November 5, 2021

CIM Students, Faculty Hit the Road for a Chamber Music Tour

Chamber tour cohort
Left to right: Interim Admissions Director Rachel Kunce; Quartet members Emera Gurath, Cecelia Swanson, Marcus Stevenson and Megan Lin; President Paul W. Hogle; and Chamber Music Program Director Si-Yan Darren Li

Grand prize winners of the 7th Annual Coltman Chamber Music Competition, the Elless Quartet, and CIM’s Artistic Director of String Chamber Music Philip Setzer and Program Director Si-Yan Darren Li went on tour October 29-31 to talk with young artists from the Music Institute of Chicago, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative, Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Civic Youth Ensemble Program, and Interlochen Arts Academy. The quartet, comprised of violinists Megan Lin and Emera Gurath, violist Marcus Stevenson and cellist Cecelia Swanson, along with Setzer and Li, hosted master classes and arranged exclusive performances.

“I learned a lot while coaching the groups during the master classes in Detroit and Interlochen,” said Gurath. “It was a lot of fun to be on the teaching side of a master class and, as always, I learned more about my own playing while I was teaching.”

Throughout the tour, the quartet and Interim Director of Admissions Rachel Kunce met with young artists to talk about what it takes to pursue classical music in college and as a career, and what it’s like to study chamber music at CIM.

“I felt honored to represent CIM, and as a group, we were all genuinely excited to show people outside of Cleveland how great the chamber music program is,” explained Swanson. “The program at CIM has greatly influenced who I am as a person and musician.”

CIM students, faculty and staff captured some of their most favorite moments while on the road.

First stop, Evanston, IL:

Paul, students and Almita Vamos

Violinist and pedagogue Almita Vamos, who serves on the faculty at Music Institute of Chicago and Roosevelt University, invites CIM President and CEO Paul W. Hogle, Setzer, Li and Kunce to her home to exchange stories and learn more about her legacy of students.​

Chamber faculty teach master class for Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative

Li and Setzer work with the Sprezzatura Quartet from the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative, which provides robust training for talented students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in the Chicago area.

CIM faculty and students meet with Mark George

The Elless Quartet put on a concert in Nichols Concert Hall, home to the Music Institute of Chicago, performing music by Joseph Haydn, Leoš Janáček, Felix Mendelssohn and Jessie Montgomery. The group also met with Music Institute of Chicago's President and CEO Mark George, who is a CIM alumnus.

The group then journeyed to Michigan for the second half of the tour:

Emera Gurath of the Elless Quartet works with a violinist

Gurath works with an aspiring violinist in Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Civic Youth Ensemble Program.

CIM community talks about pursuing classical music

With students at Interlochen Arts Academy, the Elless Quartet discusses pursuing a career in classical music and how CIM has shaped their journey.

The quartet coached young chamber groups at Interlochen and in Detroit: "This was my first time coaching younger students," explained quartet member Megan Lin. "It was a learning experience for me and the group."

Though the tour offered young artists in Illinois and Michigan an exciting opportunity to learn from great minds at CIM, it was also a growing experience for the quartet.

“There are many opportunities to perform at CIM and in the surrounding communities in Cleveland, but this was a unique opportunity to take the show on the road to new states and communities,” said Gurath. “The tour gave me a taste of what a professional life in a quartet could look like. It meant a lot that CIM trusted us to represent the school.”

Want to learn more about string chamber music at CIM? Li, Setzer and President Hogle talk about what's in store for the program.