Summer Violin Institute

Apply to the Summer Violin Institute via the Summer Application

Blair Milton, Frank Almond, Miriam Fried, Ilya Kaler, Paul Kantor, Gerardo Ribeiro, Lucie Robert, Joel Smirnoff

  • MUSIC 320-0-20 Performance Practicum 0-1.0 credit (additional charge to register for credit)
  • Two Weeks, Evanston Campus, June 27-July 8, 2016
  • Pick-Staiger Concert Hall and Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
  • Participant tuition: $950, Full Program Auditors: $500, Per Day Auditors (2 sessions): $60, Per Session Auditors: $30 (non-credit)

The Summer Violin Institute is an intensive two-week program that offers participants the opportunity to work with renowned violin faculty. The master class format provides a unique environment for students to receive individual instruction while also benefiting from knowledge imparted to the group in a collective setting. The program is designed to develop strong technical ability, advanced musical skills, thorough knowledge of repertoire and healthy practice habits. Students will participate in a variety of master classes, technique classes and performances.

Audition requirements

A digital audio recording (video recording preferred) including the first movement of a Violin Concerto from the standard repertoire and one movement of a Bach solo Sonata or Partita (10 minutes total).

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted via the Summer Application. Upon creating a file in the Application, applicants should select “Summer Session” as their application type, and then select the workshop to which you are applying. This will ensure that your file is distributed to the correct reviewers. No separate application form is necessary--do not submit an application to Northwestern University via the Common Application or Graduate Music Online Application. Applicants will be asked to upload a detailed resume as well as all audition requirements for the performance offerings. NOTE: No paper applications will be accepted. Do not mail recordings to the Bienen School of Music or to faculty, as these will not be reviewed or returned.

The deadline for participant applications is April 15, 2016. Auditors are encouraged. The deadline for accepted participant registration with full tuition due is May 6, 2016.

For more information contact the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music Office of Admission and Financial Aid at 847-491-3141 or

2016 Summer Violin Institute Schedule

Monday, June 27

9:30 am – 10:00 am Registration
10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass  Ilya Kaler
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Ilya Kaler

Tuesday, June 28

10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass – Joel Smirnoff
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Joel Smirnoff
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Great Violins – a discussion by Joe Bein from Bein and Fushi

Wednesday, June 29

10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass – Blair Milton 
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Blair Milton 
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Care and selection of bows

Thursday, June 30

9:00 am – 10:00 am Scale Slam
10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass – Frank Almond
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Blair Milton
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Historical Recordings: Masters of the Violin — Past and Present

Friday, July 1

9:00 am – 10:00 am Spiccatto Slam – Blair Milton
10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass – Blair Milton
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Miriam Fried
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Long-Term Injury Prevention for the Violinist 

Saturday, July 2

10:30 am – 12:30 pm – Frank Almond 
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Blair Milton
7:30 pm Recital – TBD

Sunday, July 3

8:30 am – 11:00 am Masterclass – Paul Kantor
12:00 pm – 2:30 pm Masterclass – Paul Kantor

Monday, July 4

No classes

Tuesday, July 5

9:00 am  10:00 am Scales, technique
10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass  Lucie Robert
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Lucie Robert

Wednesday, July 6

10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass – Blair Milton
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Blair Milton 
7:30 pm – Recital - TBD

Thursday, July 7

10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass – Gerardo Ribeiro
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Gerardo Ribeiro

Friday, July 8

10:00 am – 12:30 pm Masterclass – Gerardo Ribeiro
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Masterclass – Gerardo Ribeiro

Faculty and Guest Artist Biographies

Frank Almond

Frank Almond

Violinist Frank Almond holds the Charles and Marie Caestecker Concertmaster Chair at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Now celebrating his 20th season with the MSO, he has also held positions as Concertmaster of the Rotterdam Philharmonic with Valery Gergiev and Guest Concertmaster of the London Philharmonic with Kurt Masur.  In addition, he maintains an active schedule of solo and chamber music performances in the US and abroad, has been a member of the chamber group An die Musik in New York City since 1997, and also directs the somewhat notorious Frankly Music Chamber Series based in Milwaukee.

At 17, he was one of the youngest prizewinners in the history of the Nicolo Paganini Competition in Genoa, Italy, and five years later was one of two American prizewinners at the Eighth International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, which was documented in an award-winning PBS film.

