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Music Institute of Chicago expanding in Lake Forest

The Music Institute Chicago is expanding its presence Grove Cultural Campus Lake Forest. | For Sun-Times Media

The Music Institute of Chicago is expanding its presence on the Grove Cultural Campus in Lake Forest. | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 7, 2013 1:15AM

The 83-year-old Music Institute of Chicago is expanding its music learning opportunities in the Northern suburbs and picked Lake Forest as the place to do it.

The nation’s third largest community music school will renovate its current 8,000-square-foot building on the city’s Grove Cultural Campus, 40 East Old Mill Road, Lake Forest, to accommodate students from Highland Park and elsewhere.

The Music Institute will close its Highland Park facility this summer, and those instructors and their students will transition to the Lake Forest center.

“This will allow us to build critical mass of teachers and students and programs and musical excitement,” President and CEO Mark George said.

The additional students will allow for the Music Institute in Lake Forest to offer group opportunities for the first time.

“The Music Institute of Chicago is not just a place where you come and take music lessons, but you come and join a musical community. You play together in chamber, orchestra or a jazz ensemble,” George said. “We really want that to be a major part of the experience of every student.”

Once the transition is complete, Lake Forest will join Winnetka, Evanston and Chicago as the four Music Institute of Chicago hubs that serves more than 3,000 students of all ages.

Each hub will offer a full range of education programming, including private lessons, early childhood education, chamber music, jazz studies, and adult education classes. Satellite facilities in Lincolnshire and Downers Grove will continue to offer lessons and select programming.

Changes to the building, owned by the city of Lake Forest, will include a small expansion of the performance space and sound-proofing.

“We want one area to be acoustically isolated from the next,” George said. “The more you can focus, obviously the better.”

In the next few years, George anticipates replacing windows and making other repairs.

“On the whole, the building is in very good shape, which is one of the reasons why we want to be there,” he said.

Another is the environment the Grove Cultural Campus presents to visitors.

“When you drive on that campus, it takes you into a relaxed environment. It’s surrounded by green and parking is available,” he said.

Highland Park faculty also will honor the legacy of Mortimer Scheff, the director of the former Music Arts School of Highland Park, by recreating the ambiance of his living room, where many musical performances occurred.

In addition to the north suburban changes, the Music Institute has entered into a partnership with Fourth Presbyterian Church to open a campus within the Gratz Center, the church’s new addition on Chestnut Street, just west of North Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.

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