Uses Music to Inspire Others with Disabilities
With an impressive career spanning three-fourths of a century, renowned concert pianist and long-time contributor to Chicago’s cultural scene, Irene Alexander, turned 90 this week.
Irene began playing the piano at age three, and her natural talent was soon noticed by Chicago’s artistic community. At age six, Irene performed for Queen Marie of Romania, and later for Rachmaninoff.
Among her more recent accomplishments, Irene served as a Deputy for Chicago C
Though her sight began failing her sixteen years ago, Irene was no stranger to adversity. As a child, she overcame a rare form of polio, and as an adult, she battled breast cancer. “I wasn’t frightened when I learned I had macular degeneration, says Irene, “I knew it would be just one more challenge to overcome.” Irene began practicing the piano with her eyes closed, and by volunteering her musical talent, served as an inspiration to others with vision loss. Now a resident of Friedman Place, a non-profit community for adults with vision loss, Irene has the independence to continue her volunteer activities throughout the city.
Irene currently plays for residents of Friedman Place and Chicago-area nursing homes. “From the time I was a little girl, making other people happy through music has been my greatest joy. To this day it’s what keeps me going,” says Irene. “I’m celebrating turning 90, and I feel like my life is just beginning.”