Summer music institute provides medley of knowledge and experience

The Music Institute at Rhode Island College (MIRIC) describes itself as an “intensive music honors program.” From July 10-16, attendees found themselves immersed – intensively – in the study of music, spending about spent 12 hours a day in band and chorus rehearsals, small ensemble rehearsals, master classes and lessons. They also attended evening recitals performed by faculty members and guest performers.

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MIRIC is open to wind, percussion and voice students entering ninth grade through graduating seniors. Some 107 young musicians – from 35 high schools and five states – participated in this summer’s session, with most rooming at RIC during the weeklong program.

Admission is based on a letter of recommendation from a student’s private music teacher or school ensemble director.

MIRIC began is 2004 with 35 students, and along with a jump in the number of participants, it has also grown in the level of musical performance, making it comparable to any of the honors groups available to high school musicians during the school year, according to Robert Franzblau, RIC director of bands, who leads the institute.

"Our goal for the institute is to help students advance their performance skills in a challenging yet supportive environment, surrounded by other students seeking a similar challenge,” Franzblau said.

RIC professor Teresa Coffman conducts a choral group at the institute.
“Musicians often grow in sudden leaps, rather than in a steady climb, and we design MIRIC to nurture those creative leaps. From the feedback we've received, we're helping students achieve that goal.”

Attendees also learned about music theory and history, including jazz, and enjoyed recreational and cultural events throughout the week.

The institute is staffed by 20 RIC music faculty members and 20 of the college’s music students.

“Recruiting is a part of why we do this,” Franzblau said. Those in the program “get a sense of comfort” with the RIC music program and its faculty, which he described as “some of the finest musicians and teachers in New England.”

The weeklong institute culminated in a public performance by all student ensembles on the stage of Sapinsley Hall in the Nazarian Center. The concert, over two hours long, featured an array of small chamber ensembles along with the chorus and band.

Institute attendees perform under the direction of RIC professor Robert Franzblau.
MIRIC received $16,500 in scholarship funding from four local private foundations – The Carter Family Charitable Trust, the Felicia Fund, the David & Betsey Kilmartin Charitable Foundation and the June Rockwell Levy Foundation – plus support from anonymous donors.

Franzblau noted that funding through private foundations has “made all the difference and allowed MIRIC to flourish.” Approximately half of this year’s students received some level of scholarship, ranging from $50 to full tuition, room and board.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the institute’s operating fund, can do so by visiting the RIC Foundation and designating a donation to MIRIC.