St. Francis Xavier teacher of Berwyn juggles careers, Oscar nod
In May, Diane Bryks was asked if she, along with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, could do a recording for a motion picture.
She wasn't told what movie and she was forced to sign non-disclosure form after non-disclosure form.
"I made myself available for it," Bryks said. "Even the contract didn't say what movie it was."
So the St. Francis Xavier School music teacher and Berwyn resident went during the day to Orchestra Hall Recording Studio in Chicago and performed pieces written by famous film conductor John Williams with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Months later, she, along with other members of the CSO, were brought into a private screening of the film before its release last November. It was there she heard her performance in the Oscar-nominated Steven Spielberg film, "Lincoln."
"I was very honored to be part of that," Bryks said. "At the end, the entire audience was silent listening to the music during the credits. It was a different experience."
The score for the film was nominated for an Oscar, although it lost to Mychael Danna's score for "Life of Pi."
Still, for Bryks, the experience was a good one in a career full of them.
Bryks, who started teaching at St. Francis Xavier School in La Grange in 1976, is an accomplished professional member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and two-time Grammy winner.
In 2010, the Chicago Symphony Chorus won Grammys for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance for "Guiseppe Verdi: Messa da Requiem" with Riccardo Muti as conductor, Christopher Alder as producer and Duain Wofe as chorus director.
"We knew we were in the running," Bryks said. "It was a very enjoyable performance. Multi has a way of getting the best out of the orchestra."
When it was announced they had won, Bryks took part in a photo shoot with the actual Grammys. She was awarded two official certificates documenting her as a Grammy winner.
"The kids at school were very excited," Bryks said.
And it's with no less enthusiasm and passion that Bryks speaks about her work at St. Francis Xavier.
"I didn't have music in school when I grew up, which I regretted," Bryks said. "It's one of the reasons I became a teacher."
It's a career she said she loves. She approaches the subject with a hands-on mentality.
"You do music — you don't read about it," Bryks said.
That's why she encourages her students to do a public performance, including in church choirs, starting in kindergarten.
"It's rewarding," Bryks said. "To see how enthusiastic they are. It's an exciting thing and it's something they will always keep with them."
She admits there are challenges, especially in keeping the music relevant to the middle school crowd while still upholding standards.
That's why, when teaching musical concepts, she incorporates both classical and modern music, including Dave Matthews Band, to show students that the concepts remain the same.
"But it's not always easy," Bryks said.
And although there are difficulties, the rewards far outnumber them, which is why Bryks has continued to bring music to her students for more than 30 years.
"When I first taught children of students, I thought it was crazy," Bryks said. "Now there are teachers at this school who are former students of mine."
While she loves both professions, singing and teaching, with equal fervor, Bryks admits juggling both is a challenge.
"There are not enough hours in the day," Bryks said. "I breathe in September and when I exhale, it's December and Christmas."
If you have any technical difficulties, either with your username and password or with the payment options, please contact us by e-mail at email@example.com