7409 N. Greenview Ave. 2E

Chicago, IL 60626-1918

(773) 573-9181

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

Staff

"I improved my musical talent through the dedication and consideration of the staff." 
-- Camper reflection

Our teaching staff includes both established professionals and graduate students from some of the most highly regarded music schools in the nation. All are experienced, caring teachers, passionate about making FMC a month of musical growth for all our campers.

Our counselors are often musicians as well. Many are former campers who return to help share the FMC experience with the next generation.

Directors

Peg Champney is the founding director of FMC. A life-long friend and for many years an educator in an alternative Friends school, Peg started FMC in 1980 with her friend Jean Putnam. She is a highly honored presence at music camp, where she has influenced many generations of young people with her kindness, strength, and love of music. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Nicholas Hutchinson is a co-director and a pianist at FMC. He has taught piano for over twenty-five years to students of all ages.  He maintains a private studio in Chicago and has taught at various institutions including the Chelsea Center for the Arts and the Steppingstone School for the Potentially Gifted. 
In addition to his work with piano students, Dr. Hutchinson works extensively with classically trained singers.  He is director of education for the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization dedicated to the study and performance of art song and vocal chamber music.  He is a lecturer in the voice department at DePaul University, and in 2014 he was the program administrator for SongFest, an intensive summer training program for singers and collaborative pianists, held at the Colburn School in Los Angeles.

Dr. Hutchinson has performed throughout the United States as both collaborator and soloist.  He is a prizewinner of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Kosciuzko Foundation National Chopin Competition, and was a finalist in the Oberlin International Piano Competition.  He holds degrees in piano performance and collaborative piano from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.  His former teachers include Martin Katz, Louis Nagel, Arthur Greene, and Yong Hi Moon.

Band and Brass

Michael Mikulka is a composer and horn player currently based in Austin, Texas, where he completed his Doctorate in Composition at the University of Texas. Michael has been named a winner or finalist of 32 composition contests and calls for scores, and his music has been performed by members of the Dallas, Seattle, Vancouver, and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras, as well as by performance faculty at colleges around the country.


Michael is the creator and operator of newbandmusic.org and newchambermusic.org, which promote the self-published music of emerging composers for free. He was also the creator and conductor of the Vine Orchestra, which premiered over 50 six-second compositions.

Chorus

Elias King is a second-year faculty member at Friends Music Camp.  He is a choral educator serving at Greenfield High School in Wisconsin, where he teaches choir, piano, guitar, and music listening classes.  Additionally, he provides music direction for the school's annual musical, and for several variety shows.  He obtained his BFA in Music Education from the Peck School of the Arts in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  

 

During his studies, Eli composed and supervised music for the student films Gemütlichkeit, and Angela.  In addition, he composed incidental music for student productions of Gint and The Crucible.  Eli has also served as a music director and accompanist in community theatre productions of Avenue Q and Cabaret.

Guitar

Rory Papania is overjoyed to be spending his fourth summer at FMC  after two years as a camper. In addition to his duties as a dorm counselor, Rory also leads the guitar/sing class as well as a beginning acting class. He holds a Bachelor of Specialized Studies with a concentration in Global Politics and Human Rights from Ohio University, where he spent much of his time as a member of the Singing Men of Ohio. He released three albums from 2011-2013 as a member of the bands Wheels and self-recorded and released his own solo album, Golden, in 2016 under the moniker Gaptooth Grin. You might find him playing guitar, bass, drums, or singing at your local dive by himself or as a member of various musical projects. Or you might not find him at all due to his propensity for traveling and his tendency to get lost in the woods.

Orchestra and Strings

From an early age, Russian-born violinist Dr. Maria Bessmeltseva has performed in the concert halls of Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Italy, and the United States of America. Dr. Bessmeltseva's solo career has taken her from the celebrated stages of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Carnegie Hall in New York City to the Glinka Philharmonic Chamber Hall and St. Petersburg State Capella in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has appeared as a soloist with the Symphony of the Mountains in Tennessee, the Southern Great Lakes Symphony in Michigan, the Firelands Symphony in Ohio, and the Hot Springs Music Festival Orchestra in Arkansas. In addition to her live performances, Dr. Bessmeltseva has also appeared on local TV and radio stations in Bloomfield Hills, MI, Rutland, VT, and South Hadley, MA.  Dr. Bessmeltseva earned her degrees from Oberlin College, Bowling Green State University and University of Michigan. 

‚Äč

While not performing, Dr. Bessmeltseva teaches at various summer music festivals, including PhoenixPhest Chamber Music Festival in Ann Arbor, MI, Summer String Camp at BGSU in Bowling Green, OH, and Friends Music Camp in Barnesville, OH. She has also served as a judge at the Ohio Music Teachers Association State Buckeye Audition and the Ohio Music Teachers National Association Competition.  Dr. Bessmeltseva has been teaching at Heidelberg University since 2016.

