Music Institute of Chicago Wins Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition
The Music Institute of Chicago confirmed its status as one of the best schools in the nation for chamber music study with students from its prestigious Academy for gifted pre-college musicians earning first and third place wins in the Junior Division of the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. The Music Institute offers one of the largest and most accomplished chamber music programs in the U.S. and presents some of the finest chamber music ensembles at Nichols Concert Hall.
Founded in 1973 in South Bend, Indiana, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, presented by the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association, has become the largest chamber music competition in the world and one of the most illustrious classical music prizes attainable today. Since its founding, more than 5,000 musicians have participated, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers in music performance and education.
Quartet Stracciatella, coached by Academy faculty member Marko Dreher and featuring Erika Gray, violin (16, Wilmette); Hyun Jae Lim, violin (14, Wilmette); Stephanie Block, viola (17, Barrington); and Johannes Gray, cello (15, Wilmette), earned the First Place Medal and Scholarship of $2,000.
The Third Place Medal and Scholarship ($1,000) went to the Quartet Ardella, coached by Academy faculty members Hans Jorgen Jensen and Desiree Ruhstrat and featuring Laura Park, violin (18, Des Plaines); Jennifer Cha, violin (16, Naperville); Devon Naftzger, viola (18, Lincolnshire); and Ben Solomonow, cello (16, Evanston).
In addition, the judges made an unprecedented move to award two honorable mention designations, one of which went to the Academy’s Pallas Trio featuring Kelly Talim, violin (16, Buffalo Grove); Mariel Werner, cello (20, Belgrade, Montana); and Kate Liu, piano (17, Winnetka).
“The quality of contestants at this weekend’s Fischoff competition was very high,” commented Academy Director Jim Setapen. “From an initial field of 70 junior applicant groups nationwide, 10 of the 24 quarterfinalists were from the Music Institute and six of the 12 semi-finalist groups advancing were from the Music Institute’s Academy. This is a tribute to the extremely high level of chamber music instruction at the Academy and the Music Institute, as well as to the students’ dedication to excelling in this area of their music studies.”
Students in the Music Institute’s Academy have taken first place in the Junior Division in four of the past five years, as well as earning five additional top medals:
2012 – 1st, Quartet Stracciatella; 3rd, Quartet Ardella2010 – 1st, Quartet Danae; 2nd, Emerald String Quartet2009 – 1st, Aurelia String Quartet; 3rd, Quartet Danae2008 – 1st, Quartet Polaris; 2nd, Ridere Quartet; 3rd, Aurelia String Quartet
In addition to wins at Fischoff, two Academy chamber groups made it to the final round in this year’s St. Paul String Quartet Competition, showcasing the nation’s finest pre-college string players. Academy groups took first and second place in both 2009 and 2010. This year, Quartet Ventoso, coached by Academy faculty member Desiree Ruhstrat and featuring Jennifer Cha and Erika Gray, violins; Caitlin Adamson, viola (17, Evanston); and Johannes Gray, cello, received the Haydn Prize for best interpretation of the master’s work and Audience Prize.
Another competition in which the Academy has dominated is the Jules M. Laser Chamber Music Competition, which offers chamber ensembles with members ages 10–18 the chance to win a $1,200 award, live broadcast on WFMT 98.7 and performance opportunities at the Music in The Loft and 2012 Society of American Musicians’ Winner's Concert. This year, Quartet Ventoso took first place, the fourth consecutive year of first place wins for Music Institute ensembles.