Selected Student Bios

John Atorino

John Atorino hails from Ridgewood, New Jersey where he attended the public schools. At age seven he began studying piano, and at the age of eleven, discovered his passion for singing and acting on stage. Thus his education in choral/vocal music and theater commenced. Throughout high school, John sang with various choruses and choirs in New Jersey, composed music, performed in a dozen plays and musicals and directed various summer theater camps in Ridgewood.

In 2002, John left the east coast to pursue music education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he studied conducting with Dr. Jerry Blackstone and voice with Carmen Pelton. Inspired by these professors, he searched for creative outlets beyond the walls of the classroom. He began by sound- scoring plays and composing music for various student projects, and serving as music director and arranger for Pippin, presented by the student theater group, MUSKET. He also became immersed in the Department of Student Affairs' Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, where for three years he created and implemented a men's activism program that organized workshops for men's groups on campus. After graduation, John worked as a paid summer intern under Peter McDowell, in the department of public music programs at the Chicago Cultural Center. During this time, he was the assistant director for a production of The Magic Flute, the curator of a photography exhibition for the Gay Games VII, and co- produced and managed the Sondheim in the Park event in Millennium Park.

In 2006, John was hired as a conductor for the Chicago Children's Choir and was able to connect with students from all over the city of Chicago. After a year in this position, John became the music teacher at a Chicago’s Social Justice High School where, through grants, he purchased 28 electric keyboards and began a piano lab class in which he taught piano skills and music through the lens of community struggle and community action. During three years at Social Justice, John developed and initiated a choir program, an after-school drama club, a lights, sound, and theater tech club, a monthly student open mic series and the school’s inaugural day-long community arts festival showcasing its various arts programs and student work.

Before moving back to the East Coast, John competed in the Chicago Triathlon and is now riding his bike around Brooklyn, NY. After completing his M.A. in Music Education from NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, John plans to return to teaching to promote holistic music education in an urban setting.