Piano

Nicholas Hutchinson is a co-director and a pianist at FMC. He has taught piano for over twenty-five years to students of all ages.  He maintains a private studio in Chicago and has taught at various institutions including the Chelsea Center for the Arts and the Steppingstone School for the Potentially Gifted. 
In addition to his work with piano students, Dr. Hutchinson works extensively with classically trained singers.  He is director of education for the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization dedicated to the study and performance of art song and vocal chamber music.  He is a lecturer in the voice department at DePaul University, and in 2014 he was the program administrator for SongFest, an intensive summer training program for singers and collaborative pianists, held at the Colburn School in Los Angeles.

Dr. Hutchinson has performed throughout the United States as both collaborator and soloist.  He is a prizewinner of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Kosciuzko Foundation National Chopin Competition, and was a finalist in the Oberlin International Piano Competition.  He holds degrees in piano performance and collaborative piano from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.  His former teachers include Martin Katz, Louis Nagel, Arthur Greene, and Yong Hi Moon.

Woodwinds

Martha Hyde has taught at Friends Music Camp for over twenty of the forty years that the camp has existed. She has wide experience teaching all ages, having run band programs in New York City public schools as well as teaching one to one and in small classes in both public and private school settings. She is a co-founder of the New River Ensemble with Brendan Cooney and Lisa Liske-Doorandish. The group performs chamber concerts, live scores with silent film, and does interactive workshops.


As a performer Martha has played in venues ranging from Alice Tully Hall to CBGB's to the cathedral of St. John the Devine as well as tours on four continents. She can regularly be seen in the orchestra pits on Broadway and has performed with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg and Antonio Banderas. She is a member of the Gotham Wind Symphony which has released three CD's and she is also on numerous cast recordings.

Voice

Third year staff member Alissa Plenzler, soprano, teaches voice and directs the two-weeker musical.  Hailing from South Bend, Indiana, she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Dayton and will become a Master of Music student with the same concentration at Bowling Green State University this fall.  She has been an Emerging Artist for a six-week study in Arezzo with the Oberlin in Italy program, and last summer, traveled to Kamuela, Hawaii for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival singing the role of Papagena in Mozart’s The Magic Flute as well as Naiade and Spring in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.  Other notable roles are Gretel in Hansel and Gretel and Carmen Ghia in Schikele’s The Stoned Guest.

Dorm Counselors

Elias King is a second-year faculty member at Friends Music Camp.  He is a choral educator serving at Greenfield High School in Wisconsin, where he teaches choir, piano, guitar, and music listening classes.  Additionally, he provides music direction for the school's annual musical, and for several variety shows.  He obtained his BFA in Music Education from the Peck School of the Arts in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  

 

During his studies, Eli composed and supervised music for the student films Gemütlichkeit, and Angela.  In addition, he composed incidental music for student productions of Gint and The Crucible.  Eli has also served as a music director and accompanist in community theatre productions of Avenue Q and Cabaret.

Sophia Racke attended FMC for four summers as a camper and is delighted to return this year as a girl’s dorm counselor. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Davis as an international relations major specializing in peace and security. Due to her studies, Sophia’s had less time to pursue her love of music and acting so she’s very excited to return to an environment that constantly encourages the arts. Sophia hopes to rekindle her relationship with piano and voice at FMC this summer and can’t wait to rejoin the community that she believes shaped her childhood.

Carl Whitted, boys counselor and son of longtime staff member Martha Hyde, has been coming to FMC since he was five years old.  Now a member of staff himself, Carl looks forward to helping create the feeling of community he treasured as a camper.  

Corrie Van Ausdal is a writer, director and performer based in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Corrie began acting as a young child and remembers the musicals during her years as an FMC camper with great fondness. She has worked on the stage, on camera, as a voiceover artist and performance artist.  Corrie is well known for her portrayal of Apollonia in The Show Formerly Known As Purple Rain and for her solo performances of Sorry, Wrong Number and Braces, which she also wrote. In addition to Friends Music Camp, Corrie has directed plays and readings for The Living Room, The Fishtank (Kansas City), and the Yellow Springs Kids Playhouse, and taught acting for The Coterie Theatre. This fall she will debut an original serial podcast drama called Zombie High School.

Corrie spends her free time with her family, blogging about small town life (www.highinthemiddle.com), and playing lots of volleyball. Corrie greatly enjoys working with the campers at FMC and looks forward to their creative energy each year.  She has been on staff since 2010.
 

Staff Support

Erin Diffenderfer, staff childcare, has been attending FMC since 1999 with the exception of a two year hiatus between being a camper and counselor. She graduated in 2010 from Loyola University of Chicago where she majored in elementary and special education and minored in flute performance. During the year she teaches second grade at Cambridge Friends School. She absolutely loves getting to know and care for the staff children and campers alike. She has been inspired by the FMC staff since she was ten years old and is thrilled to be part of such a talented, committed, and creative group.