Interview with 2023 Performance Program Alum, Hannah Clague

Hannah Clague headshot

Hannah Clague, Masters in Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration from UChicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice 2023.


Vocalist Hannah Clague graduated from the UChicago Department of Music's Performance Program in 2023. Read on to learn more about Hannah's time at UChicago, her most memorable performances, her current work as a therapist, and more!

What are some of your most memorable experiences being a part of the Performance Program at UChicago?  

My most memorable experience being part of the Performance Program at UChicago was performing a solo with the University Symphony Orchestra at the Halloween Concert in 2022. The opportunity was so fun and so meaningful to me. I loved collaborating with Professor Schubert, my fellow singing actors in the scene, and all the awesome musicians in the orchestra! 

Another memory I think of often was performing Lori Laitman’s song I Never Saw Another Butterfly with saxophonist and fellow student Aoife Stapleton. This piece is one song in a set of six songs for soprano and saxophone that incorporates as its text poetry written by children who died in the Holocaust. I have loved that piece for a long time and getting to perform it in its entirety felt very moving to me. We dedicated our performance to children who had recently been lost to gun violence. The opportunity to sing songs written in the past in a way that held meaning and intention in the present captured the power of performance for me. 

What do you miss most about being a student?  

I miss all the opportunities available at UChicago to live out my passions! School can be stressful, and that stress sometimes distracted me from noticing how awesome it was to have so much support from professors, Dr. Brailey, and UChicago staff as I worked to discover more about myself as a singer, social worker, and human. Also, I miss being walking distance from practice rooms! I definitely made use of them a bit more back then ;)  

What are you up to these days?  

I’m a therapist! I work with teens and adults. I practice a type of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is about learning to acknowledge and move through the really hard things life gives us in the moment so that we can build a life that is meaningful to us. For me, singing helps me practice both of those things: it teaches me to keep breathing through moments of high stress (stage fright is real!), while the text and music itself inspires me to imagine a better, brighter future. My goal is to integrate my love of the arts with social work, exploring how experiencing music and theater can change people, individually and in community. 

How are you continuing to engage with music?  

I was thrilled to discover that alumni are still able to participate in the Performance Program! I’m still singing in Rockefeller Chapel Choir, taking lessons, and participating in Vocal Studies events. I’m really looking forward to our upcoming opera scenes performance in the Spring. I feel lucky to be able to still sing and perform even while my career has taken me down a clinical path for the time being. 

What was the last good book you read?  

I just finished reading every novel Becky Chambers has even written. I’ve never been much of a sci-fi person, but something about the way she captures human emotion and our search for meaning even in interactions between fantastical species of space aliens hooked me. Chambers’ novella A Psalm for the Wild-Built particularly struck me, and I keep imagining the scenes of a fair, lovely little world she painted with her words. 

What are some pieces that you dream of performing someday? 

I’d love to re-capture the experience I had performing the Laitman piece—how can music speak to an audience now, move them now, motivate them to think about things differently or take action to change their world? To that end, I want to continue to explore song cycles written by female and gender diverse composers, composers of color, and folks from different musical backgrounds.