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Laura Osterlund

Chicagoan at a Glance

Favorite Chicago restaurant - Ann Sather
Favorite Chicago landmark - the lake!
Favorite Chicago neighborhood - Hyde Park
Favorite Chicago sports team - Cubs
Favorite Chicago deep dish pizza joint - Giordano's
Chicago-style hot dogs? - Ye

Why did you go into music - and specifically your field?

Music was the greater love of my two main interests in high school (music and English). I always wanted to champion the recorder, and I was fortunate to have many opportunities growing up to pursue the recorder and early music--even if that meant waiting all year to attend a summer early music festival or, in my senior year, driving to St. Paul, Minnesota for a four-hour recorder lesson once a month. With music, I felt I could instantly express and convey my deepest feelings. The idea to pursue a musical path first arose in childhood; so, when it came time to make a firm decision, after years of hard work and investment, the choice seemed almost inevitable. 

What's something quirky about how you do your craft that others don't?

I became incredibly interested in music theory, early music analysis, and counterpoint during my undergraduate degree at McGill, so much so that I thought I might become an academic! Fortunately, that did not happen, but I learned how to write counterpoint, which helped a lot in writing compositions in the style of 15th-century Italian music for my master's lecture-recital. I also spent hours analyzing the music I listened to in my mind. To this day, I love listening to any music--be it early music, classical, or Taylor Swift--and analyzing what makes it work. I think I bring this listening, whether consciously or unconsciously, into my playing and interpretive choices. 

What communities in Chicago do you identify with that have meaning to you and why?

There's a strong American Recorder Society presence in Chicago, encompassing a lot of players who still meet regularly in Oak Park every Tuesday night. I started out playing in this amateur group with my dad when I was in junior high and high school. Since then, gotten to teach and direct a number of the members I developed alongside. I also identify strongly with people who have left Chicago and returned or who travel a lot but to whom Chicago will always remain home. After growing up in Oak Park all my life, I went to college in Montreal, Canada for five years, then came back, then went to South Africa for nine months, then came back, then did my master's degree in Cleveland, and am now back at last. 

What's a funny story about your time living or working in Chicago?

If you search "vielle" on YouTube my video interview for The Video Catalyst Project (formerly known as Dogstar7) is still the second search result. I started busking in metros in my final year as a student in Montreal, and I took that practice to Chicago in my first year after school, where I would take my vielle usually and play medieval music from memory on street corners. I experienced everything from a freelance photographer asking to take a photo of me playing by the Picasso, a saxophonist asking me to team up with him for more tips, the video interview, and articles about busking in the Forest Park Review. Here is a link to the video and articles:

Don't miss Laura in:

Chicago Stories: Book Two

Tickets on sale now!

And check out our other artists' stories!