Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame names 2020 inductees

The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame has announced its five newest inductees.

The arts hall of fame has inducted and celebrated the lives of numerous inductees for over the past 20 years.

This is the 10th class of inaugurating inductees into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2020 includes: Patrick F. Beckman, performing arts-music; Vincent S. Chiaramonte, visual arts-painting; Kevin Braheny Fortune, performing arts-music; Jeffery Hunt, performing arts-music; and Joel Sheesley, visual arts-painting.

The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame was founded in 2001 to give public recognition to artists associated with the Fox Valley by birth, education, residence, or service who have achieved national or international acclaim.

The Class of 2020 banquet and inductee celebration will take place on Friday, April 24, at the Villa Olivia Country Club in Bartlett.

For tickets and more information contact Susan Starrett at (630) 605-4000 or Murna Hansemann at (847) 727-7165.

The Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame was a dream of Lucille Halfvarson and other arts leaders that took tangible form during the millennium celebrations in Aurora.

A series of two-minute history sketches for public television briefly put the spotlight on violinist Maud Powell, an Aurora girl who, a century earlier, had the musical world at her feet. The committee that worked on this project evolved into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization that gives public recognition to artists associated with the Fox Valley. The artists honored with induction every other year represent the visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, media arts and educator/curator/benefactors. Each must have served at least 20 years in his or her profession. A second objective of the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame is to ensure a strong cultural legacy for future generations. Inductees are honored with engraved plaques that are displayed at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin.

The founders of the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame are: Joyce Dlugopolski, Jay Harriman, Mary Clark Ormond, Susan S. Starrett, and the late Lucille and Sten Halfvarson, G. Edward Nelson, Roger Parolini, and Charlotte and George Peichl. Visit

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Patrick Beckman

Patrick F. Beckman grew up in Elgin and currently lives in Freeport. He received his Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana. While there he studied with Kenneth Drake, Ron Elliston, Claire Richards, Diane Sanders, and Soulima Stravinsky, Igor Stravinsky's son.

During college he was busy composing musicals and touring Europe as an accompanist. After college he became artist-in-residence of Highland College in Freeport. He stayed at Highland College to teach and went on to become the chairman of the music department. More recently he taught at Aquin High School in Freeport and has been invited to play with the University of Wisconsin Orchestra or play solo recitals there. Mr. Beckman has been composing piano and vocal music since college and has created numerous works in both areas, which have been performed in the Midwest and Europe either by himself as a soloist or with various choral groups.

In 2000, Beckman was selected as the composer to represent Illinois and write a work for "massed choirs" from the Freeport area as part of "Continental Harmony- Music for the Millennium" by the National Endowment for the Arts. For this piece, he collaborated with the poet and dairy farmer Daniel Smith to create a new work, "Song of the Earth," which depicts an image of life in our daily world. Beckman's musical setting of the poetry reflects the rich diversity of American music at the beginning of the new millennium. Elements of gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues, sung by an ensemble of 300 voices, combined with the antecedents of European musical heritage to create a uniquely American voice.

Following its completion, he took the Highland Chorale to Europe and presented "Song of the Earth," as well as three smaller choral works. In addition to numerous choral compositions, he has also written extensively for piano. His works for the piano consist of a synthesis of our American musical vocabularies combined with a fusion of older European structural models with an emphasis on both rhythmic and melodic development that the listener can follow. He is able to utilize the language of the blues, jazz, gospel, folk, rhythm and blues and rock in larger forms geared to the modern listener.

He has received critical acclaim for a number of his CDs some of which include: "Street Dance" and "Big Muddy Suite" (a suite for clarinet and piano with Grammy Award winner Richard Stoltzman).

Using the musical languages of our time, Beckman's music is both accessible and challenging. He has also recorded for the Contemporary Music Society of Philadelphia his first piano sonata, Con Brio Recordings (American Scenes Vol. 1; American Scenes Vol. 11) and smaller labels in the Midwest. His chorale works include the "Mass in Memory of Thomas Merton," first performed at the Salzburg Cathedral, and the "Easter Mass," first performed at the Vatican.

In addition to his academic and off-campus activities, he also performed with various R&B groups from Chicago and worked as a studio musician in various studios.

Kevin Braheny Fortune

Kevin Braheny Fortune grew up in Elgin and currently lives in Los Angeles. He attended Vandercooke Scholl of Music in Chicago where he studied composition and was taught to learn and play every string, wind and brass instrument available. Despite the broad tonal palette of those common instruments, however, his mind was filled with musical sounds beyond those tones, and he was driven to find a way to produce them. After two years he applied to Berklee College of Music in Boston but he opted to forgo this opportunity due to the fact that they would not accept his academic transfer credits.

