Musician mentors Nico Chona, Bobby Everson, Karin Ursin, Jeremy Ruthrauff,
Matt Lee, and Adam Moen alongside their mentees at Benito Juarez Community Academy.
What is AMP?
AMP (Academy of Music Performance) provides young music students with meaningful, repeated interactions with, and mentoring by, Chicago Philharmonic musicians. Musician-mentors provide master classes and side-by-side rehearsals and performances before the student’s fellow students, teachers, and community members.
“I loved how patient and understanding the Chicago Philharmonic musicians were.
They were also very helpful with us learning more about our instrument and how to play.”
– Student from Chicago Bulls College Prep
This year, we are proud to have successfully implemented our AMP program in four schools across Chicago: Victoria Soto High School, Chicago Bulls College Prep, UIC College Prep, and Benito Juarez Community Academy. Our program catered to the orchestra programs at Chicago Bulls and Victoria Soto, as well as the band programs at UIC and Benito Juarez. For each school, we tailored the program to best meet the needs of the school, students, and hardworking staff.
To support these schools, we assigned six Chicago Philharmonic musician mentors to each school, who provided comprehensive lessons, insightful masterclasses, and valuable performance assistance throughout the academic year. In total, we served approximately 80 students, fostering strong connections between our mentors and the students. Our mentors not only focused on enhancing the students’ musical skills but also dedicated themselves to improving their interpersonal abilities such as teamwork, problem-solving, and creative group thinking.
Mentors playing side-by-side with students from
Benito Juarez Community Academy at the May 18 AMP concert.
As a culminating event for each program, our musician mentors joined their students in a side-by-side performance during their final concert. Additionally, the mentors formed a chamber group and treated the school and local community to a brief, captivating performance. Throughout the year, we made sure to provide the students with enriching experiences beyond the classroom, too. They were given free tickets to concerts and invited to attend Chicago Philharmonic rehearsals, allowing them to witness their mentors in action and establish a connection between the music they practiced at school and the broader world of classical performance in Chicago.
While each school program operated with unique dynamics tailored to the specific needs of the students, there were common threads across the board. At Victoria Soto, the focus was on refining string instrument technique, which our mentors reinforced through their chamber group performance of Purcell’s “The Gordian Knot Untied.” At Chicago Bulls, students dedicated their efforts to blending harmoniously within their sections and as an orchestra, supported by their mentors’ performance of Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto.” In both band programs, rhythm, and articulation were emphasized as crucial elements of ensemble playing. To illustrate this, their mentors chose to perform Zequinha De Abreu’s “Tico-Tico no Fubá,” enabling students to witness firsthand how articulation shapes a performance.
Musician mentor Lori Ashikawa with two mentees from Chicago Bulls College Prep.
By nurturing musical talent and fostering a holistic growth mindset, we strive to provide today’s students with a well-rounded musical education that extends beyond technical proficiency. Through AMP, we aim to inspire a love for music, instill important life skills, and create lifelong connections between mentors, students, and the vibrant Chicago classical music community.
Looking forward to our next community engagement initiative? We are, too!
Check out what we’ve got lined up this summer: