Founded in 1988, the Ravinia Steans Music Institute is an international destination for young professional pianists and string players, classical singers, and jazz musicians devoted to uniquely honing and advancing their talents as collaborative artists. Since opening its doors, RSMI has offered private coaching, master classes, and performance opportunities to over 1,500 exceptional musicians, many of whom have cultivated highly visible and successful careers in performance, leadership, and music education.
"Bridging" the genres of jazz and classical chamber music through new works written for string quartet and jazz trio.
Composition and small ensemble improvisation led by musical luminaries and faculty.
Chamber music, private coaching, and master classes for violinists, violists, cellists, and pianists.
Promoting the human instrument, focusing upon the central repertoire of German and French art song.
The hallmark of RSMI is not only the quality but also the selectivity and immersiveness of its programs. With 15 participants in the Program for Jazz, up to 35 in the Program for Piano & Strings, and 15 in the Program for Singers, fellowships in each program are highly sought after, and each fellow enjoys personalized guidance from the world-class faculty of headlining artists and scholars.
Each of RSMI’s programs is devoted to small-group collaboration. The Program for Jazz comprises quintets playing original music instead of big bands and standards; the Program for Piano & Strings focuses on chamber music as opposed to concertos or orchestral works; and the Program for Singers emphasizes art song rather than opera, oratorio, or chorus. This repertoire is intentionally selected to provide particular musical growth opportunities in an atmosphere where fellows can focus completely on their craft and on the art of making music.
RSMI musicians each receive a fellowship to engage in a life-changing summer of professional studies and performances tuition-free. Fellows are invited to take full advantage of the myriad opportunities during their musical immersion at RSMI, including attending Ravinia concerts, working with the world-renowned faculty, and creating lasting connections with their peers.
“All you have to do is wake up and think about music.”
—Rufus Reid, Co-director, Program for Jazz
RSMI is located on the grounds of the Ravinia Festival in the John D. Harza Building. All performances take place in the purpose-build, 450-seat Bennett Gordon Hall, which has been praised as an acoustical gem by audiences and performers alike.
The Harza Building also holds teaching studios, practice rooms, a robust music library, and an audio/video control room furnished with high-quality equipment for the recording of all events in Bennett Gordon Hall.
All fellows accepted into one of RSMI's programs receive a full fellowship covering all activities, including room and board, meals, and inter-campus transportation.
Ravinia owns several homes within walking distance of the festival grounds, complete with kitchens, washers and dryers, wifi, and pianos. These houses help to establish a residential feeling for our fellows, and provide a greater level of flexibility and independence. All fellows in the Programs for Jazz and Singers, and most of the Program for Piano & Strings, stay in these homes during their time at RSMI.
While acceptance is highly selective—limited to 65 fellows per summer across all programs—RSMI strives to foster a supportive, collegial, non-competitive environment for study and performance. Participants from around the world create a distinctive international community, forming connections that last far beyond their time in the John D. Harza Building. In addition to coachings and performances, fellows enjoy social activities with their colleagues, faculty and alumni; outings to the city of Chicago; and access to Ravinia Festival’s diverse and unique summer concert line up. For many faculty, RSMI is a "home away from home," and a highlight in their musical year.
Applications for RSMI's programs are available seasonally through the online platform Acceptd.
The future of classical and jazz depends on the availability and accessibility of quality, tuition-free professional studies.