It is at this point that he discovered the new frontier of electronic music. His first synthesizer was the Electro Comp 101. Complementing his interest in the emerging field of electronic and inspired by the otherworldly " Switched on Bach" recordings, he began to experiment with modulating frequencies into complex musical tones with his Electro-Comp synthesizer. After having such great success in the field on the West Coast he decided to relocate to Los Angeles but before doing so he immersed himself in classes in basic electrical theory (Ohm's law, circuits and capacitors), knowledge that would soon be put to good use.

While working in Los Angeles he worked with top talent at the time and had the opportunity to learn engineering during recording sessions with top artists like the Isley Brothers. He also began to write soundtracks for Disney short educational films as well. But it was the opportunity of working with Malcolm Cecil, an electronic genius and pioneer Moog synthesist where he met Serge Tcherepnin, the creator of the Serge Modular Music System while teaching at the California Institute of Arts.

Serge hired Kevin to prototype circuits for a more stable synthesizer as those back then were not very stable and did not stay on tune. Hence the customized " Mighty Serge" was created. Much of the work that Kevin did for Serge since then has originated from Kevin's modifications.

The Serge Modular Music System remains one of the most vital and influential instruments in the world of modular music.

In addition, because of his vast knowledge of the Serge, he offers help in repairing original Serge synthesizers. Not long after he built the Mighty Serge, he experimented and developed that intuitive relationship with sound by playing music for Emilie Conrad's Continuum Movement classes.

He explains: "Back then she was exploring how the body works through movement and micro-movement and a lot of her focus was on healing. She would explain what she was working on, and then I would start patching the synthesizer with the sounds that would come to me. Those weekly live performances helped me to develop a richer palette in sound and music as well as the emotional dynamics of the experience of sound."

One of his best known albums, "Lullaby From the Hearts of Space," contains the album's 35-minute improvisation performed and recorded live for the legendary "Hearts of Space" radio program. This is an example of what can be done "live" on radio with a large Serge synthesizer with no keyboard. Space music for him is very visual and when effective, sets the stage for creating imagery as well. Chords and intervals have colors and we have the capacity to perceive those colors.

Kevin Braheny Fortune is a true Renaissance man. He is a multi-instrumentalist; he has been a session musician and recording engineer for over 40 years, and a composer of electronic ambient "space" music for over 45 years. He has been involved in the production of leading-edge electronic, prototyping and building his own synthesizers, the NTO and the EWI, all of which he uses while composing. He is a space music pioneer whose music is heard on hundreds of radio and television programs: Apple Music, Amazon Music worldwide, and he has added his musical mastery to hundreds of recordings. He has been a featured soloist on many albums by Paul Avgerinos including the Grammy winning "Grace."

"Ultimately, I perceive that the creation of music is all about love - the love of the electrons, the love of music, sound and space between the sounds. Music is only heard when it passes through the air rich with fields of invisible particles. Then it is gone and there is nothing left except what was imprinted or decoded or perceived about it. For me, whatever spiritual insights I can impart through my sounds, through my music, that is a love song."

Vincent Chiaramonte

Vincent Chiaramonte was born in Rockford and currently resides in Campton Hills. He first attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Skokie and later attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago where he learned his craft of portrait painting. He has dedicated his artistic career to the portrait and artistry involved in capturing the depth of life and emotion of his subjects. He is gifted in oil, pastel and charcoal. Chiaramonte has been commissioned by private individuals and by organizations from the world of business, academia, sports, clergy and politics. He has been commissioned to paint two official congressional portraits. Both of these portraits hang in the United States Capitol today. Originally, Chiaramonte graduated from mortuary school and worked as an embalmer. Knowing he had to pursue his passion for art he went on to receive his formal training at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

Since then he has enjoyed a successful career as a portrait artist. Vincent has earned signature memberships in prestigious pastel and portrait societies, including The Pastel Society of America and the Chicago Pastel Painters. In addition, his work has been featured in highly respective publications such as the International Pastel and International Artist magazines, as well as being featured in "The Best of Pastel Book 2," a hardcover book commemorating the Pastel Society of Americans 25th anniversary. The American Artist magazine featured his technique in the "The Head Study." The October 2018 issue of The Pastel Journal showcases his artwork and his career. His painting "Paul" was chosen by the publication for "Pastel 100," an annual competition showcasing the top 100 paintings of the year. For the last four years, his work has been chosen from the Pastel Society of America's exhibition, "Enduring Brilliance," to hang at The Flora B. Giffuni Gallery of American Pastels located at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. The Butler Institute is the first Museum of American Art. His recent awards include The Pastel Award of Excellence, The Henri Roche' Selection Award and acceptance into the International Association of Pastel Societies exhibition.

