In 2012, the Heifetz International Music Institute’s elite summer program for students of violin, viola and cello will move to the Mary Baldwin campus, bringing with it not only beautiful music but the promise of additional cultural and economic development.
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling traveled to Staunton Monday to deliver the news at an event held in front of the Administration Building.
“We are pleased that Heifetz International Music Institute has chosen Virginia as its new home, bringing with it needed jobs and opportunity for Staunton and the surrounding area,” Bolling said. “In addition to a positive economic impact, the Heifetz Institute will generate a positive cultural impact on the community as a result of their longstanding commitment to scholarship and the arts. As such, they make a well-suited partner for Mary Baldwin College, Staunton and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Since its founding in 1996, the non-profit Heifetz Institute has been dedicated to the artistic growth and career development of some of the world’s most talented and promising classical musicians, some as young as 13. The Institute is founded on the revolutionary educational concept that young musicians can be taught to communicate the emotion of music, beyond mere technical agility and beautiful playing.
Mary Baldwin has a rich history of nurturing the arts, reaching back to 1871 when it became home to one of the first music conservatories in the south. More recently, late theatre professor Fletcher Collins Jr. helped to shape the performing arts scene so many enjoy in Staunton today.
“I’m proud to see Mary Baldwin strengthen its long commitment to the performing arts,” said Pamela Fox, herself a classically trained pianist and music scholar. “Teaming up with this prestigious organization guarantees lively activity on campus in an otherwise quiet season, will boost the college’s profile, and promises to add another jewel to the city’s cultural crown. It’s a perfect fit for our campus and for Staunton.”
MBC, which had been looking for a summer programming partner, shares the Heifetz Institute’s commitment to leadership and international scholarship and a track record of educating bright, young students. With its rich history of excellence in the arts and commitment to community service, Mary Baldwin proved to be an attractive option for Heifetz administrators, who hope to build upon their own growing interest in community outreach.
Institute founder Daniel Heifetz knew immediately on his first visit that Staunton and Mary Baldwin was the perfect new home for his summer program. His trip ended with a call to the President of the Institute’s Board of Directors and these words: “You need to meet me in Staunton. I think you’re going to discover our new home.”
“From the moment I arrived, I was impressed,” Heifetz said, “and the ‘fit’ kept getting better: the vibrant arts community, the Blackfriars Playhouse, the architecture on campus, the architectural beauty of the city, the leadership program (Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership) and the enthusiasm of the MBC personnel that I met.”
The Heifetz International Music Institute at Mary Baldwin College will join Staunton’s Red Brick District — the city’s arts and culture hub — which includes American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, CoART Gallery, Staunton Performing Arts Center, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, Historic Staunton Foundation, Sunspots Studios, Staunton Music Festival, ShenanArts and more.
Each week from July 1 to Aug. 10, 2012, the Institute will offer, free to the public, Monday and Wednesday “Stars of Tomorrow” concerts in MBC’s Francis Auditorium. On Thursday evenings the institute will bring Carnegie Hall to Virginia with its “Celebrity Series” concerts at the Blackfriars Playhouse, with ticket prices starting at just $10.
“It is important the Institute not only bring the finest musicians in the world to Staunton, but also have a positive economic impact,” said Heifetz Institute Executive Director Justin Reiter. “We will provide opportunities for seasonal employment and will rent properties for faculty housing as well as using hotels and B&Bs for our board of directors and audience members. This is a win-win for the institute, Mary Baldwin, Staunton and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.”
In its new home at Mary Baldwin College, the institute will have complete artistic control and manage all administrative operations, including selection of students and faculty and the awarding of scholarships.
- Nowak Crosier