Biography

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Jean Hatmaker is one of the most versatile and passionate cellists in the Chicago area, with a diverse portfolio of solo and collaborative projects across a wide range of musical and interdisciplinary styles. Recent projects (since the onset of the 2020 pandemic) include a two-part livestream performance series of all 6 Bach solo cello suites, and a studio album of contemporary music for soprano and cello with vocalist Josefien Stoppelenburg, Modern Muses, set for release in spring of 2021. Included on Modern Muses is Ms. Hatmaker’s second composition for solo cello, a 6 minute work titled ahimsa. Her warm and engaging playing style has made her a sought-after collaborator in a variety of settings, from the Bach Cantata Vespers Series at Grace Lutheran Church of River Forest, IL, to performances with dancers from companies all across the country such as Hubbard Street Dance, contemporary and folk music ensembles, as well chamber and orchestral music.

Ms. Hatmaker is a founding member of the Chicago-based Kontras Quartet, a beloved ensemble known for their well-crafted performances, diverse programming, and accessible audience relations. Kontras Quartet has brought their message of inclusivity to concerts across the US, Europe, and Africa, in addition to local appearances as WFMT artists-in-residence and on celebrated series such as Rush Hour. KQ frequently performs with bluegrass trio the Kruger Brothers, with whom they have appeared at festivals including Telluride, MerleFest, and IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass, as well as the Late Show with David Letterman. Kontras Quartet has released three commercial albums: Lucid Dreamer and Roan Mountain Suite with the Kruger Brothers, on Double Time Records; and Origins, on MSR Records. 

Ms. Hatmaker has an extensive background of orchestral playing as former principal cellist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Western Piedmont Symphony, and other regional orchestras throughout the Midwest; she is currently principal cellist with Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra. 

One of Ms. Hatmaker’s main aspirations as a musician is to use her music to connect with people; she inspires future generations of musicians as a faculty instructor at Oak Park String Academy and Elmhurst University, where she also founded the Elmhurst University Cello Choir, and frequently teaches as a guest clinician at schools across the country. She recognizes the responsibility of her role as a mental wellness advocate in the lives of her students, and often works with youth in challenging circumstances to use the performing arts as a tool for coping and growth. She holds a certification in Mental Health First Aid.

Ms. Hatmaker currently serves on the board of directors for Chicago’s Musicians Club of Women as Vice President, and Awards Officer. She received both Bachelor (with High Distinction) and Master of Music degrees in Cello Performance from Indiana University, in the studios of Helga Winold and Janos Starker, and plays on a European cello of unknown provenance circa 1880, using Hill and Bearden bows.