Leighann Daihl Ragusa
Chicagoan at a Glance
Favorite Chicago restaurant: Portillo's
Favorite Chicago landmark: Old Marshall Field's Building. In particular, the huge clocks that hang outside and the Tiffany glass mosaic ceiling.
Favorite Chicago neighborhood: Hyde Park
Favorite Chicago sports team: I don't watch sports. Who has time for that?
Favorite Chicago deep dish pizza joint: Giordano's
Chicago-style hot dogs: No
Why did you go into music - and specifically your field?
At the end of 3rd grade we were allowed to pick 2 instruments to try on instrument tryout day. I chose the viola because I didn't want to play the violin, which my brother played. I couldn't decide on a second instrument so I just picked the flute because a few of my close friends did. The rest is history. I fell in love with the flute and I am the only one of my elementary friends that stuck with it. Fast forward to the year spent studying in England after undergrad. There were 6 students in the flute studio and one by one we each had to take a plastic Baroque flute home for three weeks, along with a fingering chart, and figure out how to play the instrument. At the end of the three weeks we had to play a sonata for our teacher and classmates. It was during those three weeks of figuring out how to play the plastic baroque flute that I began to see a new world open up. I was never satisfied with playing Bach or Telemann on modern flute, and now that I had this foreign instrument in my hands, I began to see the possibilities. After I finished my year in England, I returned to the states and bought my very own wood baroque flute at the National Flute Convention where I had to try the flute in the convention parking garage (not ideal for such a delicate instrument) because it was too loud in the exhibit hall.
What's something quirky about how you do your craft that others don't?
I find it comforting to get my music ready for performances. I was the orchestra librarian in college so I have a lot of experience making parts, eliminating multiple page turns, etc. When learning new music I copy my music (making sure it is legible/big enough to see), hole punch it, tape the pages together to facilitate easy page turns, highlight the repeats (there are a lot in 18th-century music), and put it in my binder. Then I have nothing to worry about (hopefully) except for playing pretty!
What's a funny story about your time living or working in Chicago?
Last year during one of the BBE's Carols programs one of the singers did a little improv variation of one of the carols where she created a unique text about Amelia Earhart and a Rhinoceros. Then, our very own Thomas Alaan, imitated the sounds of a rhinoceros. I have never laughed so hard while trying to play my flute!