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History of the Heifetz Institute



first group of heifetz student in 1996

The Institute is founded by renowned international concert violinist and teacher Daniel Heifetz. During the first year, 20 students attend the six-week summer program held at Glenelg Country School in Howard County, Maryland. Students came from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, and Taiwan. They ranged in age from 16 – 30 and were housed by local host families. During he first year, Mr. Heifetz serves as artistic director, instructor, counselor, and general “jack of all trades.”



heifetz students

Daniel Heifetz develops the Heifetz Performance and Communication Training© system. By combining traditional approaches with innovative instruction in voice, public speaking, drama, and movement. Heifetz introduces a landmark change to the paradigm of music education.



daniel heifetz and students in 1998

With the near-instant success of the Communication Training program, the budding program’s growth in student population leads it to relocate to St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. The faculty is also increased and now offers instruction in violin, viola, and cello.



The Heifetz Institute’s reputation for creativity and teaching excellence continues to grow. The Institute adds piano instruction to its program.



heifetz students perform in 2002

The Institute continues to grow and is invited to move to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. In its first year at Brewster, a record 50 international students attended the six-week program.



heifetz teacher leads a freedom of expression class

The program expands to 60 students, inaugurates a voice/opera program, and adds “Creativity and Improvisation,” as well as “Freedom of Expression” classes to its Communication Curriculum. The Community Outreach Program is also expanded, an integral part of the Institute’s mission since its inception.



The Institute is now attracting the most prominent pedagogues and teaching artists from such major schools as Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the New England Conservatory.



heifetz student performs on the violin

The renown of the violin, viola, and cello students and faculty lures NPR’s From The Top to broadcast on location from the Institute. Daniel Heifetz discontinued the piano and voice program to focus all of the Institute’s energy on its core strength of string instruction. Graduates of the Institute include winners of many competitions, such as the Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition in Moscow, the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition in London, and the Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition in Mexico City. The Institute is also represented in symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles and on school, conservatory, and university faculties throughout the world.



This summer, the sixty-six students represented twenty-two states and thirteen countries, and came from the world’s top conservatories. Virginia Lt. Governor William T. Bolling announces that the City of Staunton will become the new home of the Institute, which will officially become the Heifetz International Music Institute at Mary Baldwin College.



daniel heifetz in 2012

The Heifetz Institute opens its first summer in Staunton, Virginia, with 62 students from 12 countries performing before record audience attendance.



heifetz student performs in 2013

The Institute expands to 74 students, hailing from 20 countries around the globe. Heifetz On Tour, which will grow into a major year-round activity, launches as a week-long pilot program with the Jamestown Arts Center in Rhode Island.



heifetz in 2014

Heifetz On Tour continues to expand with additional partnerships with the Kreeger Museum of Art in Washington, DC, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Cellist Dmitry Volkov became the Institute’s first year-round Virginia Artist In Residence. The summer Institute admits a record 80 students.



exterior of the heifetz gift store and headquarters

With a new leadership team in place, the Institute unveils a flurry of initiatives, including the establishment of a new Community Advisory Council, the introduction of the Ashkenasi/ Kirshbaum Chamber Music Seminar, a revamping of its concert schedule, and a move of its headquarters and new gift shop to East Beverley Street in historic downtown Staunton. The Institute receives its largest-ever grant from the NEA to support its Heifetz On Tour program, and its Shenandoah Scholarship Campaign raises a record $221,000.



heifetz students in 2016

As the Institute becomes formally chartered as a Virginia corporation, Heifetz On Tour expands to a record 8 weeks during the academic year, comprising more than 60 concerts, school appearances, and outreach events. Heifetz Institute and Mary Baldwin College join forces to create HeifetzPEG, an innovative three-week intensive summer program for gifted young string musicians (violin, viola, and cello) between the ages of 8 – 13.



nicholas kitchen

Founder and Artistic Director Daniel Heifetz announces his retirement, and Nicholas Kitchen is named the new Artistic Director. Mr. Kitchen, of the New England Conservatory and founder of the Borromeo String Quartet, is widely considered to be among the finest performers and teachers in the world today.



heifetz baroque in 2019

The first full season under the artistic leadership of Nicholas Kitchen is marked by numerous innovations, including the introduction of an intensive two-week double bass program, and a ten-day Baroque Vocal Workshop for aspiring and emerging professional singers led by David Stern and Dominique Labelle.



heifetz virtual institute in 2020

The Heifetz Institute becomes the first major summer concert music festival to take its program into the digital realm in the wake of the global pandemic. 100 students  are taught by 40 faculty across nine time zones around the globe. The Institute launches Rubato: The Heifetz Virtual Concert Hall as an online version of its traditional summertime Festival of Concerts.  In all the Rubato initiative streams 49 full-length concerts across its YouTube and Facebook Live concerts, as well as its Violin Channel partnership,  consisting of 317 individual performances by students, faculty, and alumni, reach more than 500,000 viewers.