Cellist Jean Hatmaker is a founding member of the Kontras Quartet, the internationally acclaimed quartet-in-residence at Western Michigan University, and former artists-in-residence with Chicago classical radio station WFMT. Known for their well-crafted performances, diverse programming, and accessible audience relations, Kontras Quartet has brought their message of inclusivity to concerts across the US, Europe, and Africa. In addition to classical concerts, KQ performs with bluegrass trio the Kruger Brothers, with whom they have appeared at festivals including Telluride, MerleFest, and IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass, as well as the Late Show with David Letterman. Kontras Quartet has released three commercial albums: Lucid Dreamer and Roan Mountain Suite with the Kruger Brothers, on Double Time Records; and Origins, on MSR Records. Ms. Hatmaker has an extensive background of orchestral playing, having been principal cellist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Western Piedmont Symphony, and other regional orchestras throughout the Midwest; she is currently principal cellist with Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Hatmaker is a passionate teacher, holding faculty positions at Oak Park String Academy, Lake Forest College and Elmhurst College, where she also founded the Elmhurst College Cello Choir. With Kontras Quartet, she is in-residence at Western Michigan University as a chamber ensemble coach and guest lecturer. Combining her passions for music and dance, Ms. Hatmaker has worked on numerous collaborations with dance companies, including Hubbard Street Dance Company, Youth Empowerment Performance Project, the Dupage Dance Academy, and the NewArt School of Ballet, for which she arranged and performed original productions of The Nutcracker and Alice In Wonderland, with the Kontras Quartet. She is a blogger for CelloBello, and also dabbles in composition; her newest piece for solo cello, ahimsa, will debut in 2019 at a performance in collaboration with the Youth Empowerment Performance Project. Currently she serves on the board of directors for the Chicago Musicians Club of Women.
She received both Bachelor (with High Distinction) and Master of Music degrees in Cello Performance from Indiana University, in the studios of Helga Winold and Janos Starker. She plays on a European cello of unknown provenance circa 1880, and uses a Bearden bow.