Violin Faculty Addison Teng Tours Italy with MIC students

In November 2019, Music Institute of Chicago violin and chamber music faculty Addison Teng took three of his Music Institute students—Maia Law (age 17, Glencoe), Aria Messina (age 16, Chicago), and Kodai Speich (age 16, Rockford)—on a 10-day trip to San Marino and Italy, hosted by Istituto Musicale Sammarinese in San Marino; Conservatorio Bruno Maderna in Cesena, Italy; and Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali “Pietro Mascagni” in Livorno, Italy. The Music Institute students performed alongside local students and took masterclasses from conservatory professors. “The mission of this residency,” said Teng, “was to promote cultural ties through playing music as well as through the experience of violin techniques being taught throughout the world.”



This is the third trip of this kind that you’ve taken. Where did you go on the other trips and who went with you?

In the fall of 2018, I took several students to Thessaloniki, Greece. In the fall of 2016, I took several students to Cebu, Philippines. For each tour, I bring three to four students depending on the budget, each accompanied by a parent. These past three tours I have also brought my teaching assistant, who is also our accompanist.

How did this recent trip come about? Were you invited and, if so, what is the connection that prompted the invitation(s)?

The world is a small place for musicians! Word got around about my previous tours to Greece and the Philippines, as well as my various masterclasses throughout the years, and I was contacted by professors in San Marino and Italy about bringing a tour there. Each tour takes about 18–20 months to organize, from the first invitation to the actual tour—lots of emails and late nights spent on international phone calls with government agencies and musical institutions. During that time, I also do fundraising concerts by myself and with the students, as I personally pay for most of the tour.


Addison Teng giving a masterclass in Italy.


Please give us an overview of the places you traveled to in Italy and highlights from each place.

We arrived first in San Marino, a small country inside of Italy. We performed with the San Marino Orchestra in their Saint Cecilia’s Day concert, both as soloists and also in the orchestra. I gave masterclasses to the local students, and my students took masterclasses from the Sammarinese professors. We were also invited to meet the Captains Regent of San Marino, and all of our activities in San Marino were featured on national television and in the newspapers. It was fun for us to go to local restaurants and shops and be recognized as the violinists from Chicago! From San Marino we took a day trip to Cesena, Italy, where we gave and received masterclasses and presented a studio recital at the Conservatorio “B. Maderna.” After San Marino, we traveled to Livorno, Italy, where we also spent a few days in masterclass exchanges and gave a studio recital at the Istituto Musicale “P. Mascagni.” Our last day of the tour was spent in Bologna, Italy, where we gave one final concert at the Fondazione Instituto Liszt.

What did you envision as the goals of this trip—both for your Music Institute students and the people with whom you interacted? And did you accomplish those goals?

The idea for studio tours came about when I was on an airplane once traveling to give a masterclass. As I sat there preparing for the class, the thought came to me, “Why don’t I bring my students along with me to see what the life of a working musician is like?” My goals with these studio tours are to give my students a taste of the musician’s life as well as give them a fulfilling cultural experience. I want them to learn how violinists play and teach in different parts of the world and share what we do with others. I love seeing my students interact with their international peers. Even though language is often a barrier, music is a beautiful way to bring them together, whether it be sitting beside each other in an orchestra rehearsal or a masterclass. It doesn’t take long for them to start hanging out outside of musical activities at the local students’ favorite spots!

Did anything unexpected or unusual happen?

Driving in another country is always an experience! Luckily one of my students’ fathers had driven manual in the past, so he was in charge of driving the big van on our day trip to Cesena. On our first hill we discovered that the tank was not full as advertised, but thankfully there was a gas station just over the hill. As with any traveling, there were various hiccups and last-minute changes along the way. Being flexible is an important life skill to teach my students!


Maia and Aria visiting Pisa on their day off.


Do you have plans for any international travel with students in 2020?

Yes, we will be going on another tour this year—stay tuned!


For more photos of the trip, visit Teng’s website: