Current Student Achievements


11.7.15 MTNA-Music Teacher National Association Performance Competition

The purposes of the Music Teachers National Association Performance competitions are to provide educational experiences for students and teachers and to recognize exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence. The state competitions are considered the primary educational level with the division and national levels showcasing outstanding performance and honoring significant pedagogical achievement.

Round I -Illinois State Competition:

Josiah Yoo, student of Hans Jensen- Illinois State Winner, Senior String Division
Steven Song, student of Gerardo Ribeiro -Illinois State Alternate, Senior String Division

Natalie Nedvetsky, student of Jim Giles, Illinois State HM, Senior Piano Division


Next: East Central Divisional Round: January 15–16, 2016 Goshen College, Goshen, IN - Josiah Yoo and John Schindler, student of Alan Chow, (WI State winner) will advance to East Central Divisional. 


Freya Irani, 17, viola student of Roland and Almita Vamos, received an Honorable Mention at the Bolz Young Artist Competition in Madison, WI, held November 7, 2015. Young artists from across the state of Wisconsin compete in the Bolz Young Artist Competition's two preliminary rounds for a chance to perform a movement from a concerto with the Madison Symphony Orchestra during the final round, which will be held in the Capitol Theater at the Overture Center in January 2016. 


CONGRATULATIONS TO ACADEMY ALUMNA KATE LIU 17th International Chopin Competition - 3rd Place Bronze Medal Winner! 

It isn't just every day, or every year for that matter, that any competitor from the United States is among the Chopin International Competition finalists and prizewinners. In fact, no American has won a first prize since 1970. It's a very select group of pianists who share the honor, a group which includes such famous pianists as Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Garrick Ohlsson and Mitsuko Uchida. However 2015 was a breakthrough year for the United States and for one very special pianist, Kate Liu. At age 21, Liu, this young pianist, originally from Winnetka, has taken the music world by storm. She first began her studies at the Music Institute of Chicago in 2004 with the late Emilio del Rosario and went on to study with Micah Yui and Alan Chow at MIC before her acceptance to the Curtis Institute of Music in 2013 where she currently studies with Robert McDonald. She was member of the inaugural Academy class at the Music Institute, a program which has consistently produced top performing classical musicians like violinist Ben Beilman, violist Matthew Lipman and cellist Gabriel Cabezas. 


From Warsaw, Poland:  Monday, October 19, 2015 by David Polk 

Last night, the finals of the Chopin Piano Competition began in the national concert hall here in Warsaw, Poland. For the last three weeks, this hall has been the center of great speculation, emotion, excitement, disappointment and music, culminating in ten performances of concertos by Chopin's great national hero.


On this first night of the finals, there was a clear winner, at least according to the audience's response, and that was Winnetka native Kate Liu. Of four performances of the same concerto (Chopin's first concerto), Liu performed fourth. And while many in the hall looked a bit tired after hearing the same piece for the third time, the audience and orchestra perked up and the few remaining empty seats filled up as the Music Institute of Chicago alumna touched the keys of the Steinway.

The orchestra didn't even finish playing its final notes before yells of excitement were heard and about half the audience rose to their feet, which did not happen for the other performers.


The critical response by the brutally honest press here in Poland has been positive. After her third round performance, Dorota Szwarcman of the weekly magazine Polityka wrote that other performers were "eclipsed by Kate Liu." Music lovers and music press alike have been surrounding Kate, wondering whether she'll be crowned the next Chopin champion in less than 48 hours.


WFMT's live broadcast of the Chopin Competition winner's concert from Warsaw begins at noon CST Wednesday. Live daily 9 am reports continue through Tuesday. ( 


10.14.15 The Sphinx Virtuosi graced the Perelman Stage of Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium marking the twelfth anniversary of this concert series. In addition to the featured performance, Sphinx Virtuosi violinist Hannah White, student of Almita Vamos and Hye-Sun Lee, was presented the Linda and Isaac Stern Charitable Foundation Award, for her artistry and talent. The scholarship is named after Isaac Stern, violinist, educator, humanitarian, and savior of Carnegie Hall. Hannah is touring with the critically acclaimed all Black and Latino Sphinx Virtuosi, a conductorless ensemble comprised of alumni winners of the Sphinx Competition. 


10.10.15  John Schindler, piano student of Alan Chow,  won the MTNA WI State Senior Piano Competition last week, and will move on to the East Central Division Competition in Goshen, Indiana on January 16. John performed Bach Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue in D minor, Beethoven Op. 7, mvt. I, and Ravel - Gaspard de la nuit "Ondine" and "Scarbo". 


