Atlas, Curry bring harmony to musical community

Danielle Joseph and Hannah Kahhat

An inseparable connection to music. That is all it took to convince Rachel Atlas, the Glenbrooks’ new co-orchestra director, to change her college major from pre-med to music. Between Atlas, a new addition to the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra (GSO) team and Drew Curry, the new associate choir director,  the Glenbrook Fine Arts family is getting a little bit bigger this year with new staff additions.

Atlas believes that her bond with music comes from her passion for orchestra. She fell in love with music when she began to play piano in kindergarten, and this love continued to grow when she joined the GSO when she attended North.

“A lot of [my love for music] comes from really passionate music teachers and from playing in a high quality ensemble, [which] really gives you [a sense of] pride,” Atlas said.

As for Curry, his passion for music was fueled by his high school choir teacher, who showed him how much fun it is to make music and become a better and more skilled musician, he said. In fact, he explained, it was during high school when Curry realized that choir was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.  

“I love how [in choir], we all come in with one purpose: to complete this song or to perform this piece,” Curry said. “There is a huge team building aspect to it that I think is super fun. Some of the best choirs that I’ve ever heard or ever been a part of have always had a really amazing structure of teamwork and community.”

Already, these two new staff members are fitting in well with the Glenbrook community. Choir Director Robert Shellard said that Curry was the perfect candidate for the position. According to Shellard, Curry brings a unique perspective to the Fine Arts department because of his previous experience and his continuing performances as a bass player, a keyboardist, and a singer. 

“He’s regularly performing outside of school, so he can really speak to students about that lifestyle,” Shellard said. 

Cody Halberstadt, Fine Arts Department Instructional Supervisor, believes that Atlas’s connection with the GSO will help her carry on its traditions. 

“I think she really has a clear understanding of that tradition of excellence we have,” Halberstadt explained. “It is something that internalizes and carries pride in our organization.”

Curry feels that student growth is a strong indication of his success as a choir director. When students leave a class, he wants them to have clear improvement in musicianship, work ethic, and determination. In addition to watching students grow, Curry said that one of his favorite parts of his new role is leading student singing groups.    

“I think the most fun I’ve had [as a choir director] has been conducting [for] vocal jazz groups,” Curry said. “It’s so fun and engaging for the students [and] for me as well. Here at [South], I’ll be doing Scat That, which is our vocal jazz program, and I’m excited to have that opportunity.”

Above all, they’re both excited to get back to music, what they enjoy most, after a strange year that was largely void of an in-person audience or chances to perform live.

“My dad used to say, ‘If you love what you do then you’ll never work a day in your life’” Atlas said. “That’s how I feel when I am directing orchestra. It is so fulfilling, it doesn’t feel like work, it is more like enjoyment of every moment of life.”