Recent Alumni News


1.28.18 Maya Buchanan, 17, Rapid City, SD, who won First Prize in the Blount Slawson Young Artists Competition In addition to cash and scholarship awards with designation towards the study of music, Maya will perform with the Montgomery Symphony at the Davis Theater on April 30, 2018. Korngold Violin Concerto in D Major. Op. 35. Since 1981, the competition has grown from a local event with a dozen children vying for a few hundred dollars in prizes to a nationally recognized event where 70-80 young musicians compete for nearly $17,000 in prizes.

2018 - 1st Maya Buchanan, violin (alumna)

2016 - 1st Karisa Chiu, violin; Finalist - Nathan Mo, cellist

2013 - 1st Gallia Kastner, violin; 2nd Ade Williams, violin

2012 – 3rd Claire Bourg, violin

2011 – 1st Kelly Talim, violin; 3rd Alexandra Switala, violin
2010 – 1st Matthew Lipman, viola; Finalist - Vincent Meklis


1.18 Gallia Kastner, 20, Colburn Conservatory of Music, has been named the American Youth Symphony First Violins Concertmaster (The David Frisina Concertmaster Chair). The American Youth Symphony provides landmark Fellowships to musicians in high school through doctoral programs to prepare them for leadership in 21st Century orchestras and ensembles. Musicians receive in-depth exposure to the varied styles of symphonic music being performed today by professional orchestras, from classical masterworks to world premieres and innovative film scores. Competitively selected, Fellows receive a tuition-free scholarship, per-concert stipends, perform at renowned venues such as Royce Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall, and work alongside world-class guest artists such as Daníel Bjarnason, Anna Clyne, Sarah Chang, Johannes Moser, John Williams, David Newman, Alan Silvestri, Charles Fox, and Lera Auerbach. Designed to challenge, nurture, and inspire, the American Youth Symphony is a musical laboratory where Fellows not only master their parts and develop a deep understanding of musical scores, but also explore their role as musician citizens within their community. 


9.1.17 Violinist Maya Anjali Buchanan, 17, was honored to perform the Sibelius Violin Concerto in Chengdu China with the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra earlier this month. The average age of musicians in SSO is 30, making it the youngest symphony orchestra in mid-western China. The city is also home to the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a conservation center where visitors can view endangered giant pandas in a natural habitat. 


9.1.17 Born in 1992, Sophia Cho began her violin studies at the age of three in Chicago, Illinois. Since then, Sophia has enjoyed performing in venues such as Carnegie's Weill Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, and Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. In addition, she has participated in distinguished summer festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival and School and Music Academy of the West. Sophia received her Bachelor's degree from Rice University and a Master's degree from The Juilliard School. Her former mentors include David Chan, Catherine Cho, Paul Kantor, Almita Vamos, and Roland Vamos. Sophia will begin her orchestral career this fall as a member of the Indianapolis Symphony. Sophia was a member of the Academy from 2006 - 2010.


2.16.17 The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announced its second class of Emerging Artists, recognizing diverse talents, from a visionary filmmaker to world-class musicians. Each recipient was nominated by one of Lincoln Center's eleven resident organizations, acknowledging his or her extraordinary talent and budding career. The 2017 winners include the Calidore String Quartet. Violinists Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan (MIC graduate), violist Jeremy Berry, and cellist Estelle Choi formed the Calidore String Quartet in 2010 at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music. The quartet recently provided a master class at the Academy, where Ryan was a member from 2006-2008, studying with Roland and Almita Vamos.


The Emerging Artist Awards provide recognition and funding as artists chart their careers. Former honorees include cellist Alisa Weilerstein and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.


Calidore String Quartet, Chamber Music Society - Heralded for its informed, polished, and passionate performances, the Calidore String Quartet performs in prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, and festivals, including Verbier, Ravinia, and Mostly Mozart. Winner of the 2016 inaugural M-Prize, the largest chamber music prize in the world, the quartet is also a BBC New Generation Artist, member of Chamber Music Society Two, and recipient of the 2016 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship. The quartet received top prizes in the Fischoff, Coleman, Chesapeake, Hamburg, and ARD Munich competitions and serves as visiting guest artists at the University of Michigan and the University of Delaware Schools of Music. 



