Summer marks the time when CMPI Fellows begin to leave their homes in the Chicago area and venture out into the world. For seniors, this is a time to send them off into adulthood, as they begin attending college and working toward their careers. High school students, especially sophomores and juniors who are required to attend a summer music program, are working hard at perfecting their craft at intense music programs throughout the country and even the world. For CMPI’s youngest students, day camps and outdoor concerts keep them engaged, preparing them for when they, too, will move beyond the Chicago area.
On June 17, CMPI seniors officially graduated from the program with a send-off ceremony at Merit School of Music. The evening began with a fun and interactive game, in which students and staff competed to correctly answer challenging questions about composers, music in general, jazz, and the CMPI program itself. After introductory remarks from Project Director James Hall, the ten graduating students each shared their wisdom, favorite memories, and a short musical selection.
With poignant and humorous anecdotes, much of the wisdom fell into the category of getting yourself organized for success. Seniors advised their younger future colleagues to make spreadsheets, check their email (every day!), and keep on top of their college applications. Other advice included staying in your lane and being yourself instead of comparing yourself to others.
Many students remarked that their favorite CMPI memory was the Chicago Youth in Music Festival, a shared experience with musical friends throughout the country, in which students were mentored by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra, and Chicago Sinfonietta, including Music Director Riccardo Muti. As these seniors move on to universities and conservatories, they will likely encounter many of these friends and mentors again.
The evening concluded with thoughts from Project Advisor Adrienne Thompson, the most memorable being that she’s never told any CMPI student that they are practicing too much! Snacks, social time, and goodbyes were shared, with even more one-on-one wisdom passed between students, parents, and CMPI staff members.
As part of the CMPI program, current sophomores and juniors are required to attend a four week or longer summer music program, institute, or festival, with financial support provided by CMPI. This year, CMPI fellows of all ages had the option of completing a free common application for summer study through the National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network (NIMAN), which allowed them to apply to more than a dozen different programs with one application and video. Many ended up receiving multiple acceptances and scholarships.
Students started departing for various summer programs in the past few weeks. This year, CMPI has students traveling all over the country – and even the world – for summer music study. A number of students are traveling with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra this month on their tour of Europe. Others have received spots in prominent programs including Meadowmount, National Youth Orchestra (NYO and NYO2), Heifetz Institute, Center Stage Strings, Interlochen, Yellow Barn, Verbier Festival, Sphinx Performance Academy, Kinhaven, Luzerne, and other similar programs. A future article will document student summer program experiences.
Summer in Chicago
For those fellows spending part or all of the summer in Chicago, there are numerous musical activities to stretch their horizons. Day camps at Merit School of Music, DePaul University, Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, and the Chicago Chamber Music Festival are just a few of the options for students staying local.
Summer also brings back a full slate of outdoor music concerts featuring some of the top musicians in the field. Grant Park Music Festival’s free outdoor concert series at Millennium Park brings together classic works with a slate of newer works and those by underrepresented composers. Fellows of their Project Inclusion program, a program that incorporates college-age musicians from underrepresented backgrounds into their orchestra and chorus, will present smaller concerts in parks around the city, often with music from diverse composers and styles. See the full schedule here.
Just north of Chicago, the Ravinia Festival features numerous concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as appearances by chamber musicians and college-age musicians studying at the Steans Institute program. Once again, Ravinia will provide free or reduced priced tickets for children and students who wish to attend classical performances. See the classical performance schedule here, as well as student ticket policies.
CMPI Fellows Here and Beyond
This year’s graduating class marked the third class of fellows for CMPI, meaning that past CMPI fellows are beginning to fill college and summer programs around the country. We know that they will take the wisdom they have gained from CMPI and spread it far and beyond.