Classical Kids Music Education is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that understands the consistent and powerful correlation between substantive arts experiences and child achievement as well as significant contributions to community regeneration.
That is why the organization works to enrich children’s lives and the communities where they live through direct access to culturally significant venues, professional artists and organizations, and high-quality theatrical concert productions while fostering new appreciation for classical music and music history.
To provide children with an exciting and educational point of entry into the world of classical music by humanizing the lives of the great composers, creating an emotional connection to their musical masterpieces, and inspiring a personal excellence that leads to greater achievement and success in life.
CKME believes that powerful stories drawn from true heroes of the past can inspire excellence in children to reach beyond themselves and their own potential.
To be the premiere organization using drama to lead children enthusiastically into the world of the great classical music composer.
To captivate, educate, enrich, and inspire young people through a cultural understanding of classical music and historical period.
To build new bridges between the music of the past, the children of today, and the audiences of tomorrow.
To change the world through the power of music.
Enriching young lives with emotional and exciting, fictional stories steeped in rich, historic fact.
Captivating a child’s attention through multi-arts disciplines, professional artists and theatrical production values.
Inspiring children to excellence in their own interest through a powerful human connection to music of the past.
Integrating artistic learning into multiple subject areas by supplying classroom support materials that encourage active exploration across the curricula.
- Strong Work Ethic
- Dependability and
- Possessing a Positive Attitude
- Honesty and Integrity
- Motivated to Grow & Learn
- Strong Self-Confidence
Establish a stronger Chicago-area presence benefitting local communities, schools, and organizations.
Create new program offerings while adding artistic enhancements to current productions.
Increase national and international programming collaborations with more orchestras to reach more children.
Establish a community home with space to offer early childhood music education classes and music resources.
Develop a comprehensive distance learning opportunity that will allow all children, especially those in rural areas, to participate in Classical Kids programming.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Alan Salzenstein is a Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, as head of the MFA/Arts Leadership and Performing Arts Management programs; and is currently President of the international academic organization, Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE). Salzenstein has held various Executive Director positions for a wide array of arts organizations over the past thirty years, and is pleased to bring his skills in organizational development, fundraising, and arts law to Classical Kids Music Education. In addition to a long history of theatrical producing, he has devised and overseen many special events and maintains an active consulting service for artists and arts organizations. He is a frequent invited speaker on topics of arts management and legal issues in the arts, having presented across North America, Europe and Asia. Salzenstein is also an attorney, focusing on issues relating to the performing arts industry.
President (& Interim Secretary)
Paul Pement serves as Executive and Artistic Director of Classical Kids Music Education, a non-profit arts organization focussed on introducing children to the extraordinary lives and musical masterpieces of the great classical composers. A BFA in theatre from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and professional experience as an actor, singer, dancer, director, choreographer and stage manager have enabled Paul to achieve success with Classical Kids LIVE! programming – the leader in the field of family concert programming presented by orchestras throughout North America and abroad. Over the past decade Mr. Pement has led the organization in processes that include strategic planning, board and committee development, financial accounting, funding development, community engagement, and marketing and communications. With the help of dedicated consultants, staff, and passionate board and committee members, Paul produces the Classical Kids theatrical symphony concert series reaching nearly 100 thousand children and their parents annually.
Natalie Berg is the former President of Julius Meinl North America, serving for 4 years as Managing Director and 8 years as Director of Marketing. She lends her 12 years of marketing and management experience towards Classical Kid’s development, fundraising and community events. Natalie’s involvement with Classical Kids began as a performer in Tchaikovsky Discovers America, adding her 23 years of professional acting skills to the company in 2006. Natalie has seen first-hand the impact these productions have on the thousands of children and families in attendance and cannot ignore this company’s need to reach more children. Natalie continues to serve abroad with Kids Alive International in Guatemala and fundraises for International Justice Mission annually. She is pleased to be able to partner with Classical Kids on the board level and is most excited for the creation of the newest production, Gershwin’s Magic Key. Natalie and her husband Matthew live in Chicago with their two children. Together they support the arts and work for every child to have an equal opportunity at life’s blessings.
With twenty-five years of experience, Andrew T. Kipe has served orchestras in five states and built a reputation for successfully rebuilding orchestral organizations. Most recently, Mr. Kipe served as Executive Director of the Louisville Orchestra. Prior to his appointment in Louisville, he served as the General Manger for The Phoenix Symphony, as Executive Director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, and as General Manager and Orchestra Manager of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Currently he serves as Director of Concert and Ensemble Operations at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. At the Peabody Institute he leads the four departments responsible for all concert activities, dance and opera performances, as well as the performance activities associated with Peabody Preparatory. Andrew will also continue to have an active role with the professional orchestral world through professional affiliations and project-based consulting work with orchestras and performing arts organizations.
