A Launchpad for Future Musical Stars
Founded in 1988, the Ravinia Steans Music Institute (RSMI) is an international destination for young professional pianists and string players, classical singers, and jazz musicians devoted to uniquely honing and advancing their talents as collaborative artists. Since opening its doors, RSMI has offered private coaching, master classes, and performance opportunities to over 1,500 exceptional musicians, many of whom have cultivated highly visible and successful careers in performance, leadership, and music education.
Selective and Intimate
The hallmark of RSMI is not only the quality but also the selectivity, intimacy, and immersion of its programs. With 15 participants in the Program for Jazz, up to 35 in the Program for Piano & Strings, and 15 in the Program for Singers, fellowships in each program are highly sought after. Each fellow enjoys personalized guidance from the world-class faculty of headlining artists and scholars.
Each of RSMI’s programs is devoted to small-group collaboration. The Program for Jazz comprises quintets playing original music instead of big bands and standards; the Program for Piano & Strings focuses on chamber music as opposed to concertos or orchestral works; and the Program for Singers emphasizes art song rather than opera, oratorio, or chorus. This repertoire is intentionally selected to provide particular musical growth opportunities in an atmosphere where fellows can focus completely on their craft and on the art of making music.
Jazz by Invitation
RSMI’s Program for Jazz is a one-week intensive focused on composition and small group collaboration. Fifteen fellows spend their first days rehearsing in different combos, studying composition and workshopping pieces with our illustrious faculty, and learning how to adapt to performing with ever-changing personnel. By mid-week, fellows are assigned their final quintets, each led by a member of the jazz faculty. At the end of their residency, musicians get to premiere their original works on the Bennett Gordon Hall stage. The Program for Jazz is invitation only—there is no application for participation.
Piano & Strings: Interpretation and Collaboration
RSMI’s Program for Piano & Strings concentrates on interpretation and small group collaboration through the practice and performance of classical sonata and chamber repertoire. Up to 35 violinists, violists, cellists, pianists, and members of pre-existing chamber groups gather for five weeks of immersive and intensive rehearsals and coachings with a rotating roster of some of the world’s finest teaching artists.
Voice: Tradition, Style, and Career Preparation
RSMI’s Program for Voice is a unique three-week program that allows singers to delve deeply into the vast repertoire of art song. Limited to 15 participants, fellows are paired with staff collaborative pianists to work with a faculty of distinguished musicians, pedagogues and scholars, on varied aspects of the musical tradition, including style, technique, language, diction, dramaturgy, performance, and career preparation.
RSMI musicians each receive a fellowship to engage in a life-changing summer of professional studies and performances tuition-free. Fellows are invited to take full advantage of the myriad opportunities during their musical immersion at RSMI, including attending Ravinia concerts, working with the world-renowned faculty, and creating lasting connections with their peers.
RSMI is located on the grounds of the Ravinia Festival in the John D. Harza Building. All performances take place in the purpose-built, 450-seat Bennett Gordon Hall, which has been praised as an acoustical gem by audiences and performers alike. The Harza Building also holds teaching studios, practice rooms, a robust music library, and an audio/video control room furnished with high-quality equipment for the recording of all events in Bennett Gordon Hall.
A Full Fellowship Program
All fellows accepted into one of RSMI’s programs receive a full fellowship covering all activities, including room and board, meals, and inter-campus transportation. Ravinia owns several homes within walking distance of the festival grounds, complete with kitchens, washers and dryers, wifi, and pianos. These houses help to establish a residential feeling for our fellows and provide a greater level of flexibility and independence. All fellows in the Programs for Jazz and Singers, and most of the Program for Piano & Strings, stay in these homes during their time at RSMI.
Highly Selective, Ultra Supportive
While acceptance is highly selective—limited to 65 fellows per summer across all programs—RSMI strives to foster a supportive, collegial, non-competitive environment for study and performance. Participants from around the world create a distinctive international community, forming connections that last far beyond their time in the John D. Harza Building. In addition to coaching and performances, fellows enjoy social activities with their colleagues, faculty, and alumni; outings to the city of Chicago; and access to Ravinia Festival’s diverse and unique summer concert lineup. For many faculty, RSMI is a “home away from home” and a highlight in their musical year. To learn more about the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, please visit our website at https://www.ravinia.org/Page/Steans. We also invite you to watch archived performances of the 2021 summer season (and previous summers) at https://www.youtube.com/ravinia.
Special thanks to Molly Sender of the Steans Institute for providing the content for this piece.