Cassie Mara Makeeff happily makes her home on the stage as a pianist and singer, as a soloist and as a collaborative artist. The duality has led to a wide variety of performances and a somewhat unconventional career path. Most recent piano solo work was collaborating with Ballet Palm Beach dancing the pas de deux with the original George Balanchine choreography, directed by Zippora Karz. “Accompanied on the piano by the talented Cassie Mara Makeeff, the music by Maurice Ravel drove the piece like the wind moves the leaves as Lily Ojea Loveland and Aaron Melendrez seemingly effortlessly glided through the air.”
Other personal favorite performances were a live radio broadcast of Schubert’s Erlkonig on WFMT 98.7 in Chicago, accompanying at the ACDA Convention at Chicago Symphony Center, and playing a Prokofiev Sonata in a St. Petersburg castle. Highlights as a mezzo-soprano soloist showcase versatility, including performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and a popular concert of Cole Porter music with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra. As a choral accompanist, she performed duo piano concerts of Carmina Burana, the Brahms Requiem, and her own 4-hand arrangements of several opera choruses. A particular skill gained as a collaborative pianist is always facing a new instrument. As one critic noted, “The duo were joined by Palm Beach Opera pianist and coach Cassie Makeeff, who heroically made the most of an electric keyboard.”
Cassie has worked across all levels of education and professional music houses, from middle schools to universities, community theater to professional opera houses. Cassie was a rehearsal pianist and coach at Palm Beach Opera under the direction of Maestro David Stern. In Chicago, she was the accompanist and assistant conductor for the DePaul Community Chorus and a long tenured member of the Grammy nominated Grant Park Chorus.
Cassie moved back to her hometown of Des Moines in 2020. She joined Des Moines Metro Opera for their performance of The Magic Flute as the choral rehearsal pianist, and played the performance of “Rusalka: The Littlest Mermaid,” for picnic and Puccini with Opera Iowa. She now proudly joins forces with Drake University as a pianist and coach for the opera department.
Cassie pursued her formal education in piano performance with Dr. Sylvia Wang at Northwestern University, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and earned her Master's Degree at Indiana University in Piano Performance with Dr. Karen Shaw and Vocal Pedagogy with Timothy Noble. Her assistantship was in the IU Opera program as a rehearsal pianist and coach. She studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia under Elena Shishko.