“These tours have been truly life-transforming experiences. They have forever altered the way I look at the world.”
If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — no wonder Northbrook’s three Damisch daughters stay close to the piano bench.
Their father, concert pianist and former Northbrook village president Mark Damisch, began playing the organ when he was 4 at the Evanston Conservatory of Music, switching to piano at age 7.
“When I look at this summer’s tour, I don’t know how many more we will be able to do as a family,” Mark Damisch lamented. I’m trying to hang on tightly to every rehearsal — every memory.”
Damisch’s oldest daughter, Kristina, is a summa cum laude graduate from Lake Forest College, and will enter medical school next Fall.
“I was so small when we started touring,” said Alexandra, who has served as one of two senior drum majors for the Glenbrook North High School marching band.
Fondly known as Alex to her friends — her marching band instrument of choice is the clarinet. But Alex has also built a resume that has stunned worldwide audiences and will wow college recruiters.
“I started playing piano when I was 5. Kristina and Katherine started at age 4 and I started performing at 6,” said Alex. “I was impossibly young.
“This is not to be condescending and brag about all that I did at that age, but it’s both a strange revelation and an apology for not remembering more,” said Alex.
While these words seem wise beyond her teenage years — world travel is an awesome field trip. “Even if we did not get to see a single landmark or museum, the concerts are worth the journey,” said Katherine Damisch, who also sings and is a recent theater graduate from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. It is truly amazing to be able to communicate and connect with a group of people across language and cultural barriers.
“People who work in organizations that raise money for worthy causes or promote international friendship are some of the world’s heroes and the opportunity to lend our talents in order to help them is very humbling,” said Katherine.
“Each concert setting brings with it a different atmosphere,” said Katherine. “As a singer, it can be powerful for me to be able to look into the eyes of each audience member in a smaller setting.
“I cannot deny the rush I get from hearing the applause of a larger crowd,” continued Katherine. “Each new location and set of concert-goers has a personality.
“They have ranged from outgoing, personable church and library gatherings to more formal, yet still inviting embassy audiences.”
Alex Damisch recalls that autograph moment in Shanghai.
“We were playing for the equivalent of the Chinese Red Cross and ended up raising a quarter of a million dollars,” said Alex.
“At the end of the concert, my dad and Katherine and I had done a curtain call and were watching the audience continue to freak out.
“People of all ages were standing at the stage, waving their tickets at the piano, cheering,” Alex recalls.
“‘Dad,’ I said. ‘I think they want autographs.’ Someone gave us Sharpies (permanent markers) and we knelt at the stage, taking tickets.
“At first I scribbled my full name, Alexandra Damisch and a peace sign — then I resorted to my initials and a peace sign,” she remembers. “Finally I just switched to my initials.
“Signing autographs is such an amazing experience.”
With next week almost here — the Damisch family had better leave room in their luggage for Sharpies and paperbacks.
“My father buys and quite literally rips through guidebook after guidebook,” Alex reports. “He leads us on walking tours, all the while reading from pages he’s torn out.”
Mark Damisch’s fingers will also do some walking, typing Facebook tour updates.
“I’m so lucky to have been to more than thirty countries before I could even drive,” said Alex, who began driving last September but plans to “do so much walking” as a world traveler and GBN marching band drum major.
“These tours have been truly life-transforming experiences.”
Excerpted from original article by Karie Angell Luc, July 19, 2011, Northbrook Star “Damisch Daughters Deserve Spotlight This Summer”