role of Zita alongside director and performer Alfonso Antoniozzi. Other work includes covering the role of Spring Beauty/Snegurochka.
Ms. Izard’s premieres include the role of Magic Mirror/The Magic Mirror by Polina Nazaykinskaya and covering the roll of Roma/The Fiddler and the Old Woman of Rumelia by Ketty Nez, both with Juventas New Music Ensemble. Although Ms. Izard loves the world of opera, she is also very interested in symphonic works and song. Ms. Izard has been the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Cantata 79 and Bach’s Cantata 126. Ms. Izard also has a strong interest in art song and co-founded the salon concert company, Artful Song. The mission of Artful Song is to recreate the salon experience of the 19th century for modern audiences while providing context for audience members through the historical significance of this underperformed repertoire. Ms. Izard received her BA from Emory University and her MM in Voice at the Chicago College of Performing Arts where she is continuing her studies with Judith Haddon.
Originally from Latvia, Magdalena Sustere is a cellist who is passionate about music in a wide variety of forms. From playing classical to World music, she finds joy in taking part in various projects. Her passion is reflected in her versatile career, encompassing the baroque, classical, and modern genres, as well as opera, gospel, musicals, world music, jazz, and improvisation. Ms. Sustere serves as freelance studio recording artist, educator, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. Magdalena is principal cellist for Chicago Composers’ Orchestra, sectional cellist with Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra and Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, and cellist with Chicago based Sonder Trio. Additionally, she runes private cello studio and teaches at El Sistema in Cathalist Circle Rock in Chicago and Science Academy of Chicago, and plays with several Chicago based theater companies. Ms. Sustere loves collaborations, is a strong supporter of new music, and loves sharing music with anyone!