Our Artistic Leadership

Kevin Kelly, Artistic Director

Kevin moved to the northwest Chicago suburbs in 2014, after 23 years living in Champaign-Urbana, where he served the musical community in multiple roles. In 1996, he founded a uniquely entertaining professional chamber orchestra called The Prairie Ensemble, with a mission to “make first-rate music fun, approachable and affordable.” Kevin was honored four times by the Illinois Council of Orchestras for his work with the Ensemble—for “Chamber Orchestra of the Year,” for “Meritorious Service in Orchestral Conducting” and twice for “Programming of the Year.” He has conducted the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra since 1993 and continues to commute to Champaign for Sunday rehearsals. After 13 years as a classical music host at public radio station WILL-FM in Urbana, he served as host and producer of “Live and Local,” which featured interviews with, and frequent live performances by, local and visiting artists across many musical genres, theater and dance.

In the fall of 2015, he became Artistic Director of the Allegro Community Chorus and Conductor for the Lake County Núcleo of Sistema Ravinia, an outreach program of the Ravinia Festival (a position he held until May 2019). He was named Artistic Director of the Northwest Choral Society in the summer of 2018.

Kevin’s work with choirs included 17 years as choirmaster at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign. As music director of The Prairie Ensemble, he conducted collaborative performances with the University of Illinois Concert Choir and Women’s Glee Club, Amasong, the Chorus of the Baroque Artists of Champaign Urbana and the Central Illinois Children’s Chorus. He previously directed the Illini Statesmen Barbershop Chorus in Champaign-Urbana and was active with the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company.

Kevin Kelly holds bachelor’s degrees in English (essay writing) and music history and criticism from Northwestern University, and master’s degrees in orchestral and choral conducting from the University of Illinois. Post-college, he sang with several professional choral ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, The City Musick, Basically Bach and His Majesties Clerkes (now Bella Voce). He has studied conducting with Kenneth Kiesler, Paul Vermel, Victor Yampolsky and Harold Farberman.

Kevin lives in Elgin with his wife, Ayano Sakai (a scientist at Tate & Lyle), and their virtual-twin cats, Farley and Percy.

Lori Lyn Mackie, Assistant Artistic Director & Collaborative Pianist

Lori is frequently heard throughout the Midwest in concerts and recitals. Active as a collaborative pianist, Lori works with both vocalists and instrumentalists.

Lori’s educational background includes a master’s degree from Northwestern University in piano performance/accompanying/chamber music and a bachelor’s degree from Albion College in piano performance and German. Additional credits include study at the Koninklijk Vlaams Muziekconservatorium in Antwerp, Belgium, the Blossom Festival School, BayView Conservatory and Interlochen.

Lori has served on the staff of many Chicago organizations, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theatre, Light Opera Works of Evanston, the Latin School of Chicago and the Chicago Tribune Charities production of The Nutcracker. Lori is currently director of music at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Burbank.

Thomas Colao, Assistant Conductor

Tom enjoys a diverse musical career as an organist, conductor and classical singer. He currently holds the post of Assistant to the Director of Music at St. Chrysostom’s Church in Chicago, where he helps to lead all aspects of the church’s renowned sacred music program, including overseeing the Children’s Chorister program, assisting in the direction of the professional Choir of St. Chrysostom’s Church, as well as the volunteer St. Chrysostom’s Singers, and playing the church’s landmark organ in worship services and recital programs. Prior to this appointment, he spent eight seasons as Director of Music & Organist at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Princeton, New Jersey. As a professional choral artist, he has appeared on the rosters of the Grammy®-nominated Kinnara Ensemble, which performs in Princeton and Atlanta, and the Salt Lake City choral ensemble Brevitas. Tom also currently serves as Assistant Conductor for the Northwest Choral Society, and is accompanist for the choirs of Hoffman Estates High School, as well as the Allegro Community Chorus in Palatine.