Travis Newton is an Associate Professor at Le Moyne College, where he directs the Le Moyne College Symphony Orchestra and teaches courses in music and arts administration. An experienced musician, arts administrator and educator, Mr. Newton previously served as Operations Director of The Florida Orchestra in Tampa Bay. He also served in numerous roles at the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, including Operations Manager, Education Manager, and Director of Community Engagement. Newton serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Arts Administration Educators and presents regularly at arts administration conferences in the United States and abroad. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music and is the organization’s Director of Music Programming. Travis holds a Bachelor of Music in violin performance with secondary studies in voice and conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master of Business Administration from Le Moyne College.
Kara Kane serves as the Executive Director of The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association which sponsors the nation’s largest chamber music competition, and is America’s premier educational chamber music competition. She earned her BA double majoring in Music and Sociology at Rice University. Kara started her career as an IT consultant working for Ernst & Young, LLP, Continental Airlines and Northwestern University. She returned to Rice for a MM in voice and continued her studies at festivals in Aspen, Salzburg, and Rome. After being a member of the Aldeburgh Music’s Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme in their Education Residency, she found her niche as a teaching artist and arts administrator. Kara was the Director of Education for Chicago Opera Theater, taught as an adjunct voice instructor at University of Notre Dame, and serves as a teaching artist with Classical Kids Music Education’s Music Inspires! outreach program in the Chicago Public Schools. Kara resides in South Bend with her husband and three kids.
C.J. de Vera
C.J. de Vera is a Sr. Financial Accounting Analyst at The Walt Disney Company. He holds a Masters in Accounting and has prior management experience in the entertainment, food & beverage, and retail industries. Mr. de Vera has served as Sr. Accountant Manager for Gibsons Restaurant Group (Lake Buena Vista, FL), Finance Analyst for Entertainment Partners (Burbank, CA), and Accounting & Finance Manager for Julius Meinl North America (Chicago, IL).
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategy
Cynthia Clarey is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC and The Julliard School in New York City. She is an international opera star and recording artist with a career that has spanned 35 years. Now residing in Chicago, Cynthia is an educator on faculty at Roosevelt University, a member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals, and is proud to be a part of Acts Of Kindness Cabaret, an organization that performs to raise money for Chicago-area non-profit organizations. We are so grateful Cynthia is sharing her voice and perspective to help guide the important DEI efforts of Classical Kids.
Holly Robison (Chair)
Paul Pement (Ex-Officio)
Alan Salzenstein (Ex-Officio)
Marketing & Events
Natalie Berg (Co-Chair)
Holly Robison (Co-Chair)
Paul Pement (Ex-Officio)
Alan Salzenstein (Ex-Officio)
Education & Community Engagement
Kara Kane (Chair)
Paul Pement (Ex-Officio)
Alan Salzenstein (Ex-Officio)
C.J. de Vera (Chair)
Paul Pement (Ex-Officio)
Alan Salzenstein (Ex-Officio)
Seth Parker (Business)
Sara Murphy (Development)
Steve Robinson (Media)
Gideon Blustein (Political)
Susan Hammond (Creative)
Board Building & Organizational Development / Arts Action Research Philosophy.
Arts Consulting Group
Executive & Artistic Director
As Founder, Artistic Director and Executive Director of Classical Kids Music Education, NFP, Paul Pement puts forward his passion for the exploration and understanding of the human experience combined with his commitment to do good, give back, and help to make the world a better place.
As a child, Paul was drawn to all things music related. Singing with his musically talented family, especially his sister, laid an early foundation for his future as a professional actor and singer. Years in band and choir fed his developing musical passion. Musical Theatre became his performing platform. A Bachelor’s Degree in Acting from the University of Illinois combined with voice lessons and dance classes provided the training necessary to achieve membership in the professional actor’s union, Actor’s Equity Association, and perform in over 50 productions throughout Chicago and abroad. As a young adult, his boyish appearance led to countless kid roles in Theatre for Young Audience productions. His connection to children’s entertainment led him to produce two award-winning children’s educational music CDs. And so it seems fitting that the demands of Classical Kids culminated to this point, uniquely calling on all of his past experience and passion. As he puts it, “It’s interesting, when you feel you aren’t sure where you are going, to be able to look back and see a clear, seemingly deliberate path that led you to exactly where you are now.”
Paul’s professional theatrical training and experience as an actor, singer, musician, dancer, director, stage manager, arts administrator and producer as well as his instinct for choosing and working with talented collaborators who possess strong artistic and working values, make him all things central to the philosophy and decision making of the organization.
Development & Communications Manager
Finance & Business Manager
Consultant, Major Gifts
Susan Hammond & Classical Kids History
Classical Kids Live! is the leading provider of school and family concert series programming for major symphony orchestras throughout the world. For the past two decades, the concert series has collaborated with hundreds of distinguished orchestras, presenting more than a thousand performances, and introducing over two million children and their family members to the extraordinary lives and musical masterpieces of the great classical composers.
