If there’s such a thing as an “honorary alum,” Dana Green would be it. Though he wasn’t himself a member of CYSO, Dana’s father Michael Green was a percussionist with CYSO back in the 1960’s (and then went on to serve as timpanist with the Grant Park Symphony for more than 40 seasons). Dana didn’t play with CYSO as a young person, but joined our artistic staff in fall 2016, leading Debut Orchestra, our first level full orchestra. During the week, Dana is director of orchestras at Vernon Hills High School, and previously worked with Naperville North High School, Mill Street and Naper Elementary School, and served as one of the directors of West Suburban Youth Orchestra for a decade. We sat down with Dana Green to find out about the journey that led him to conducting and why Sue the T-rex still holds a special place in his heart.
How long have you been with CYSO?
This is my first season with the CYSO, and I’m extremely excited to be part of the organization.
Did you always know you wanted to lead an orchestra? What was your career/education path to get here?
Both of my parents are musicians and I loved tagging along with them to their rehearsals and concerts. Music was always important to me but I wasn’t always certain it would be my career. In fact I went through a period in middle school when I thought I’d be a paleontologist.
I continued playing the violin and entered the orchestra at my high school. Orchestra was by far my favorite class. I loved that it was a place I could count on to provide me with the opportunity to be creative and to work together with my friends. I loved it so much that I realized I wanted to study music in college. I pushed aside my previous ambitions to be a dinosaur hunter and started auditioning for music school. After a year of college I took my first class in music education and it has been a perfect fit ever since.
Orchestra was by far my favorite class. I loved that it was a place I could count on to provide me with the opportunity to be creative and to work together with my friends.
When you aren’t conducting, what is your primary instrument?
Violin. I began playing at the age of 5. (I’m also the world’s worst erhu player)
What’s the best advice you received when you were learning to play?
“Practice makes permanent.” It’s not just about quantity, it’s also about quality.
What advice would you give CYSO students, or young people thinking of auditioning for CYSO?
Do it! This is the most fantastic musical organization in the world and if you are fortunate enough to live in the Chicago-land area you NEED to take advantage of this cultural pearl. The many offerings the CYSO provides insure that there’s a place for musicians of a variety of ages and levels of experience.
If you weren’t a conductor, what career would you want to try?
It’s so hard imaging my life without music as I feel I would not fully be myself. However, I have always wondered what it would be like to spend my days studying dinosaurs. I still love staring up at their massive skeletons at the Field Museum.
“Practice makes permanent.” It’s not just about quantity, it’s also about quality
What’s something fun about you that most people don’t know?
I can perform at least one mind blowing coin trick.