Chicago Theological Seminary may house Hyde Park Suzuki Institute

Hyde Park Suzuki Institute founder and Executive Director Lucinda Ali-Landing poses outside the Chicago Theological Seminary building, 1407 E. 60th St., Monday morning. Marc Monaghan

Hyde Park Suzuki Institute founder and Executive Director Lucinda Ali-Landing poses outside the Chicago Theological Seminary building, 1407 E. 60th St., Monday morning.

-Marc Monaghan

By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

The head of one of Hyde Park’s most popular music programs found new digs for the school after losing their current location.

The Hyde Park Suzuki Institute Capital Campaign Kick off Concert to cover the cost of its relocation to the Chicago Theological Seminary in the fall. The event will feature Members of 70’s Funk Band SLAVE and Capt. Sky, 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2.

After learning in January that its contract would not be renewed at Augustana Lutheran Church in Hyde Park, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave., Hyde Park Suzuki Institute (HPSI) founder and director Lucinda Ali-Landing and the institute’s board members searched for a new location. Determined to stay in Hyde Park, the institute has found the ideal space at Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), 1407 E. 60th St. The school is seeking community help to raise $300,000 for its relocation expenses and to build out its new space.

When the school began its search Ali-Landing said the ideal space would be in Hyde Park and have 3,000 square feet so the institute could tailor the space to its needs, which include soundproofing the rooms, space to store equipment and the ability to keep the piano room at a certain temperature. She said the space at CTS exceeds the institute’s expectations.

“We now have an opportunity to design up to 6,000 square feet … in a new building that has among its amenities a beautiful concert hall with a Steinway grand piano and reception and lobby areas,” Ali-Landing said. “With this expanded space we can serve more students.”

She said expansion plans include 10 private studio spaces, two large group class spaces, a conference room, a children’s playroom and administrative space. CTS already has family bathrooms, ADA-compliant access and building security.

“In our new long-term location inside the beautiful Chicago Theological Seminary… we can continue to provide high-quality musical instruction and performance opportunities to more than 150 children in Hyde Park,” Ali-Landing said.

She said the institute is hoping to garner support from corporate and community donors to raise $215,000 of the $300,000 as soon as possible so the school can, “pay for the build out upfront without needing to finance.”

She said if the build out date begins on Aug. 1 as planned it would ensure a seamless transition and HPSI can resume its fall term on Sept. 15.

Ali-Landing has been teaching music to children in Hyde Park since 1998 using the Suzuki method. The Suzuki method is a child-centered musical pedagogy in which children begin to learn an instrument as young as 3 years old. Over the years her school has grown from 16 students and one teacher to 150 students and 14 teachers and has resided in several different churches in the neighborhood.

Ali-Landing, who has been studying the violin since the age of six, said she identified Hyde Park as the home for the school because it is a diverse community that organically subscribed to one of the disciplines of the Suzuki method, which is that “all children have the talent to learn if they are taught well by loving parents and teachers.”

HPSI has a diverse make up: 30 percent of the parents are affiliated with the University of Chicago, and the other 70 percent come from the surrounding neighborhoods of Woodlawn, South Shore, Chatham, Englewood, Bronzeville, Kenwood and other South Side communities. Ali-Landing said the student population is 46 African American, 25 percent white, 16 percent Asian American, 4 percent Latino, and 9 percent multi-racial families.

“We don’t just have fun and musical games,” Ali-Landing said. “We intentionally nurture and develop skills in children to a professional level that are marketable, valuable and useful as adults.”

This year’s HPSI graduating seniors, who began their instruction with HPSI 13 years ago, have been accepted to Princeton University in New Jersey, University of Illinois, Pomona College in California, Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and The Juilliard School in New York.

The concert will take place at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., Tickets are, for general admission, $25; for VIP tickets, $75 — which include priority seating and pre-concert reception. Tickets may be purchased at the Logan Center Box office or the HPSI office at 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave.

To make a donation to HPSI, call 773-643-1388, e-mail Lucinda Ali-Landing at lucindaali@hydeparksuzuki.org or visit hydeparksuzuki.org.

d.phillips@hpherald.com