Celebrating 90 years of innovation, access, and excellence in music education, the Music Institute of Chicago hosts its 90th Anniversary Virtual Gala on Monday, May 10 at 6 p.m. CDT. Highlights of this festive evening include presentation of the Dushkin Award to Maestro Zubin Mehta, the 12th annual Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago to Linda Theis Gantz and Wilbur “Bill” Gantz, and the Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence to Nina Wallenberg and Daniel Wallenberg.
The evening features a prerecorded performance by Music Institute alumna and past Dushkin awardee violinist Rachel Barton Pine, along with prerecorded messages from additional past Dushkin awardees, including jazz icon Wynton Marsalis and violinists Joshua Bell, Midori, Pinchas Zukerman, and others. Other highlights include performances by alumni from the Music Institute’s renowned Academy program for gifted pre-college musicians, and current students from the Academy and the Music Institute’s Community Music School.
Honorary Gala Chairs are Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols. Co-Chairs are Scott and Areta Verschoor and Jeffrey and Christine Morse. Vice Chairs are Dr. Prema Abraham and Dr. Jim Buchanan, Dr. Sanjay and Rekha Jayaram, and Donna La Pietra and Bill Kurtis.
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. Past recipients include Evgeny Kissin, Wynton Marsalis, Stephen Sondheim, Maestro Riccardo Muti, and Yo-Yo Ma, among others.
This year’s Dushkin Award recipient, 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 presents 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 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 offers special recognition to the 2020 award recipients: Dushkin Award honoree pianist Evgeny Kissin, Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago honoree Helen Zell, and Colburn Award honorees Arlene Stokman and Abraham Stokman.
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.
The Music Institute of Chicago’s 90th Anniversary Gala
takes place Monday, May 10 at 6 p.m. CDT.
Admission to this virtual celebration is complimentary.
For event information or to make a gift, please visit musicinst.org/anniversary-gala.
Music Institute of Chicago
Celebrating its 90th anniversary, the Music Institute of Chicago leads people toward a lifelong engagement with music through unparalleled teaching, exceptional performances, and valuable service initiatives that educate, inspire, and build strong, healthy communities. Since its founding in 1931, the Music Institute’s commitment to innovation, access, and excellence has served as an important community resource and helps to ensure music is available to everyone. Each year, the Music Institute provides personalized music instruction to more than 1,500 students, regardless of age, level of experience, or financial means, across eight Community Music School locations in Chicago, Downers Grove, Evanston, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, and Winnetka, as well as online. In addition, the Music Institute brings music education, arts curriculum integration, professional development, and music performance and engagement opportunities to thousands in the Chicago area; offers scholarship opportunities to students in its Community Music School and its Academy, a nationally recognized training center for highly gifted pre-college pianists and string players; and (pre-pandemic) welcomes more than 15,000 visitors annually for performances, master classes, and special events at Nichols Concert Hall. For information, visit musicinst.org.
Photos: Courtesy of Music Institute of Chicago