credit: britography
photo: britography

Known for her soulful, expressive playing style, cellist Jean Hatmaker is one of the most versatile musicians in the Chicago area with a diverse portfolio of solo and collaborative projects across a wide range of musical and interdisciplinary settings. Her engaging and intuitive demeanor has made her a sought-after collaborator, from the Bach Cantata Vespers Series at Grace Lutheran Church of River Forest, IL and various classical chamber and orchestral ensembles, to performances with contemporary and folk musicians, and dance companies all across the country such as Hubbard Street Dance and Malashock Dance Company. Recent highlights include performing as solo cellist in the onstage band of Broadway in Chicago’s production of Oklahoma!, continuo cello for St. John Passion with the Apollo Chorus, and the 2021 release of her album, Modern Muses, with soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg, on Navona Records. Included on Modern Muses is Ms. Hatmaker’s second composition for solo cello, a 6 minute work titled ahimsa.

Ms. Hatmaker is a founding member of the Chicago-based Kontras Quartet, a beloved ensemble known for its well-crafted performances, diverse programming, and accessible audience relations. Kontras Quartet has brought its message of inclusivity to concerts across the US, Europe, and Africa, and 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 Elmhurst University, Grace Lutheran School of River Forest, as well as at her private studio in her home in Oak Park; she frequently teaches as a guest clinician at schools all 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.

Currently she serves as recording secretary on the board of directors for the Musicians Club of Women, a longstanding organization in Chicago devoted to supporting women in music. She received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Cello Performance from Indiana University, where she studied with Helga Winold and Janos Starker, and plays a modern cello by Lawrence Wilke, using Hill and Bearden bows.

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