President and Chief Executive Officer
Building on three decades of artistic leadership from coast to coast—the New York
Philharmonic to the Los Angeles Philharmonic—Welz Kauffman dedicated his Ravinia
tenure, which began in 2000, to educational goals. These include the expansion of
audiences for classical music through innovative programming in a uniquely welcoming
setting; diversifying festival repertoire and audiences; exposing new listeners
to great music from all genres, especially youngsters in budget-strapped schools
without music programs; and developing the artistic and performing strengths of
emerging talents from around the world. It’s a philosophy he’s distilled into three
words: “REACH*TEACH* PLAY.”
Both of Kauffman’s parents were professional educators, and he germinated his own
music career as a piano teacher. Education remained a key component of his work
from the J. Paul Getty Trust to several orchestras where he managed education services,
including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; the Atlanta Symphony, where he collaborated
with the legendary vocal conductor Robert Shaw and former President Jimmy Carter;
and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, where he developed community programs with
Hugh Wolff and Bobby McFerrin.
In addition to the more-than-600,000 people who annually attend music events from
concerts to master classes at Ravinia, more than 75,000 Chicago-region residents
benefit from services Ravinia brings to the community under Kauffman’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY
The flagship of Ravinia’s education programs is One Score, One Chicago, which
entices listeners of all levels of understanding of classical music to embrace,
experience and discuss a different masterwork each season, through concerts, school
programs, resource guides and free full-length downloads of the selected work.
Working with the Chicago Public Schools, Ravinia has installed classroom programs,
teacher training and artist residencies in grammar and high schools that did not
have music programs of their own, and Kauffman has established the long-term goal
of reaching all K-3 students in Chicago and the surrounding counties. Ravinia also
runs a free conservatory in Lawndale, where students of all ages can receive applied
music lesson as individuals and as families.
Ravinia’s lauded Jazz Mentors program gives performance opportunities to Chicago’s
brightest young musicians who not only work one-on-one with professional jazz musicians
but then band together as an ensemble that performs throughout the region. In January
2010 the Women’s Board of Ravinia Festival, in conjunction with Ravinia’s professional
education staff and the People’s Music School of Chicago established the creation
of a new student orchestra for children 8 to 12 years old at the William G. Hibbard
Elementary School in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Ravinia also offers applied programs to young professionals through its internationally
recognized Steans Music Institute, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008.
Emerging talents from around the world compete for the coveted slots in this program,
which allows them to study with the artists who frequent the festival—such as Barbara
Cook, George Hearn, Dimitri Hvorostovsky, Thomas Quasthoff, Christoph Eschenbach
and James Conlon—and to hone their performance skills before Ravinia’s discerning
Kauffman continues to work with other professional educators to ensure that the
festival’s programs at Ravinia and in the community fit the educational needs of
the Chicago region.