Jeffrey Hunt

Jeffrey Hunt was born and raised in St. Charles and lives there now. He received his Bachelor of Music at Taylor University in Indiana and a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting at Northwestern University in Illinois. He is the founder and director of the St. Charles Singers. While their home venue is Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles, the St. Charles Singers perform regularly in and around Chicago and tour internationally. He has been an adjunct professor of music at Elgin Community College since 2016. Most recently, he was the 2019 recipient of the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce's Charlemagne Award. He is the music director for the complete discography of St. Charles Singers recordings which include: "American Reflections, 20th and 21st Century Choral Music" and "Bushes and Briars" folk songs for choirs. Hunt has affiliations and memberships with the Illinois American Choral Directors Association where he is on the board of directors as its music and worship chair, as well as being affiliated with the Chorus of America.

Hunt and the St. Charles Singers are committed to providing educational programming for all ages to broaden opportunities exposure to choral music. This is evidenced by the numerous programs that Hunt has created and developed. In 2019, St. Charles Singers presented a Mozart Festival where they presented the 15th in the series of the 17-concert "Mozart Journey," undertaking to perform and record the complete volume of Wolfgang Mozart's scared choral compositions. With a few notable exceptions, i.e. the Coronation Mass and Requiem, Mozart's sacred works are seldom performed. To the choir's knowledge, no American recordings, or even recent European collections exist of this genre of Mozart's work. With just two remaining steps of the Mozart Journey, Hunt and the choir remain passionately committed to completing this endeavor to perform and record these 18th-century works for a 21st century audience. In June 2017, Hunt led the choir in the performance of a collection of 20th- and 21st-century American compositions. The program's centerpiece was "Walden Pond," a compelling composition by American composer Dominick Argento that incorporates the text of David Thoreau's "Walden." It was performed to commemorate Thoreau's 200th birthday. These concerts were not only performed in St. Charles and River Forest, but also throughout England.

In 2019, the recording released as a CD enjoyed wide acclaim. The "American Reflections" music has generated an article in the August 2019 edition of the acclaimed British magazine "Gramophone" as well as positive review in the September/October edition of the "American Record Guide." The St. Charles Singers offer area music students numerous outreach programs including camps, workshops and scholarship opportunities.

Joel Sheesley

Joel C. Sheesley graduated form Syracuse University with a Bachelor in Fine Arts and graduated with an MFA in painting and printmaking from the University of Denver. In 2016, he retired after 42 years of teaching art at Wheaton College for a total of 45 years of professional work as an exhibiting artist and professor of art. He is a 45-year resident of DuPage County. Now retired from teaching, he continues as a professor emeritus, still painting and speaking. In addition, to his 42 year as an art professor at Wheaton College, he has a 45-year record of exhibitions, lectures, etc. in local, regional, and national high caliber art venues.

He has spearheaded exhibitions for the following organizations: Northern Illinois Food Bank, All Souls Anglican Church, Wheaton Park District, and The Conservation Foundation. Sheesley achieved excellence in his field at an early age and has been recognized/honored both nationally and internationally in the field of visual arts. He has an extensive list of solo or invitational group painting exhibitions at various art institutions in New York City; Chicago; Laguna Beach, California; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Syracuse, New York. Over the course of his career, his art has been displayed and he has lectured, written, or taught in more than 13 of out United States as well as in Canada and Nicaragua. He has had an important impact on the arts in the Fox Valley area. For 45 years, Sheesley's paintings have brought attention to suburban, urban, and rural landscape, first in DuPage County, then Kane, Kendall and LaSalle counties in Illinois. His work had been exhibited locally in Chicago galleries and also in commercial and institutional art venues in 13 states including: New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kansas and California.

In 2007, Valparaiso University published a 99-page retrospective catalog in conjunction with the exhibition "Domestic Vision: Twenty-Five Years of the Art of Joel Sheesley." In 2015, the Wheaton Park District published "Lincoln Marsh Journal: Landscape the Knowledge Mystery," a 130-page catalog of Sheesley's painting in Lincoln Marsh, a natural area in Wheaton. In 2018, The Conservation Foundation published "A Fox River Testimony," a 155-page catalog of Sheesley's paintings of the Fox River Valley. All of this work, and that previously noted, calls attention to and celebrates the varied life and landscape of the Fox Valley area. From 2017-19, Sheesley has worked in conjunction with The Conservation Foundation and gave a series of formal and informal talks to promote the work of the foundation and its mission to save land and rivers in the Fox Valley region.

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