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Music Institute of Chicago 90th Anniversary Gala Raises $800,000+

Contributions totaled more than $825,000 from about 250 donors before and during the event, which was free to view.

Music Institute of Chicago 90th Anniversary Gala Raises $800,000+

Celebrating 90 years of innovation, access, and excellence in music education, the Music Institute of Chicago welcomed more than 450 viewers to its 90th Anniversary Virtual Gala on Monday, May 10. Contributions totaled more than $825,000 from about 250 donors before and during the event, which was free to view.


Contributions during the event itself totaled $51,000, unlocking challenge grants from Sidley Austin LLP and the Edwardson Family Foundation, and viewers met and exceeded a late-breaking reach challenge from Music Institute parents Dan and Yoo Mi Hahn.

Highlights of this evening included remarks from Maestro Zubin Mehta, who received the Dushkin Award presented by his brother, Zarin Mehta (1998 Dushkin awardee); Linda Theis Gantz and Wilbur "Bill" Gantz, who received the Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago from Honorary Gala Chairs Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols; and Music Institute faculty Nina Wallenberg and Daniel Wallenberg, who received the Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence.

The evening featured prerecorded performances by accomplished alumni, including violinist Maya Anjali Buchanan, pianist Inna Faliks, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, and the Kairos String Quartet, and anniversary messages from past Dushkin awardees, including jazz icon Wynton Marsalis, soprano Renée Fleming, and violinists Joshua Bell and Midori. Other highlights included performances by students from the Music Institute's renowned Academy program for gifted pre-college musicians and the Music Institute's Community Music School.

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols were Honorary Gala Chairs. Scott and Areta Verschoor and Jeffrey and Christine Morse were Co-Chairs. Dr. Prema Abraham and Dr. Jim Buchanan, Sanjay and Rekha Jayaram, and Donna La Pietra and Bill Kurtis were Vice Chairs.

The prestigious Dushkin Award, established more than 30 years ago and named for the Music Institute's visionary founders Dorothy and David Dushkin, recognizes international luminaries in the world of music for their contributions to the art form, as well as to the education of youth. Maestro Zubin Mehta, was music director of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra for 50 years, becoming conductor emeritus in 2019. In 1978, he took over as music director of the New York Philharmonic, commencing a tenure of 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history. He also served as music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and he has conducted for the Metropolitan Opera New York, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, La Scala Milano, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He cultivates young musical talent worldwide as co-chairman of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Bombay, with his brother Zarin, and the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv.

The Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago recognizes individuals who possess the qualities that six generations of the city's forebears used to advance Chicago's civic and cultural presence-a strong spirit of philanthropy and a commitment to improving the quality of life for all citizens. This year's honorees, Linda Theis Gantz and Wilbur "Bill" Gantz, have generously supported the Music Institute for nearly 30 years and previously served as Gala Vice Chairs. Bill is president of PathoCapital LLC, an investor in healthcare companies, and previously held leadership positions with several biopharmaceutical companies. He is a trustee of The Field Museum of Natural History, having ended his term as board chair on March 15, 2021, and has served on the boards of the Brain Research Foundation, Economic Club of Chicago, and Princeton University. Linda is well-known for her influential philanthropic work on behalf of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, serving on its Corporate Board and Women's Board. The couple is passionate about education and active in supporting Holy Family Ministries in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood. They moved to Chicago in 1975 and are proud to have raised their family here.

The Music Institute presented its Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence to Nina Wallenberg and Daniel Wallenberg. A member of the Music Institute's Suzuki cello faculty and Musikgarten early childhood music and movement program for more than 30 years, Nina is a member of the Northbrook Symphony and was formerly principal cellist of Orquestra Sinfonica del Valle in Cali, Colombia, and the Utah Valley Symphony. She previously taught at the Rubin Academy - Community Division in Jerusalem and at Brigham Young University. Daniel, a native of Bogotá, Colombia, has been conductor of the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale since 1987. He also conducts the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation adult and children's choirs and worked with Chicago Children's Choir's Neighborhood Choir programs in Rogers Park and Humboldt Park. He has extensive experience conducting collegiate, community, professional, and children's choral groups throughout the world and has many choral arrangements to his name.

In light of the cancellation of the 2020 Anniversary Gala due to the pandemic, the Music Institute also offered special recognition to the 2020 award recipients: Dushkin Award honoree and pianist Evgeny Kissin, Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago honoree Helen Zell, and Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence honorees Arlene Stokman and Abraham Stokman, all of whom spoke during the event.

The generosity of individuals and companies who support the Music Institute's annual Gala provide the single-largest source of funds for need-based financial aid and merit scholarships, as well as crucial underwriting for music education programs, performances, and service initiatives that benefit thousands of individuals throughout the Chicago region each year.

The Music Institute of Chicago is grateful to Shure, for its 90th Anniversary Technology Sponsorship, and to Abbott, ITW, and KPMG for sponsoring the 90th Anniversary Gala.


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