• Kim Piekos

Hitting a High Note: Lake Forest College Welcomes Music Institute of Chicago

By Kim Piekos

Joining the backpack-laden students at Lake Forest College this fall were nearly three dozen exceptional 13-to-19-year-old musicians who were part of the Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago (MIC). The Academy relocated its program to Lake Forest College after more than a decade in the Harza Building at Ravinia. “Lake Forest College was my first choice when it came to places to potentially move the program,” said MIC Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Sue Polutnik. “I had performed there with students in the past and knew the campus and facilities would work well for our students, coaches and families.”

“Our students benefit from experiencing what it’s like to be on such a beautiful college campus while they perform orchestra and chamber music,”says the Music Institute of Chicago's Sue Polutnik.

The Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago, a pre-conservatory training program for advanced string and piano musicians, is the only youth program at the institute which requires auditions. Now in its 16th year, faculty, staff and students come together for an intensive 30-week program on Saturdays that includes private instruction, chamber music, multiple levels of music theory, regular master classes and a variety of performance opportunities. String players participate in orchestra and pianists study piano literature, keyboard skills, history and improvisation.

“The master classes, discussion panels, lectures and workshops with professional experts and masterful pedagogues provide Academy students with a broad view of the world of music,” explained Polutnik. “The relationships that are developed can be helpful to these students down the road in their careers.”

Polutnik believes Lake Forest College is a perfect place to hold the Academy each week. “The Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel is a comfortable performance space with good acoustics for our musicians,” she said. “Our students benefit from experiencing what it’s like to be on such a beautiful college campus while they perform orchestra and chamber music.”

Though most students this year are from the Chicago area and neighboring Midwest states, in past years students have hailed from across the United States and globe to attend the program. “Many families choose to move here so that their child can attend this comprehensive and intensive music program,” Polutnik explains. “Some students fly in every week. These students are devoted to working toward professional music careers.”

Polutnik is looking forward to good synergy between the Academy and Lake Forest College. “Our collaborative partnership will enrich Academy musicians as well as the College’s music students through master classes and concerts available to everyone. This is a win-win for both organizations. We hope the relationship continues for a long time.”