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The Road to Fischoff

The Road to Fischoff

June 10, 2020


The Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago is a nationally recognized training center for highly gifted pre-college pianists and string players. The Academy provides a comprehensive musical education for students who aspire to be professional musicians. Auditions take place on an annual basis.  This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person auditions have been postponed until August.  For more information, please click here >>


During the spring 2020 "stay at home" order, we posed the question to our Academy students, what is it like to train and prepare for a competition as part of the Academy?

The students and parents of the Aurora Piano Quartet took up the challenge by chronicling their experience into this video.



The Aurora Piano Quartet consists of violinists/violists Sidney Lee and Elinor Detmer, cellist Amelia Zitoun, and pianist Colin Song. All four students are Scholarship Fellows at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy, a pre-college training program for advanced musicians. The group is coached by MIC faculty members Sang Mee Lee and Elaine Felder. The word “Aurora” is of Latin origin, and is derived from the Roman mythological Goddess of Dawn.  Our name suggests a tone of hopefulness, and we wish that, hearing our music, audiences will be inspired by our playing.  As the First Place Winner of the 2020 Rembrandt Chamber Musicians Competition, and a Quarterfinalist in the 2020 Fischoff National Chamber Competition, Aurora has enjoyed multiple performance opportunities.  In addition to being avid chamber musicians, each member of Aurora is an accomplished soloist.


Sidney, a student of Almita Vamos, was the 1st prize winner of the 6th Enkor International Violin Competition, and has won numerous awards from Alexander & Buono International String Competition, Lakeview Orchestra Young Artist, DePaul Concerto, Sejong, AMI, and SAM music competitions. She has also performed in the Chicago Cultural Center and Young Steinway Concert Series. Sidney, from Arlington Heights, is a 10th grader at Buffalo Grove High School.


Elinor, who studies with Almita Vamos and Davis King, was a co-concertmaster of the Chicago Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, has performed in master classes with Brian Lewis, Simon Fischer, and Robin Scott, and was a quarterfinalist at the 2019 Fischoff National Chamber Competition. Elinor, from Chicago, is a homeschool 10th grader.


Amelia, a student of Horacio Contreras, is the winner of the 2020 DePaul Concerto Competition, and has taken master classes with Mimi Zweig, Vladimir Perlin, and Tanya Carey. During the summer of 2019, Amelia attended the International Academy of Music in Nice, France, studying with Xavier Phillips and Jean-Marc Phillips. Amelia, from Shorewood, WI, is an 8th grader at Shorewood Intermediate School.


Colin, a student of Ralph Neiweem, was a member of Duo Appassionato, where he won first prize in the 2017 Chicago National Youth Competition for Piano Duos. He has been featured on WFMT’s Introductions and NPR’s From the Top; he was a finalist in the MTNA Senior Piano Duet Competition held in Orlando, and was invited to perform at the Smith Center in Las Vegas. Colin, from Glenview, recently graduated from Glenbrook South High School and will attend Emory University as a Woodruff Music Scholar. Colin plans to double major in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, and Piano Performance.


Aurora members also have unique talents and interests. Sidney can solve several Rubik’s cubes in the time it takes the chamber to tune. Elinor loves making (and eating!) gelato and macarons in her spare time. Colin has a pet gecko named ”Gyckoe.” Amelia studies advanced math via FaceTime with her physicist grandfather in France.