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Music Institute of Chicago birthday gala raises $1.3 million

The Event: The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago was the place to be on May 12 as the Music Institute of Chicago, the oldest community music school in Illinois and one of three largest in the nation, celebrated its 84th year with a star-studded evening.

More than 430 attendees came to see Oscar and Grammy award-winning composer, conductor and pianist André Previn, receive MIC’s Dushkin Award in recognition of his immense contributions to the art form. And, as a special honor to recognize the Institute’s long-time philanthropic and civic leaders, and all-around cheerleaders, Alexandra and John Nichols of Winnetka were honored with the Cultural Visionary Award.

Cause célèbre: “We are an organization that promotes the idea that all people have musical talent — not just the elite, not just the select few,” said Ralph Neiweem, originally of Northfield, recipient of the inaugural Richard D. Colburn Award for Teaching Excellence. “Everybody’s gifted. That’s what we believe and that’s what we’ve discovered at the Music Institute.”

Founded in 1931, MIC’s mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. MIC offers lessons and classes, creative arts therapy and concerts through its Academy, Community School, Institute for Therapy through the Arts, and the Nichols Concert Hall in locations throughout Evanston, Winnetka, Lincolnshire, Lake Forest, Downers Grove and downtown Chicago.

“It is so important that kids get involved in music at an early age” said Jane Irwin of Winnetka, MIC chairman of the board. Neiweem called music “a gateway to learning.”

And Catherine Daniels of Winnetka, MIC vice chairman, whose daughter Nicole plays the flute at MIC said: “Music is so good for the brain. And for the children who cannot afford it, it is hugely important to make it available.”

Bottom line: The event raised more than $1.13 million dollars for MIC.

Music Institute of Chicago, Central Administration, 517 Green Bay Road, Wilmette. Phone: (847) 905-1500 or see: musicinst.org

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