Ashlee Hardgrave

Ashlee Hardgrave is a musician, writer, cat mom, politics wonk, recovering arts school administrator, and current law school administrator (same issues, less clarinet and theatre majors). She has subjected her friends, family, and social media to her bold opinions on the arts for years, so she’s thrilled to be on a weekly show to give those folks a break.

Ashlee trained as a classical musician, and has spent the last fifteen years making art on her own terms. You’ll find her singing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus, premiering new musicals and orchestral works, performing in churches for various divinities, writing scripts and songs for the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, and lobbying for equity and access in arts education. A music graduate of Roosevelt and Arkansas Tech Universities, she also consults for music schools, nonprofits, and private clients on ways to change the arts education game.

When she’s not working, she’s actively attempting to be a better human, breaking molds and stereotypes, helping others do the same, and telling stories about her life that begin with “I can’t make this *#$! up,” so again, it’s good that she’s here.

I love opera because:

it’s the ultimate amalgamation of performance and storytelling. music, acting, plot, virtuosity, it’s all there and all must be strong for an impactful experience.

Favorite singer: Beverly Sills. No further questions.

Shows: to sing? Cosí. To watch? Tough call, I’ll go 20th Century English.

Sports allegiances: All things Chicago, Arkansas Razorbacks.

What story should be an opera but isn’t (yet): I would love to see an opera about Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes.

Craziest opera moment: singing Mercedes to Samuel Ramey’s Toreador in front of 4,000 people. I was 23. It was terrifying.