He has recorded for AVIE, Summit, Albany, Innova, Boolean (his own label), Newport Classic, Wergo and New Albion, receiving much critical acclaim and multiple Grammy nominations.  His most recent recording for AVIE is A Violins Life, partially chronicling the history and pedigree of the violin he currently plays, the 1715 Lipinski Stradivari. Funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter project, the CD debuted in the Billboard Top Ten Classical in its first week of release, and continues to receive enormous critical acclaim.  A Violin’s Life, Vol. 2 is scheduled for release in May 2016.

On January 27, 2014, the “ex-Lipinski” Stradivari was stolen from Mr. Almond in an armed robbery after a concert. The violin was recovered nine days later, and the story continues to make headlines around the world. Mr. Almond is extremely grateful to the Milwaukee Police Department, the FBI, and the thousands of individuals who sent messages of concern and support.

Mr. Almond holds two degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Dorothy Delay. Other important teachers included Michael Tseitlin, Felix Galimir, and Joseph Silverstein.  In August 2014 he began an Artist/Teacher appointment at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, as well as a newly created Artist-in-Residence position at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony.

Mr. Almond writes an online column, nondivisi, which may be found, along with more information about Frankly Music, A Violin’s Life and the Lipinski Stradivari, at

Miriam Fried

Miriam FriedMiriam Fried has been recognized for years as one of the world’s preeminent violinists. A consummate musician—equally accomplished as recitalist, concerto soloist or chamber musician—she has been heralded for her “fiery intensity and emotional depth” (Musical America) as well as for her technical mastery. Fried has played with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Europe and has been a frequent guest with the principal orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Vienna Symphony.

Recital tours have taken her to all of the major music centers in North America and to Brussels, London, Milan, Munich, Rome, Paris, Salzburg, Stockholm, and Zurich.

In recent seasons, her schedule has included orchestral engagements with such prestigious ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Czech Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Orquesta Filarmonica de Mexico, the Japan Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony, and the BBC Philharmonic.

Since 1993, she been chair of the faculty at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians. Her involvement there has included regular performances, including recitals and concerts with the Chicago Symphony. Fried’s highly praised 1985 New York recitals of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin were the culmination of three years of international performances. She returned to this music with a recording made in France for the Lyrinx label.

Chamber music plays an important role in Fried’s musical life. She is a member of the Mendelssohn String Quartet and has collaborated with such distinguished artists as Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Garrick Ohlsson, Nathaniel Rosen, and her husband, violinist/violist Paul Biss. She has been featured guest artist at Chamber Music East in Boston, the La Jolla Chamber Music Society SummerFest, the Lockenhaus Festival, and the Naantali Festival in Finland.

Miriam Fried’s successful solo career was launched in 1968 after she was awarded First Prize in Genoa’s Paganini International Competition. Three years later she claimed top honors in the Queen Elisabeth International Competition, where she gained further world attention by becoming the first woman ever to win the prestigious award. Her early childhood included lessons with Alice Fenyves in Tel Aviv, as well as the opportunity to meet and play for the many great violinists who visited Israel, including Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Henryk Szeryng, Zino Francescatti, and Erica Morini. She came to the United States as a protégée of Isaac Stern, and continued her studies with Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School and with Joseph Gingold at Indiana University.

Ilya Kaler

Ilya Kaler

Ilya Kaler is one of the most outstanding personalities of the violin today, whose career ranges from that of a soloist and recording artist to chamber musician and professor.

Kaler earned rave reviews for his solo appearances with such distinguished orchestras throughout the world as the Leningrad, Moscow and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras, Montreal Symphony, Danish and Berlin Radio Orchestras, Moscow and Zurich Chamber Orchestras, as well as many of the major American orchestras. Kaler collaborated with a number of outstanding conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Dmitry Kitayenko, Mariss Jansons and Jerzy Semkow. His solo recitals have taken him throughout the five continents.

Kaler also performed at many concert venues around the world as a member of The Tempest Trio with cellist Amit Peled and pianist Alon Goldstein. The trio had recently recorded their debut CD for Naxos record company which features complete set of piano trios by Antonin Dvorak.

Kaler's orchestral career includes guest Concertmaster appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburg Symphony and Baltimore Symphony, as well as tours with the World Orchestra for Peace under the direction of Valery Gergiev. He held Concertmaster positions with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, NY and the Lake Forest Symphony, IL.

One of the most sought-after teachers in the world, Kaler held Professor of Violin positions at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and at the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, IN. Kaler currently serves as Professor of Violin at the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago. He frequently serves as a jury member at international violin competitions throughout the world.