1.9.17  Erika Gray, 21, Curtis Institute of Music student and former Academy violist, will be performing as solo / principal viola ("Sancho Panza") for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances of Don Quixote, February 10th and 11th at Symphony Center. Erika's Curtis colleague, Oliver Herbert, will be playing solo / principal cello ("Don Quixote de la Mancha"). You can see a program note here.

The 2016/17 Family Matinee series features performances 11am and 12:45pm on Saturday, February 11th.


Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Edwin Outwater conductor

Erika Gray viola

Oliver Herbert cello

Sandra Delgado actor

Wes Daniel visual artist

David Kersnar director - See more at: 


11.19.16 Cellist Krystian Chiu, former student of Hans Jensen, has been accepted in the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall that takes place over winter break. Eight cellists were selected from a pool of applicants from around the country. A New York City holiday tradition for more than 40 years, the young musicians of the New York String Orchestra's seminar have made Christmas Eve a time to celebrate with great music. "This season they perform an all-Mozart program that features the stately overture to his opera Idomeneo, his virtuosic Violin Concerto No. 3 with soloist Jennifer Koh, and the magnificent "Jupiter" Symphony—his final symphony and one of his crowning achievements."


9.1.16 The Calidore String Quartet, (Jeff Myers, Ryan Meehan, Jeremy Berry, and Estelle Choi), is thrilled to be selected as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists (NGA).Over the next two seasons they will produce several recordings for the BBC which will be aired internationally on BBC broadcasting. In addition, they will perform in many of the major venues and festivals in the UK.Calidore violinist Ryan Meehan is a former MIC Academy student who studied with Almita Vamos. Calidore is also the first receipient of the $100,000 prize in M-Prize, an international chamber arts competition based in Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan. Also members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the quartet will perform the Mendelssohn Octet with the Emerson String Quartet on October 19, 2016 at the Harris Theater in Chicago. 


6.2016 Academy alumna and former Almita and Roland Vamos student Allie Switala will be in Chicago this summer rehearsing and performing in the Grant Park Orchestra as a member of the Project Inclusion Fellowship.

Allie is one of the newest fellows of Project Inclusion, a partnership with the Chicago Sinfonietta that guides young minority musicians in their career, with a goal of increasing diversity among orchestral ensembles. As part of the program, the f...ellows will be mentored by members of the Grant Park Orchestra and experience life as a professional musician. During the ten-week program, the quartet will also engage with the Chicago community, performing in neighborhoods around the city as part of Mayor Rahm Emanual's Night Out in the Parks, and leading workshops and demonstrations for Classical Campers, a music and arts immersion program that introduces young children to classical music.


5.19.16 The Calidore String Quartet of New York won the $100,000 grand prize at the inaugural M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition at the University of Michigan on Thursday night. The prize is the most lucrative award in the world for chamber music. Calidore violinist Ryan Meehan, a member of the Academy in its inaugural year, is a graduate of the Colburn School Conservatory of Music. His teachers include Robert Lipsett, Arnold Steinhardt, Almita Vamos, Roland Vamos and Amy Schwartz Moretti. In 2014, Ryan joined the faculty of Stony Brook University as an artist-in- residence and visiting assistant professor of music.

The Calidore quartet, which just completed a two-year residency at Stony Brook University of New York and whose members average 27 years of age, beat out two others ensembles in the Finals Concert — the Kenari Quartet, a saxophone ensemble from Indiana University in Bloomington, and Yarn/Wire, a quartet of two pianists and two percussionists based in New York. The Calidore quartet — which impressed the 15-member jury with its polished performances of standard repertory by Debussy, Haydn, Webern and Mendelssohn — already has a reputation as a fast-rising ensemble. It plays about 60 concerts a year, has major management with Opus 3 of New York and a trail of other competition victories in its wake. Still, Berry said M-Prize will take the group to another level of prominence.

In addition to the cash, the group wins performances in coming seasons on six important arts series in America and Germany, including the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor in 2016-17. 

Music Institute of Chicago Academy student and NEA Chair Jane Chu
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu visits MIC

MIC President and CEO Mark George discusses the state of the arts in America today with NEA Chairman Jane Chu >>