2019 Anniversary Gala

The Music Institute of Chicago, one of the nation’s most distinguished and respected community music schools, welcomed 300 guests to its 2019 Anniversary Gala on Monday, May 20 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The event raised more than $850,000 from a combination of table sponsorships, ticket sales, and outright contributions.


Members of Third Coast Suzuki String Program.  Photo by Ana Miyares

John Woolley, Paul DiLorenzo, Gage Bachmann. Photo by Ana Miyares

Wynton Marsalis performs with Music Institute students.  Photo by Bob Carl.

The evening included a cocktail reception, followed by an elegant dinner and awards presentation. Musical performances took place throughout the evening, representing every area of the Music Institute. Highlights included a New Orleans brass band procession; young musicians from the Community Music School; award-winning students from the Music Institute’s renowned Academy, a training center for gifted pre-college musicians; young string students from Third Coast Suzuki Strings, a violin program on Chicago’s Northwest Side in collaboration with the YMCA of Metro Chicago; and a surprise finale performance by 2019 Dushkin Award recipient Wynton Marsalis alongside Music Institute students.


Wynton Marsalis accepts the Dushkin Award. Photo by Ana Miyares.


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. This year’s recipient, Wynton Marsalis, is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator, and leading advocate of American culture. He has created and performed an expansive range of music for groups ranging from quartets to big bands, from chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, and from tap dance to ballet, expanding the vocabulary for jazz and classical music with a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers. Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards, was the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1997), and was honored with the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in 2015. Marsalis serves as the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and is the director of Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School in New York City.

MIC Chair Emerita and Honorary Co-Chair Alexandra Nichols presents the 2019 Cultural Visionary Award to Caryn and King Harris. Photo by Bob Carl.


The Music Institute presented its 10th annual Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago, which recognizes individuals who have provided visionary philanthropic and civic leadership for the broad spectrum of arts in Chicago and Illinois, to Caryn and King Harris. King is chairman of Harris Holdings, a family investment company, and a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Planning Council where he has focused on suburban housing policy issues for 15 years. He currently serves as board chair of the Illinois Housing Development Authority, vice-chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art board, Visiting Committee member of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, and a member of the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab’s Keystone Board. Caryn serves as a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she chairs the Photography Committee; the Harris Theater for Music and Dance; and the Field Museum. She remains a Life Trustee of the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden. She is also a Woman’s Board member of the Art Institute, the Field Museum, and the University of Chicago.

Chelsea Shephard, 2019 Richard D. Colburn Award recipient and MIC voice faculty Susan Charles, and MIC Board Chair and Gala Co-Chair Scott Verschoor.  Photo by Ana Miyares


In addition, the Music Institute presented its Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence, an annual award to faculty members who exemplify the high standard of excellence Colburn demonstrated in his many musical endeavors, to Susan Charles, a 41-year member of the voice faculty. The daughter of professional musicians, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and completed work towards a doctoral degree at the University of Texas in Austin. She has performed in concerts of art song and contemporary music throughout the United States and Europe, including the International Master Classes in Zurich, the Aspen Music Festival, the Guest Artist Series at the University of Texas, Preston Bradley Hall in Chicago, and more.

Christine and Jeff Morse with Wynton Marsalis.  Photo by Bob Carl.

MIC President and CEO Mark George, Jason Rubinstein, and Gala Co-Chairs Areta and Scott Verschoor (MIC Trustee). Photo by Bob Carl.


Honorary Gala Co-Chairs were Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols, Cate and Rick Waddell, and Dan and Karen Pritzker. Co-Chairs were Jeff and Christine Morse and Scott and Areta Verschoor.


Xena Quartet with coach Rodolfo Vieira and Wynton Marsalis.  Photo by Ana Miyares.

Members of the Jazz Ambassador Combo with 2019 Dushkin Award recipient Wynton Marsalis. Photo by Ana Miyares.

The generosity of individuals and companies who support the Music Institute’s annual gala provide the primary source of scholarship and financial aid programs at the Music Institute’s eight primary campuses, as well as through its extensive outreach programs in Chicago Public Schools and with community-based nonprofit organizations, which benefit more than 6,500 students annually.