Ilya Kaler received his education at the Moscow Central Music School under Zinaida Gilels and at the Moscow State Conservatory under Leonid Kogan and Victor Tretyakov. Further influence and inspiration came from his long-time mentor, fine violinist and teacher Abram Shtern.

Kaler is a Gold Medal winner at three of the world’s prestigious international violin competitions: the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (1986), the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki (1985), and the Paganini Competition in Genoa (1981).

 Kaler records exclusively for Naxos Records. His highly acclaimed albums include Sonatas by Schumann and Brahms, Concertos by Paganini, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Schumann, Dvorak, Glazunov, Szymanowski, Karlowicz, as well as Taneyev Suite, Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and Ysaye's Six Sonatas for Violin Solo.

Paul Kantor

Paul Kantor

Paul Kantor is currently the Sally Shepherd Perkins Professor of Violin at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University having previously served as the Eleanor H. Biggs Distinguished Professor of Violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard studying violin with Dorothy DeLay and chamber music with Robert Mann. For thirteen years he served as Chair of the String Department at the University of Michigan and has taught at the Juilliard School, the New England Conservatory and Yale University. He continues as Artist in Residence at the Glenn Gould School of Music/ Royal Conservatory of Music since his appointment in 2008. Along with his son, violinist Timothy Kantor, he founded and directs the Gabriel Del Orbe Violin Program in the Dominican Republic.

Additionally, he has presented master classes at the Starling-Delay Symposium, Indiana University, the Eastman School, the University of Southern California and the New World Symphony, among others. His students consistently win major awards at important violin competitions including the Indianapolis, Montreal, Stulberg, Buenos Aires, Klein and Fischoff.

For the past 37 years he has been on the Artist/Faculty of the Aspen Music Festival & School where he has been concertmaster of both the Festival Orchestra and the Chamber Symphony. He has performed as soloist with numerous symphony orchestras as well as serving as concertmaster of the New Haven Symphony, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and the Great Lakes Festival Orchestra. Kantor was a member of The New York and Lenox string quartets, the Berkshire Chamber Players and the National Musical Arts Chamber Ensemble in Washington, D.C.

Kantor has performed the world premieres of Dan Welcher's Violin Concerto, (subsequently recorded with Larry Rachleff and Symphony II) as well as John Corigliano's "Red Violin Caprices". His recordings can be found on the labels of Equilibrium, CRI, Delos and Mark Records. In 2014 he was honored with the Artist Teacher Award from the American String Teachers Association.

Blair Milton, Summer Violin Institute Director

Blair Milton

Blair Milton joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1975 and four years later became a founding member of the Evanston Chamber Ensemble. As the founder of the Winter Chamber Music Festival, now in its 17th season, he has performed with Daniel Barenboim, Gil Shaham, Menahem Pressler, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell, Arnold Steinhardt and Janos Starker, among others. He has appeared on the Ravinia Festival Chamber Music Series and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Artist Series, as soloist with the Chicago String Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Georg Solti. A member of Northwestern University’s violin faculty since 1984, Milton was director of the string program for Northwestern’s National High School Music Institute from 1998-2010. He has given master classes across the United States as well as in South America, Germany, and Japan. A student of Josef Gingold at Indiana University, where he earned a master’s degree, Milton also studied with Ivan Galamian and former CSO concertmaster Sidney Harth.

Gerardo Ribeiro

Gerardo Ribeiro

Gerardo Ribeiro has appeared throughout the world as featured soloist with major orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Gulbenkian Orchestra of Lisbon. His numerous awards in prestigious international competitions include first prizes at the Vianna da Motta in Lisbon and the Maria Canals in Barcelona. Prior to joining the Northwestern University faculty as professor of violin,  Ribeiro was associate professor of violin at the Eastman School of Music. He records for the EMI and RCA labels, having released several concerto CDs; his RCA recordings include the Brahms Violin Concerto and Double Concerto, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Radio Orchestras of Hannover and Berlin as well as the violin sonatas of Beethoven and Brah Ribeiro has earned high acclaim for his tours of the former Soviet Union, South America and China. He joined the Meadowmount School of Music faculty the summer of 2004, and has served as artistic director of the International Chamber Music Institute in Munich and has performed at the Marlboro and Lucerne International Music Festivals.

Ribeiro is also on the faculties of Midwest Young Artists and Music Institute of Chicago. He is currently Co-Chair of the Department of Music Performance and Coordinator of the Strings Program.

