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Lyric Violist Plays National Anthem, Becomes U.S. Citizen

Lyric Violist Carol Cook

Lyric Violist Carol Cook

Video of Carol Cook (below)

After more than ten years of tedious record-keeping and documentation, Lyric Opera of Chicago violist is officially an American. At her swearing-in ceremony, she made a musical offering for herself and dozens of other candidates taking the Oath of Allegiance: a solo performance of the Star-Spangled Banner (video below).

For years she stacked her schedule, taking few vacation days and cataloging the printed program of every performance. Even as a member of the Lyric Opera viola section, she had to demonstrate to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that her employment status was good for another two years – a standard requirement for an O-visa, a permit for non-immigrants who possess extraordinary ability. After several rounds of submitting her performance history and re-qualifying for the O-visa, she was eligible for a green card.

This “alien of extraordinary ability” was Carol Cook, now principal viola of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. Cook, who trained at Juilliard, has played in the Lyric Opera Orchestra for a decade, except for one year when she took a sabbatical to play in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

For Cook, the only bit of unfinished business was becoming an American. Chicago is home to this Scottish fiddler and violist. Thus, the minute she was eligible, after living as a “permanent resident” five years, Carol Cook applied for citizenship. On Monday, July 22, 2013, Carol Cook took the Oath of Allegiance and became a United States citizen.

A happy surprise for the 140 others taking the oath that day, Carol opened the ceremony with a classy performance of the Star-Spangled Banner (see video).

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