Faculty Profile

Dr. Marie Alatalo

NMS Piano Faculty


Dr. Marie Alatalo has appeared in concerts throughout the United States and Japan, capturing attention with a repertoire embracing both classical and contemporary literature. She has been heard in such popular Chicago venues as the Chicago Cultural Center, Mayne Stage, Pianoforte, Music Institute of Chicago, WFMT radio, Pick Staiger Concert Hall, Mostly Music Chicago concert series, Driehaus Museum, People’s Music School and Cliff Dwellers Club.

Alatalo’s lifelong dedication to arts education is rooted in her own background, first as a scholarship student at Interlochen, where she graduated from the Arts Academy, spent summers at the music camp, and was a faculty member. She continued her studies at the University of Michigan and earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she was Teaching Assistant to Rebecca Penneys. She was a longtime faculty member at the Music Institute of Chicago and directed the Piano Program at the Cazadaro (CA) Performing Arts Camp. Alatalo is recognized as a Founding Teacher for the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program, for which she serves as Center Representative. Believing that music should be shared, she organizes opportunities for her students to perform in community settings, including retirement homes, Make Music Chicago, and other venues. Her students have won competition prizes, top state honors in the Music Development Program, and attended summer programs at Interlochen, Northwestern, and the Chautauqua Institution. Alatalo’s conviction is that every child should obtain proficiency in the arts and contribute to the artistic community.

As a performer, Alatalo’s diverse interests have led her to a multi‐faceted career. Her involvement with 20/21st century music brought her to the Chautauqua Institution (NY), where she presented a lecture‐recital on George Crumb’s “Five Pieces for Piano”. She was coached by Crumb during the Music Institute of Chicago’s “George Crumb Project”, and performed both “Five Pieces for Piano” and “Eleven Echoes of Autumn”. She has been soloist with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, performing Michael Torke’s “Rust” and Joseph Schwantner’s “... and the mountains rising nowhere”. She collaborated with a piano quartet to give the Chicago premiere of Lee Hoiby’s “Dark Rosaleen”, and recorded John Adams’ “Hallelujah Junction” under a grant from the Chicago Area Music Teachers Association. She has been the pianist for the Eastman School of Music Musica Nova Ensemble and can be heard with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on the Sony release ”Live in Osaka”, recorded during a tour of Japan. Extending her performances beyond the concert hall, she presented programs in conjunction with various art openings at the Cliff Dwellers Club, where she was Artist‐in‐Residence, and in the theater, when she designed and performed music for the AKA Rachel Production of the female monologue comedy revue, “The Bridesmaids”. In order to introduce music to children at a young age, she was featured in Pianoforte’s Family Series, and has provided workshops on contemporary compositional techniques for Suzuki workshops.

Her first CD of solo piano music, “Sonatas”, features examples of the genre from Scarlatti through Prokofiev. This was followed by a CD of the complete Chopin Preludes, funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, and a third CD, which includes pieces by American composers. Alatalo has received numerous awards and competition prizes, including two Community Arts Assistance Program Grants (Chicago), and fellowships to the Eastman School of Music and the Chautauqua Institution. She is listed in “Two Thousand Notable American Women”, and in the “World’s Who’s Who of Women”. Always interested in expanding her knowledge, she attended the Teachers Program of the Van Cliburn Institute, symposiums sponsored by the Performing Arts Medicine Association of Medical Problems of Musicians and Dancers in Aspen, Colorado, and the Music Entrepreneurship conference at Brevard Music Center.

In addition to performing, Ms. Alatalo has produced concerts in Chicago and the surrounding areas. She co‐founded and held the position of Artistic Director for Batavia Classics, which presented and promoted both established and emerging artists, including the Vermeer Quartet and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She was Managing and Artistic Director for Mostly Music Chicago, where she expanded the series to bring chamber music to the Driehaus Museum and Charles Dawes House (Evanston).

Alatalo also lectures and writes. She was the Music Lecturer on board the “River Countess”, a river boat which sails from Budapest to Amsterdam and has presented lecture recitals for regional and state divisions of MTNA. She has both written for and been the subject of articles published by “Clavier” magazine.

Alatalo frequently judges piano competitions, including the Chautauqua International Piano Competition, Emilio del Rosario Concerto Competition, Society of American Musicians, Interlochen Arts Camp Concerto Competition, and numerous local and regional contests. She is an Apprentice Examiner for the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program.

Alatalo was raised in a Finnish community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and has fond memories of sledding and snowmobiling, playing the organ for two churches, and spending quality time with her mother during their bi‐weekly hour‐long commute to piano lessons at the nearest university. She currently lives near the lake in Evanston.