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Alumni Profile: Macie Stewart

Photo by Maren Celest
A versatile violinist, pianist and singer, Macie Stewart has developed a life of music from her time as a student in the Community Music Division to now as a professional musician. A student at the Community Music Division for eight years, Macie studied piano with Regina Syrkin and violin with Corina Lobont. She performs as part of the duo OHMME with Sima Cunningham and plays violin and piano with the band Marker. She is currently releasing an album as a member of OHMME which was released at the end of August. The duo are especially involved in performing and working for venues within the local experimental music scene. Macie and Sima are constant collaborators and have recorded and toured with homegrown acts as varied as Tweedy, Whitney, Chance The Rapper and Twin Peaks.

How did your time in the DePaul Community Music Division prepare you for your career now?

In the Community Music Division, I took piano lessons from Regina Syrkin and violin lessons from Corina Lobont. I played in the youth orchestra and piano duets. While studying at DePaul CMD, I made some good friends there that I’m still in touch with. The biggest thing was that I learned to be a well-rounded musician. My teachers encouraged me to have discipline in my practicing. That was a really important thing to have at a young age. Without that, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today and wouldn’t be able to accomplish all of the things I am able to now. My experience at DePaul was great and I was lucky something so consistent in my life from ages 9 to 18.

What did you learn at the Community Music Division that has stuck with you the most all these years?

The Concerto Festival had a lasting impact on me. I loved it and it was my first experience playing on a large stage. I was lucky enough to perform with the orchestra. That’s something you don’t get to do every day. Even though I’m not playing as much classical repertoire now, it still remains with me. To have the orchestra supporting you as you play was a unique experience.

Also, in the Youth Orchestra, the instructors encouraged us to be really creative. I wrote a piece that was performed by the Youth Orchestra. I wrote something, put my heart into, and they played it. I remember the experience being incredible and being very excited about it.

Do you still play Classical repertoire?

I’ve been practicing a lot of the Chopin preludes and etudes to keep my technique up. It’s a beautiful way to practice, besides scales (which I also do). I loved Scriabin. The piece “Jeux d’Eau” by Ravel is probably one of my favorite pieces.

What advice would you give current students?

Keep practicing! And have fun with it. You do need a lot of discipline to excel at music, but the point of music is to have fun. You have to work hard, but you also have to learn when to pause or take a break. That was something I learned in the Community Music Division. If you have a muscle pain, pause. You can take a pause for five minutes. Sometimes you need a day long break. When you come back from that break, your piece might be better or it could be more fun to play again because you took that time away from it.

What’s next?

OHMME released our new record on the August 24th. Then we go on a US tour until October 5. The longest one I’ve had yet. I’m excited to get on the road after a summer to refresh.