etc. Founder and Director Mike O’Mara has been working professionally as a music and theater educator and performer since 2000. He currently maintains a private piano, composition and vocal coaching studio containing students of all ages and experience levels. Mike holds a Master’s and a Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University’s School of Music in Music Composition with added emphasis on vocal education, where he studied composition with Dr. Kurt Westerberg, piano with Dimitry Paperno, harpsichord with Roger Goodman and voice with Dr. Clayton Parr.
Prior to founding etc. Music School, Mike had previous professional experience including 5 years overseeing the music education of Music Institute of Chicago’s musical theatre program for students grades K-12, directing both children’s and adult choirs (both church and neighborhood), instructing courses in music theory to students grades K-12, and designing cross-curricular activities that showcase music in general classrooms throughout Chicagoland. Mike has been seen as a conductor and music director in musicals at the Theatre Building (Chicago) and North Central College (Naperville), and has served as an accompanist and coach with the Chicago Children’s Choir, Merit School of Music, Northwestern University and DePaul University.
As a composer, Mike’s choral, orchestral and musical theatre works have been performed by numerous ensembles, from grade schools to universities in America and abroad. Mike is the winner of the 2012 and 2013 “Silver Platter” award for Compositional Excellence from the American Choral Directors’ Association for his collection “Modern Madrigals”, a series of choral pieces for mixed ensembles. He continues to collaborate creatively with several other professional partners in the realms of composition, book and lyric writing, and arranging of scores in addition to creating numerous original theater and choral works for the students of etc. Music School, for which he has written or arranged over 120 pieces for choir and penned over 35 works for the stage as of January 2019.
Mike’s teaching philosophy and leadership of etc. Music School’s arts community was the focus of an Evanston Arts Council “Bright Spots in the Arts” presentation in October ’14, and etc. Music School was subsequently awarded the 2014 Evanston Mayor’s Award for the Arts for the school’s contributions to Evanston’s arts community. etc. Music School and Mike have been runners-up for the same award each year since.
As a teacher, Mike O’Mara has become known for taking on the students other teachers wouldn’t and inspiring them with unique repertoire and opportunities for personal expression. He brings these skills and a passion for sharing the arts with everyone to his guidance of the programming at etc. Music School.