It all started with a $450 demo tape. That tape led series creator Susan Hammond of Toronto to make the first Classical Kids recording, Mr. Bach Comes to Call. Over two decades later, Classical Kids has grown to include best-selling and award-winning CDs, DVDs, educational resources, books and touring symphony productions.
Hard to believe that such a successful series started out from Susan Hammond’s dining room table. “One day I was reading to my girls with some music on in the background,” says Hammond. “I was struck by how they responded to the literature in a different way when enhanced by music. I thought, ‘I can do this!’” Her work paid off when, after an appearance on CBC radio, more than 4,000 listeners called the station, as well as Hammond’s home, to order Mr. Bach Comes to Call. Since that time, Classical Kids has created new generations of classical music fans through its unique blend of dramatic stories based on historical fact and musical masterpieces by the world’s best-loved composers. The audio series has sold millions of copies worldwide and holds more than 100 prestigious awards and honors.
To learn more about Susan Hammond, visit her website at SusanHammondMusic.com where you can view her bio, more information about Classical Kids, and her accomplishments as a Steinway Artist. The website also serves as a platform to launch her new book, ALL THINGS PIANO. It can be downloaded for free as a gift to her fellow musicians.
Paul Pement met Sue Hammond in the Fall of 2002 after a family friend put them in touch with each other. Sue was looking for the right person to produce the international symphony concert series from the US. Paul, an actor and director in Chicago, fit the bill. The two met in Toronto and hit it off. In 2003 an agreement was signed for Paul to independently produce the Classical Kids Live! symphony concert series world-wide through his own production company, Pement*Ent, Inc.
Over the years to come, Paul gained extensive experience and knowledge regarding the business-operational and artistic-production obligations required to professionally and successfully produce the concert series. The majority of his time, energy, and financial resources were focused on the improvement of operational systems and artistic production elements of the live shows.
The symphony concert series underwent major changes and made substantial gains in terms of performance growth and gross revenue due to the increase in marketing techniques, symphony advertising market reach, professional artistic advancements, production improvements, and operational efficiency. These gains depict renewed interest and advancement in the Classical Kids concert series.
Today, Classical Kids CDs and DVDs are produced and distributed by the Children’s Group, a division of Linus Entertainment out of Toronto. The Classical Kids Live! symphony concert series is now produced and presented by the not for profit organization Classical Kids Music Education, still led by Paul Pement out of Chicago, and provides symphony orchestras with exceptional, professional, and affordable theatrical concert productions in combination with comprehensive educational resources that instill a lifelong appreciation for classical music.
Sue Hammond’s influence and spirit are at the heart of Classical Kids Music Education and continues to be a central source of inspiration for its work. Paul’s theatrical background as an actor and director has provided him the professional experience necessary to envision and deliver high-quality, arts-educational entertainment. But more importantly, it is his core personal and artistic values, aligning with Sue’s original work and vision, which is central to the leadership and success of the organization’s mission and its continued work.
CKME reorganized as a not for profit organization in 2009 and as part of that process received a grant from the Arts Work Fund and engaged the Arts Consulting Firm to launch a strategic planning effort designed to revise its vision, mission and values and establish goals and objectives.
The strategic planning process was led by the Strategic Planning Committee, comprised of CKME board members, staff, and local community members involved in the arts. Additional feedback on the planning process was provided by the Community Advisory Committee whose participants included prominent members of the Chicago arts community.
We continue to reevaluate our goals and objectives on a yearly basis.
Board Building and Committee Development were identified by CKME’s strategic planning process as a crucial next step in the future development and success of the organization. The strategic plan highlighted the importance of having an active and influential board of directors in order to provide a strong organizational foundation. With generous support by the Arts Work Fund, CKME embarked on a unique Board Building & Development process guided by Kristin Patton of Ensemble Consulting and utilizing the philosophy of Arts Action Research.
Through the continued professional guidance of the consultant and the AAR model, the process ensures that CKME’s board, committees and support groups act together within their clearly defined roles, goals, priorities, and structure to effectively support the growth of the organization by harnessing structural support for successful new programming, organizational leadership, community partnerships, and funding development.
In addition to our ongoing internal development, we continue to foster opportunities for programmatic growth and further community reach. We look to support from individual donors, foundation grants, and corporate sponsors to fund the following projects:
Providing smaller orchestras with an affordable, self-produced alternative to our touring production.
Chicago Expansion Initiative
Partnering with Chicago-based organizations who share our dedication to nurturing our city and its youth.
Introducing economically underprivileged children to the joys of classical music and the extraordinary lives of the great classical music composers.
Every Orchestra, Every Child
Bringing our award-winning touring productions to smaller-budgeted orchestras around the world.
Production Creation and Enhancements
Revitalizing our repertoire, educational materials, and production elements.
Establishing a broader presence online and a deeper impact in the community.
For more information regarding these projects, please visit our Projects page.
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