First, I am so thrilled to be here! This is the perfect fit, and exactly what I was hoping for. It’s much smaller than I had realized, with 31 students (mostly string players and 5 pianists), which is really amazing. The level of care and commitment of the faculty is really quite remarkable, and these are truly some of the best pre-college musicians in the country. I am very excited about the amazing guest artists that will be visiting MIC this year, including Pamela Frank, Pinchas Zukerman, Ilya Kaler, Joshua Bell, and Rachel Barton Pine, and I am hoping to play for some of them.
The most exciting aspect of the Academy for me is definitely chamber music. I am in a Piano Trio and we call ourselves Akros, which is Greek for “highest”. We are working on Beethoven’s Archduke Trio and Copland’s Piano Trio. The coaches are quite excellent and detailed. We’re delving into a whole new level of detail that I didn’t even know existed. It’s basically an unspoken requirement at the Academy that all the chamber groups compete in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in the spring, so I am very excited to be working towards that. Our group has a slight logistical challenge because the pianist lives in Milwaukee and the cellist lives in Indiana, so rehearsals during the week are challenging, but we’re finding ways to make it work.
I have 2 private lessons per week, one with Mr. Vamos who works on scales and etudes, and one with Mrs. Vamos, who works on repertoire. I am currently working on Wieniawski Concerto no. 2, Sarasate Introduction and Tarantella, and the Bach Chaconne.
Mrs. Vamos is a brilliant teacher and I am already learning so much from her. She has studio class every other week, and all of her students perform at nearly every class, so I am being pushed with much more repertoire and am getting lots of performance opportunities – always a good thing.
I participate in the Academy’s string orchestra, and while I am not officially playing in a full orchestra this year, I feel honored to have been invited to participate in February with the Chicago Festival for Youth Orchestra under the direction of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) conductor, Riccardo Muti. Basically this is a week-long orchestral workshop at Symphony Center. The orchestra will consist of selected students from the Academy of MIC, members of the Civic Orchestra (the training orchestra of CSO), and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra itself. I am really looking forward to this great opportunity!
Also, I’ve been enjoying the really great cultural experiences of Chicago. Symphony Center is right across the street from the Art Institute. So whenever I am able to get a student ticket to a concert on Thursday evenings, I first go to the Art Institute, which is free on Thursday evenings! The Art Institute has the biggest Impressionist collection outside of Paris. The Chicago Symphony is a stunning orchestra, with such a rich, warm, vibrant sound. They have a huge and gorgeous concert hall. It’s really inspiring to regularly hear one of the best and most historic orchestras in the country live. I’ve also attended my first opera — the Marriage of Figaro at the Lyric Opera of Chicago! This was one of the most inspiring performances I’ve ever attended. We, as string players, can learn so much from singers, from how they sustain between the notes, to the drama, to the whole breathing process.
Some have asked what the Academy program is like. Aside from my 2 private lessons each week, I experience chamber music rehearsals, string orchestra rehearsals, music theory class, performance opportunities and watching my peers’ performances, master classes from visiting artists as I have mentioned, and enrichment classes, which include topics such as preparing for conservatory auditions, physical health/injury prevention, improvisation, and performance anxiety.
The Academy of MIC is an incredible opportunity for me, exceeding my expectations. I feel humbled and fortunate to be here! THANK YOU