One of the nation’s oldest, largest and most distinguished community music schools, the Music Institute of Chicago welcomed more than 350 guests to its 86th anniversary gala on Wednesday, May 25 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The event raised more than $850,000 from a combination of table sponsorships, ticket sales, and outright contributions.

The evening included cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by an elegant dinner and awards presentation. Musical performances took place throughout the evening and featured young musicians from Music Institute outreach, Community Music School and Academy programs. At the end of the evening, Dushkin Award recipient Joshua Bell graciously surprised guests with a performance of Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo in D Minor alongside Music Institute students.

​The prestigious Dushkin Award, established 30 years ago and named for the Music Institute’s visionary founders, Dorothy and David Dushkin, recognizes international luminaries in the world of music for their contributions to the art form, as well as to the education of youth. This year’s recipient, Joshua Bell, is one of the most celebrated violinists of his generation. Equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and orchestra leader, Bell is music director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. He performs with orchestras across the U.S. and last summer toured to South Africa and Shanghai. He has recorded more than 40 CDs on the Sony Classical label and has made numerous television appearances. Convinced of the value of music as both a diplomatic and an educational tool, he has performed for three U.S. Presidents as well as the President of China and devoted himself to several charitable causes, most notably Education Through Music, which has helped put instruments in the hands of thousands of kids in America’s inner cities.

​The Music Institute also presented its seventh annual Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago, which recognizes individuals who have provided visionary philanthropic and civic leadership for the broad spectrum of arts in Chicago and Illinois, to Lois M. and Harrison I. Steans. With their three daughters, they co-founded the Steans Family Foundation in Chicago 30 years ago. Dedicated to the belief that long-term personal involvement with individuals can change lives and communities, the foundation’s mission is to improve community development in Chicago. The Steans family has made a commitment to North Lawndale, directing much of their foundation’s annual grants budget directly to working with residents on capacity building/leadership, economic development, education and youth development, housing, health and human services, and quality of life. Lois and Harrison Steans have been longstanding friends of the Music Institute, along with numerous other organizations throughout the Chicago area.

​In addition, the Music Institute acknowledged the nearly 40-year legacy of violin and viola faculty Roland and Almita Vamos with the Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence, an annual award to faculty members who exemplify the high standard of excellence Colburn demonstrated in his many musical endeavors. Among the leading violin and viola instructors in the world, Roland and Almita Vamos have provided private instruction to hundreds of advanced violin and viola students during their tenure at the Music Institute. Recognized multiple times at the White House and named Distinguished Teachers by the National Endowment for the Arts, they are known for preparing high-achieving students who have become prominent soloists, members of world-renowned chamber groups and orchestras and laureates of prestigious international competitions.

Honorary Chairs for this year’s gala were Mary B. Galvin, George Gingold, and Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols. Co-chairs were Fran and John Edwardson, Nancy and Scott Santi, and David F. Heroy and Joycelyn Winnecke.

​Funds raised through the event support scholarship and financial aid programs that benefit more than 5,000 students annually at the Music Institute’s six primary campuses, as well as through its extensive outreach programs in Chicago Public Schools and with community-based nonprofit organizations.

​For more information about the Music Institute and its programs and concert series, visit

Music Institute's 86th Annual Gala Honors Joshua Bell with Dushkin Award

The Music Institute of Chicago awarded celebrated violinist Joshua Bell with the prestigious Dushkin Award in this year's institute gala, which raised $850 scholarship initiatives. Bell posed with Music Institute student Kelly Kim (photo by Bob Carl).