Blair Milton, Summer Violin Institute Director
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 25th 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, Mr. Milton was director of the string program for Northwestern’s National High School Music Institute from 1998-2010.
In 2011, he established the Summer Violin Institute, which is held each summer.
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, Mr. Milton also studied with Ivan Galamian and former CSO concertmaster Sidney Harth.
Professor of Violin, Cleveland Institute of Music
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.
Mr. 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 was recently chosen to join the violin faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music beginning in the fall of 2018. He currently serves as Professor of Violin at the DePaul University School of Music (Chicago, IL). Kaler previously held Professor of Violin positions at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) and at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN). Summer teaching and performing engagements include the Chautauqua Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, International Violin Mastercourse at the Keshet Eilon Music Center, Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, amongst others. Kaler is also frequently invited as a judge to the world’s most prestigious violin competitions, including the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Moscow, Russia), Sibelius International Violin Competition (Helsinki, Finland), Henri Marteau International Competition (Germany), as well as the International Music Competition (Harbin, China). 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. Following his formal education, influence and inspiration came from his long-time mentor, violinist and teacher Abram Shtern.
Kaler is a Gold Medal winner at three of the worlds prestigious international violin competitions: the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (1986), the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki (1985), and the Paganini Competition in Genoa (1981)
Mr. 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 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.
Mr. 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.
Violinist I-Hao Lee’s active teaching career has culminated in notable achievements by his students – top prizes at the Queen Elisabeth, Young Concert Artists, Sarasate, Sion-Valais(Tibor Varga), Cooper, Postacchini International Competitions, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and performances with major orchestras such as the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Mariinsky orchestra.Lee has given master classes throughout the U.S., China and Taiwan, and has taught violin and chamber music at Manhattanville College and the Great Mountains Music Festival and School.
Born in Yilan, Taiwan, Lee received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, and his Doctor of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University. His major teachers include Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang.
Currently, Lee is a faculty member at The Juilliard School, DePaul University and the Music Institute of Chicago. He also teaches at the Meadowmount School of Music and the Summer Violin Institute at Northwestern University.
An artist deeply dedicated to the range of violin and chamber music repertoire, violinist Violaine Melançon serves on the violin and chamber music faculties of the Peabody Conservatory, and is Visiting Professor at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. She was for thirty years the founding violinist of the Peabody Trio which was ensemble-in-residence at the Peabody Conservatory from 1987 to 2016. After winning the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1989, the Peabody Trio established itself as an important presence in the chamber music world as vivid interpreters of the classics of the repertoire, advocates for new music, and dedicated teachers and mentors to a generation of young musicians. As a member of the Peabody Trio, Ms. Melançon gave a New York debut in 1990 at Alice Tully Hall and has performed in the most important chamber music series in North America, including New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Denver, Vancouver, Montreal, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Indianapolis, Dallas, Honolulu, Memphis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Portland, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. With them, Ms. Melançon toured internationally, frequently performing in England, making repeat appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall, and in Japan and Israel.
She has a special affection for the music of today and is a serious interpreter of works of Gyorgy Kurtag, Mauricio Kagel and Zhou Long. The Israeli composer Shulamit Ran wrote a violin concerto for her and she has premiered several works by other leading composers. Among the artists with whom she enjoys collaborating are pianists Leon Fleisher, Gilbert Kalish and Peter Frankl, soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, and violist Roger Tapping.During the spring of 2012, she presented the complete works for solo violin by J.S. Bach. She performs recitals annually, exploring unusual gems of the solo and violin-piano duo repertoire. Ms. Melançon is from Québec, Canada. After receiving First Prize in violin at the Conservatoire de Musique, she continued her studies with Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute of Music, with Isadore Tinkleman at the San Francisco Conservatory and with Arthur Grumiaux in Belgium. While at Curtis, she was a member of the Nisaika Quartet, prize winner of the 8th International String Quartet competition in Evian, France. Ms. Melançon is also the recipient of many awards for solo performance including the 1984 Prix d’Europe. In 1983, she formed the Knopp-Melançon Duo, an artistic collaboration which would eventually expand to become the Peabody Trio. In 1987, as a result of having been appointed USIA Artistic Ambassadors, the duo toured abroad extensively and made their Washington, DC debut at the Kennedy Center. Since then, her activities as a chamber musician, soloist with orchestras, and teacher have taken her to major music centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Japan.
She has participated in many summer festivals as violinist, teacher and guest artists, including those of Tanglewood, Ravinia, Skaneateles, Rockport, Orford, and Domaine Forget. She gives yearly masterclasses at the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and teaches regularly at NOI, the National Orchestral Institute and Festival. For many years, she has served on the faculty of Yellow Barn (www.yellowbarn.org), an international gathering of artists who meet each summer to explore the vast riches of the chamber music repertoire. Violaine Melançon’s performances can be heard on the Naxos, Artek, CRI, and New World Records labels.
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, Mr. 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 Brahms. 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. Mr. 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.