A native of Wheeling, Ill., alto Debra Wilder joined the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1999. She holds a degree in vocal performance from Bradley University.

Which works are you most looking forward to performing this season?

Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe (April 5-7 and 10) because this music is regarded as some of the composer’s most passionate, with extraordinarily lush harmonies typical of the Impressionist movement in music.

Offstage, I like to: 

Spend my days teaching early childhood education. Since 2004, I’ve been privileged to work for Bright Horizons Family Solutions, spending my days as a teacher for 2-year-old children. When I chose this path to become an early childhood educator, I dedicated myself to helping our future generations grow into responsible, competent learners. Teaching one child, let alone a whole classroom of young learners, is no simple task, but I have a genuine passion for helping young kids, while watching them learn and achieve.

Tell us about some of your favorite music genres besides classical music.

I’m a total fan of musical theater. I’ll take them all, from old-fashioned ones to modern-day productions! In my opinion, musical theater tells a cohesive story, full of emotions and over-the-top actions. For me, the music breathes life into the story as it plays out on stage in inventive ways, from ballads and ’70s hits, to raps and romantic (Rodgers & Hammerstein) love songs. They add a flare that doesn’t exist in reality, because let’s face it, random songs and dance numbers just don’t happen, unfortunately.

Do you perform in a non-classical vocal style or setting? Please tell us a bit about it and why you enjoy it.

I’m a proud member of An Octave Above, an eight-person a cappella ensemble consisting of four women and four men. Since 2001, An Octave Above has been performing throughout the Chicagoland area as well as producing studio recordings that can be heard on iTunes and YouTube. It’s a very versatile group with an impressively wide repertoire, including original arrangements, Beatles covers, pop, rock, metal, ’50s doo-wop, standards and more!

Photo: ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018