10.1.15 Joshua Brown, violin student of Almita and Roland Vamos, will perform on Copland's Music of the Heartland Concert with the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra at 7:00pm on Saturday, October 17.

From the website: Rounding out the program will be violin phenom and Stanger Young Artist Audition Winner, Joshua Brown performing Waxman's "Carmen".


Andrew Guo, piano student of Alan Chow, will perform at the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the American Liszt Society's Fifth Annual Franz Liszt Birthday Celebration Gala at Nichols Concert Hall, Saturday, October 24 at 7:30pm. Andrew will perform "Tarantella" (Venezia e Napoli).


Daniel Szefer, piano student of Ralph Neiweem, will perform at his CSO debut with Paderewski Symphony Orchestra at Chicago Symphony Center at 3:00pm on Sunday, November 8. The Orchestra honors the legacy of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), one of the greatest pianists from the Golden Age of Piano. 


9.1.15 Natalie Nedvetsky, piano student of Jim Giles, has been selected to participate in the Wilhelm Kempff Academy Beethoven Master Classes in Positano, Italy in October. In 1957 Wilhelm Kempff held his first Beethoven course in his house "Casa Orfeo" in Positano/southern Italy, which was built according to his own plans. The inauguration of the first course took place with the participation of his friend and colleague Alfred Cortot and he continued holding these courses until 1982. Over the years a large number of successful pianists of later generations arrived to work in peace and quiet on Beethoven's sonatas and piano concertos.


9.1.15 Hannah White, violin student of Hye-Sun Lee and Almita Vamos, will once again tour with SPHINX VIRTUOSI, one of the nation's most dynamic professional chamber orchestras. Comprised of 18 of the nation's top Black and Latino classical soloists, these alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition come together each fall as cultural ambassadors to reach new audiences. Hanna will tour with Academy alum and former Almita Vamos violin student, Clayton Penrose Whitmore.  



7.31.15 2015 Academy wins Gold and Silver in  Thomas & Evon Cooper International Competition 

Eighteen-year-old Gallia Kastner and 15-year-old Belle Ting were both awarded first-prize medals. Second prize went to 15-year-old Joshua Brown for his stunning performance of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1.

In truth, a case could be made for all three contestants earning first prize. Kastner's authoritative performance of Brahms' Violin Concerto in D, Ting's sparkling reading of Glazunov's rarely played Concerto in A minor and Brown's soulful take on the Shostakovich were all on an Olympian level. For more on the final performances, please click on this review:  


7.30.15 The Thomas & Evon Cooper International Competition has announced the three finalists who will perform complete concerti with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH on Friday night, July 31:

Joshua Brown (MIC Academy, Gurnee, IL), Gallia Kastner (MIC Academy, Arlington Heights, IL), and Belle Ting (Taiwan).


The Audience Award was presented to Joshua Brown.


Karisa Chiu (MIC Academy, Palatine, IL) was awarded 4th place ($1,000) and Maya Buchanan (MIC Academy, Rapid City, SD) received 6th place ($1,000).


Prizes to be awarded on Friday include $10,000 for first place, $6,000 for second place, and $3,000 for third place. The top three contestants will also be eligible for a full tuition scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

The Music Institute of Chicago is proud of the incredibly talented violin students who participated in the competition over the past few days--Hannah White, Zachary Brandon, Julian Rhee, Nicholas Brown, Ria Honda (Top 10 Finalist), Karisa Chiu (4th place - Top 6 Recital Finalist), Maya Buchanan (6th place - Top 6 Recital Finalist), Joshua Brown, (Top 3 finalist) and Gallia Kastner (Top 3 finalist).


7.9.15  Maya Buchanan has been named Runner-Up in the Aspen Music Festival and School Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Competition.

Collaborative Pianist: Tamara Goldstein 


6.2.15 Hannah White, 15, violin student of Almita Vamos and Hye-Sun Lee, has been named a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholar. Jack Kent Cooke is a private, independent foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. The Foundation supports exceptional students from elementary school to graduate school through scholarships, grants, direct service, and knowledge creation and dissemination. Previous Academy winners include Mira Williams, Adé Williams, and Matthew Lipman. 



6.2.15 Fortis Piano Quartet , grand prize winner of the 3rd Annual A.N. & Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition, recorded on Introductions, 98.7 WFMT, which will be aired later this summer.  Joshua Brown and Kitsho Hosotani, violin/viola, Nathan Mo, cello, Daniel Szefer, piano are coached by Tatyana Stepanova and Rodolfo Vieira.