Originally from Latvia, Magdalena Sustere is a cellist who is passionate about music in a wide variety of forms. From playing classical to World music, she finds joy in taking part in various projects. Her passion is reflected in her versatile career, encompassing the baroque, classical, and modern genres, as well as opera, gospel, musicals, world music, jazz, and improvisation.
Ms. Sustere serves as freelance studio recording artist, educator, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. Magdalena is principal cellist for Chicago Composers’ Orchestra and cellist with Chicago based Sonder Trio. Additionally, she runes private cello studio and teaches at El Sistema in Cathalist Circle Rock in Chicago. Ms. Sustere loves creating and collaborating. If needed, she has experience playing electric bass and singing
Magdalena has performed with The South Shore Opera Company of Chicago, BOHO Theater Company, Chicago Artist Chorale, Roosevelt University Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Composers’ Orchestra, Chicago Solisti, Jelgava’s Chamber Orchestra (Latvia), The Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, The Kankakee Valley Symphony, and The SIUE Symphony Orchestra. Magdalena has also performed on CD releases including Mums Dots Ir Laiks, Laiks Pielūgt IV,and Who Am I with Christian groups in Latvia as well as within The United States. She often collaborates on various projects with other artists, gladly offering her creative input with respect to the making of music. During her four years in Southern Illinois, she was the principal cellist of the University Symphony Orchestra.
Magdalena has received several awards for her cello playing and academic success, some of them being:
- SIUE Pival Memorial Cello Scholarship (2011-2016)
- Eastern Music Festival Stephanie Cordick Cello Scholarship (2015)
- SIUE String Honors Scholarship (2011 – 2016)
- Eastern Music Festival Young Artist Merit Award (2010)
- STELLAR Student Award (Spring 2015)
- Labie Darbi Association Scholarship
- Okarte Talanti Association Scholarship (Riga, Latvia, 2012)
In her home country, Magdalena was one of the founders and organizers of History Makers Worship School, where youth from different cities come together to learn how to play in church settings. In these conferences, Magdalena has taught improvisation skills. She has also been an invited guest speaker at the SIUE Kimmel Leadership Center’s MLK Celebration Luncheon (2013) and International Women’s Organization (IWO, 2014). She actively presents Latvian culture and music in countless events.
Magdalena has a Masters of Music from The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where she studied with Dr. Tanya Carey. She earned her Bachelors of Music Degree in Cello Performance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Summa Cum Laude). Magdalena has additionally played in masterclasses for Lynn Harrell, Neal Cary, Robert Burkhardt, Penny Thompson Kruse,Ozan Tunca, John Friesen, Anne Suda, Julian Schwarz, Sara Sant’ Ambrogio, Eric Stephenson, and Steuart Pincombe.
Besides cello playing, Magdalena enjoys singing, playing electric bass, and making oral presentations. She has had the honor of representing The United States in Cuba (December, 2015) in an international choral festival with SIUE choir which was the only representative of USA.