Allegra (/əˈlɛɡrə/; Italian: [alˈlɛːɡra]) is a female given name of Italian origin meaning joy (happy) or lively.
After meeting a cello in an instrument petting zoo for the first time in Texas, Allegra Montanari knew she had found the instrument for her. Over twenty years later, this love for the arts blossomed into an exciting and multi-faceted career as a professional cellist, teacher and administrative leader. As a performer, she has performed in ensembles such as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, New World Symphony, Sarasota Opera Orchestra, Charlottesville Opera and in recitals throughout the United States has collaborated with artists such as the Pacifica Quartet, Stefan Hersh, Orion Weiss, the Fifth House Ensemble and Corky Siegal’s Chamber Blues. Ms. Montanari taught cello as Adjunct Faculty at Carthage College, where she performed as a member of the Carthage Faculty Piano Trio, and at the Urban Prairie Waldorf School.
In 2012, Ms. Montanari created Sharing Notes, an award-winning 501(c)3 nonprofit, that organizes musicians to give engaging, interactive live performances for over 4,500 hospital patients and visitors each year. She served as Executive Director of the organization until 2020. Recently appointed to the staff of Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts, Allegra combined her background of performance, entrepreneurship and community engagement to serve as the first Director of the Center for Arts Leadership. Ms. Montanari graduated from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and completed her Masters at the Chicago College of Performing Arts where she was a student of John Sharp, Principal Cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
After meeting a cello in an instrument petting zoo for the first time in Texas, Allegra Montanari knew she had found the instrument for her. Almost twenty years later, this love at first sight has blossomed into an exciting and multi-faceted career as an administrative leader, professional cellist and music educator.
Allegra has performed extensively in orchestras across the nation. She has had the pleasure of playing principal for orchestras of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Round Top Festival Orchestra and the Spoleto Festival USA. Allegra has served as an Associate Member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and a Finalist for the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida. A big lover of opera, Allegra is a section member of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra has served as a member of the Ash Lawn Opera in Charlottesville, VA.
Also an avid chamber musician, she has received chamber instruction from some of the foremost musicians of our time including Shmuel Ashkenasi, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Roger Chase and William Preucil. She has performed chamber recitals throughout the United States and has collaborated with artists such as the Pacifica Quartet, Stefan Hersh, Orion Weiss and the Fifth House Ensemble. As a founding member of The Battery String Quartet, Allegra joined one of only two quartets invited to work closely with composer Joan Tower and the Muir Quartet in the Deer Valley Music Festival’s Emerging Quartets Program. In 2013, Allegra co-founded Duo Sogno with classical guitarist Jack Cimo and performed frequently across the Chicagoland area. She has also performed as guest cellist with new music ensemble Latitude 49 where she gave a world premiere of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Shulamit Ran at the Ear Taxi Festival 2016. In 2017, Ms. Montanari joined Corky Siegal’s Chamber Blues as team cellist and continues to perform with them for select shows of the 2018 season.
Dedicated to sharing her love of the cello, Ms. Montanari until recently maintained an active teaching career. Allegra has studied pedagogy with some of the foremost cello teachers of today including Janos Starker, Emilio Colon, Helga Winold and received Suzuki training from the Suzuki Association of Americas, Chicago Suzuki Institute. In addition, Allegra has performed in master classes for renowned pedagogues such as Richard Aaron, Andres Diaz, Thomas Landschoot, John Sharp and Peter Stumpf. Past teaching engagements include an Professor of Cello at Carthage College, where she is a member of the Carthage Faculty Piano Trio, and Cello Instructor at the Urban Prairie Waldorf School.
Lastly, Allegra maintains a strong commitment to helping music serve her community. In 2012, Ms. Montanari created Sharing Notes, a 501(c)3 not for profit public charity, that organizes musicians to share their gifts in engaging, interactive live performances for Chicago hospitals. Through her initiative, Sharing Notes has grown and each year now provides approximately 3,500 hospital patients and their loved ones with the healing power of music. She has created successful partnerships with healthcare institutions such as Northwestern Memorial Hospital, La Rabida Children’s Hospital and Lurie Children’s of Chicago. Committed to empowering young professionals, Allegra also instituted unique educational partnerships with the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Negaunee Institute to offer musicians who join Sharing Notes valuable community engagement skills. For her work, Ms. Montanari 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.
Ms. Montanari graduated from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University with High Distinction and a Business Minor. There Allegra studied with Professor Emilio Colon and had the opportunity to play several times for Janos Starker. Allegra 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 Orchestra.