I’m so excited for today’s “Meet a Mom” feature – with Karen Basrak! Karen is the definition of supermom, juggling motherhood & her career as a cellist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra! Karen is mom to Glayden (5), the sweetest little girl and future prima ballerina. Since I’m talking to an audience of moms – you might recognize Karen from My Magic Breath, a collaboration between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Children’s Theatre. You can read Karen’s professional profile here.

I met Karen in the Joffrey Ballet “Toddler & Me” class when our girls first started ballet lessons. Back in those days, you could find us crawling on the floor of the Joffrey Ballet (literally) with our little ones and loving every minute of it! Once the girls graduated into a non-parent class and we were given the gift of a 45 minutes sans-kids (but secretly wanting to be in class…), I SO looked forward to our Sunday morning catch-ups!

Without further introduction, here is my interview with Karen!

Thanks so much for speaking with us today! Where are you from originally, and what brought you to Chicago? 

I’m originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago- grew up in Arlington Heights. Moved back to Illinois and settled in downtown Chicago when I won my job with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2012.

Looking back on your career so far, what have been your top three favorite moments? 

Getting to share the stage with the best musicians in the world on a daily basis is something I will never take for granted. Growing up with the CSO as my hometown orchestra, it was always the dream to be a part of this amazing orchestra. Having the chance to perform on tour in some of the greatest concert halls has been life changing. 

Copyright 2018 Ted Rosenberg Photography

What do you like most about raising your daughter in the city? What are some of your favorite things to do together (both pre-covid, and currently)?  

I love raising my daughter in the city because of the accessibility to everything!  Prior to the pandemic, we could be found at the Art Institute, Chicago Symphony children’s concerts, Joffrey ballet performances, the Children’s Museum, the Shedd, .. I could go on and on! The opportunities are endless. We’ve had to pivot quite a bit during COVID, and have been exploring and discovering more of the outdoor beauty of our city. 

What’s your favorite part about being a mom? 

I always wanted to be a mom, but I feel so blessed to be able to help guide my daughter through this world.  She is such a strong person already, and challenges me to be a better me every day.

You’re definitely my idol,  juggling an exciting career while still managing to be supermom! What are your favorite tips/tricks for balancing work & motherhood?

You are so kind! I wish I had tricks! I always wish I had more time for both aspects of my life, but I’ve found being present in the moment helps during the insanity.  Having a supportive spouse and quality sitters is so important too. 

A good concealer! I remember teaching a lesson when my daughter was about a week old and being so proud of myself for putting on makeup and not looking like I hadn’t slept in a week.. needless to say my student told me years later that I looked awful and they were worried I was sick. Whoops!! 

Copyright 2019 Anne Ryan

I’m sure that you get asked this all the time, but are there things that we can do now to foster a love of music in our children? Any advice (or warnings!) for moms that would like to get their children started playing an instrument? 

My daughter had a head start by being on stage for 9 months before she was born! She is exposed to lots of different types of music, but announced at a young age that she wanted to be a ballerina. She will learn an instrument, but we’re waiting until in person lessons are more of an option. I find age appropriate exposure is a great way to start. Don’t give up if their first attempt doesn’t go well! Nobody is perfect on the first try, and allow them to guide their direction. 

When you have a free minute, what do you like to do to relax? 

Do all moms laugh at this question? I enjoy reading a good mystery when I get the chance.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 

I almost gave up music to go into sports broadcasting- which is hilarious to those who have seen me try to speak coherently on camera!

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