Skip to main content

Bienen School Music Students to Compete this Spring

Three admission-free Evanston campus competitions welcome a public audience

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Student vocalists and instrumentalists from Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music will take part in three upcoming annual spring competitions that will be held on the Evanston campus. 

The Bienen School’s admission-free competitions are open to the public and will take place at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive or Lutkin Hall, 700 University Place, as noted.

Bienen School juniors, seniors, master’s and doctoral students are eligible to compete in the Concerto/Aria Competition. Each of the winners will perform as a soloist with a University performance group (symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra or symphonic wind ensemble) during the following school year. 

The annual instrumental competitions in May celebrate late Northwestern faculty members Samuel Thaviu (1909-2000) and Donald Isaak (1927-1996). Thaviu, a violin soloist, chamber musician, conductor and teacher, was a violin professor at Northwestern and a former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. Residents of Highland Park, Ill., he and his wife, Elinor, donated $100,000 to Northwestern for the Thaviu-Isaak Endowed Scholarship Fund for Piano Performance. 

Isaak, who served on the Northwestern piano faculty for 25 years, was active as a soloist, chamber player and vocal accompanist throughout the nation and in Vienna and Edinburgh. He appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras. 


Tickets are not required for the following three admission-free events: 

• The Northwestern Concerto/Aria Competition at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 16, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall will showcase student instrumentalists and vocalists in the final rounds of this year’s solo competition. A five-member external panel will judge the competition. 

• The annual Thaviu-Isaak Endowed Piano Scholarship Competition at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, in Lutkin Hall will feature Northwestern piano students nominated by Bienen School faculty. Bienen School juniors, seniors, master’s and doctoral students are eligible to compete. The scholarship, honoring late professors Thaviu and Isaak, is the Northwestern piano program’s most prestigious honor. 

• The Samuel and Elinor Thaviu Endowed Scholarship Competition in String Performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 13, will bring together Northwestern string students of all grade levels in honor of Thaviu the late violin professor. 

Two Bienen School faculty professors and a guest from Beijing, China will judge the May 12 and 13 competitions. 

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit

Back to top