BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Two surprise performances by legendary violinist Rachel Barton Pine, alongside student musicians, and a note from Bono praising the charitable work of the evening’s other honorees, Susan Kiphart and her late husband, Richard, highlighted the 87th Anniversary Gala of the Music Institute of Chicago.
MIC President, Mark George, presented the prestigious Dushkin award, established 30 years ago to honor Dorothy and David Dushkin to recognize luminaries in the international music world, to Rachel Barton Pine and the Cultural Visionary Award to Susan Kiphart.
Rachel, who studied at the Music Institute, now serves as a life trustee and has a Violin Chair named in her honor. She is also a noted philanthropist whose own foundation benefits the next generation of gifted students in the arts.
By evening’s end, $800,000 was raised to benefit the renowned academy, a training center for gifted pre-college musicians and a creator of outreach music programs across the city.
Renee Fleming, Alexandra and John Nichols, and Lois and Harrison Steans made up the legendary team of Honorary Chairs, while longtime supporters Renee and Lester Crown, Jim and Kay Mabie, and Cathy and Bill Osborn served as the chairs of the magically musical evening.
Founded in 1931, the Music Institute has grown to be one of the largest and most respected music schools in the country and now offers classes at both inner city and satellite locations and in schools for students of all ages and abilities.
We asked Mark if many of his students go on to perform in concert halls:
“Probably one percent of our students go on to become professional musicians, and that is exactly right. We have many bright young people who are good at many things. With good training they will take off like rockets.
“There are sometimes six- and eight-year olds who make your jaw drop, but that doesn’t mean that they will be better than everyone. A few will go on to be amazing at 18.”
We queried Mark, who came to the Music Institute of Chicago in 2010 from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, how to maximize music lessons even if you aren’t planning a musical career. A pianist, teacher, and composer of what he terms “eclectic music and a personal endeavor,” he replied:
“We provide a wonderful foundation, through our world-class teachers, for students to connect with a wonderful art form. Students must put in a lot of effort and have real resilience.
“Our teachers can break down what you need to do into a hundred different pieces, and if you keep at it, you will succeed 100 percent of the time. It is just a question of revisiting it many times.
“For example, when you are playing the piano, you receive instant feedback—yours on hearing what you are doing. Your teacher would have told you how you can fix any mistake you have made.”
We wondered, “Do you inherit artistic ability?”
“There is little evidence that it is genetic, but children of musicians have such an advantage because they hear and see music being performed all the time.”
Mark described the gala as “100 percent awe-inspiring,” as these photos show. We only wish we could include in this story, along with these beautiful photos, the many beautiful sounds of the evening.