BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Celebrating more than 90 melodic years, the Music Institute of Chicago raised over $765, 000 at its recent annual benefit attended by 200 guests at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The paddle raise brought in more than $120,000 in support of the Institute’s innovation, access, and excellence in music education, including financial aid and scholarships, tuition-free community engagement and school programming, and neighborhood-based service activities for all ages and backgrounds.
Peter Dushkin, Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols, and Deborah Rutter served as Honorary Gala Chairs, with Carlos R. Cárdenas, Hans and Denitta Germann, and Catherine M. and Frederick H. Waddell orchestrating as co-chairs for the evening. ITW was the event’s sponsor.
Highlights of the evening included the presentation of the Dushkin Award to Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn who performed with more than 50 Suzuki and Academy students in a grand finale conducted by Music Institute Conductor-in-Residence and Academy Director Jim Setapen.
A prolific recording artist and commissioner of new works, Hahn has been a recipient of many international awards and a true fan favorite: she has received over 500,000 posts from fellow performers and students on her Instagram-based practice initiative, #100daysofpractice, which helps demystify the typically grueling and isolating practice process, transforming it into a community-oriented social celebration of artistic development. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra named Hahn Artist in Residence in 2021.
Nancy and Scott Santi received this year’s Cultural Visionary Award. The Award recognizes individuals who make an indelible impact on the community through their philanthropic, civic, and cultural leadership. The Santis have been friends of the Music Institute for nearly two decades. Scott Santi is chairman and CEO of Illinois Tool Works, one of the Music Institute’s largest sponsors and a corporate sponsor for more than 25 years. Both are known for their farsighted leadership in numerous non-profits and their enthusiastic approach to community problem solving.
The Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to cello faculty member Dr, Tanya L. Carey. In addition to Carey’s daily teaching in Chicago and work as a guest master clinician, she has trained hundreds of cello teachers around the world and performed at Tully and Carnegie Halls, as well as other venues. She is a past president of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and an artist-teacher at Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts. She is also the author of the “Cello Playing is Easy” series, a comprehensive guide for teachers and players.
Musical performances at the gala included a drumline from the LEARN Excel Charter School, a New Orleans Band procession led by Music Institute Jazz Studies Director and faculty member Audrey Morrison, and performances by students in the Music Institute’s Community Music School and the Academy for gifted pre-college students.
Board Chair Scott Verschoor, who is also one of more than 200 adult students at the Music Institute, said in his remarks, “Tonight, we celebrate music, from discovery through mastery and to the many spaces in between. We celebrate the importance of music to provide healing to a country and world faced with pandemics, war, and civil unrest.
“Music will always be our constant. I came across a statistic that stated more than 70 percent of people over age 45 say music gave them strength and healing during a difficult time in their lives. At the Music Institute, we believe music is an essential element of a compassionate community—it strengthens bonds and nourishes the human spirit. We also believe live music and quality music education should be accessible to everyone.”
For more information on the Music Institute, visit musicinst.org.