Lucie Robert

Lucie Robert

Violinist Lucie Robert has received enthusiastic praise from audiences and critics alike for the expressive lyricism and tonal beauty of her playing. Allan Kozinn, writing in the New York Times, lauded her “melting tone” and “wonderfully supple approach to phrasing.” Robert carries on the great violin tradition of her teacher and mentor, the legendary Josef Gingold.

Robert has appeared as a recitalist and chamber musician throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Far East in major music centers including New York, London, Chicago, Washington D.C., Vienna, Beijing, Seoul, Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. She has performed as violin soloist with the major orchestras in Canada, including the Montreal Symphony under Charles Dutoit. Robert has also collaborated in chamber music with artists such as Menahem Pressler, Philippe Entremont, Claude Frank, and Isidore Cohen. As a recording artist, she has performed for National Public Radio, the CBC Radio Network, Radio Canada, and Radio France, and received critical acclaim for her recording of violin sonatas by Fauré and Saint-Saëns. An active participant in the summer music festival scene, Robert has been the guest artist or faculty member at festivals such as Bowdoin, the American Conservatoire at Fontainebleau, Musicorda, Meadowmount, Orford, Waterloo, and the Busan Music Festival. She is currently on the faculties of the Texas Music Festival at the Moores School of Music; the MusicAlp Academy in Courchevel, France; and the Duxbury Music Festival in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Highly sought after as a violin pedagogue, Robert has served for over twenty-five years as violin professor at the Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes College of Music in New York City. She has given master classes throughout the world at prestigious institutions such as Seoul National University, the Central Conservatory in Beijing, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, the Glenn Gould School and the Conservatoire de Musique de Montreal. Her students have won prizes in major international competitions including Indianapolis, Young Concert Artists, Paganini, Sendai, and the China International Violin Competition. Robert has served as an adjudicator for many competitions including the Montreal International Violin Competition, the International Fritz Kreisler Violin Competition, and the Jozsef Szigeti International Violin Competition.

Joel Smirnoff

Joel Smirnoff

Joel Smirnoff holds the Mary Elizabeth Callahan President's Chair at CIM. He is a native of New York City and former chair of the violin department at The Juilliard School. He has been a member of the Juilliard String Quartet since 1986, and the ensemble's leader since 1997. The Quartet, founded in 1947, has become a living American legend and won four GRAMMY Awards.

Formerly the group's second violinist, Smirnoff attended the University of Chicago and The Juilliard School and was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for six years. Second Prize-winner in the International American Music Competition in 1983, he made his New York recital debut in 1985 at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall as part of the Emerging Artists series and at Town Hall as part of the Midtown Masters series. In 1997, he was featured violin soloist at Tanglewood in a concert dedicated to the memory of violinist Louis Krasner, performing the Berg Violin Concerto under the direction of Bernard Haitink.

Smirnoff has participated in the world premiere of numerous contemporary works, many of which were composed for him.  Smirnoff is a Sony recording artist and has solo recordings on GM, CRI and Northeastern Records.  Smirnoff has served as Chair of the Violin Department at The Juilliard School since 1993 and served as Head of String Studies at the Tanglewood Music Center during the late 1990s.  Smirnoff has been on the faculty of Tanglewood since 1983. He has served on the juries of the Naumburg and Indianapolis Violin Competitions.

Smirnoff also pursues an active career as a conductor, both in the U.S. and abroad. In the summer of 2000, he made his official American conducting debut with the San Francisco Symphony, conducting an all-Tchaikovsky program. He has also been a frequent guest with the New World Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. In May 2004, he received rave reviews for his debut with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, replacing Peter Oundjian, who had fallen ill. In Europe, Smirnoff has conducted the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and a European tour with the Basel Sinfonietta and Charles Rosen as soloist in the Elliott Carter Piano Concerto.

Smirnoff has led both the Juilliard Symphony and the Juilliard Orchestra in concert. He has also appeared in concert with the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Phoenix Symphony, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Western New York Chamber Orchestra and the Texas Music Festival Orchestra.

Smirnoff also plays jazz, performing frequently as improvising soloist with Tony Bennett. His solos were featured on the GRAMMY Award-winning CD Tony Bennett Sings Ellington Hot and Cool. He has also been guest soloist with Gunther Schuller and the American Jazz Orchestra, as well as the Billy Taylor Trio.

Smirnoff was born into an eminent New York musical family. His mother sang with the Jack Teagarden Band under the stage name of Judy Marshall and his father, Zelly Smirnoff, played in the NBC Symphony under Toscanini and was second violinist of the Stuyvesant String Quartet.  Smirnoff was appointed President of CIM in 2008.