History of the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute

 

The first Intermountain Suzuki Institute, sponsored by SAU, was held in 1978 at the University of Utah. Two guest clinicians, local teachers and over 80 students in violin, piano, cello, flute, and viola attended. In contrast, this year we have over 80 just on the faculty and staff, over 150 teachers training in workshops, and over 750 students at the String Institute alone.

After the first year, the Institute moved to Weber College until 1981, when it moved to Utah State University. It stayed there for ten years. It grew to be the 2nd largest institute in the United States, surpassed only by Stevens Point, Wisconsin. All Suzuki instruments were offered, with guitar, harp, and voice pioneered at our Institute. Student enrollment was over 1,000 during the final years of the combined Institute. Cleo Brimhall founded the Institute and directed it until 1989.

Karen Redd then took the helm, assisted by Ramona Stirling as string director in 1989 and 1990. In 1990 the Advanced String Camp was added, as many of our students had graduated from Book 8 and yet were only 11 or 12 years old. Thirty-three students attended the Advanced String Camp that first year, and Brian Lewis at age 21 was the first young guest artist to have a recital at the Camp.

1991 to 1994 were years of transition. In 1991 Marche Altom became director, again assisted by Ramona Stirling. Institute moved to Southern Utah University in Cedar City for a year and then to Dixie College in St. George. While those were grand years, with all instruments together, it became apparent that the tremendous growth in the Suzuki movement in Utah had caused the institute to outgrow any possible facility in the state of Utah. We took a year off in 1993, when only the Advanced String Camp was held in Salt Lake City.

In 1994 the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute separated from the other instruments to accommodate the need for space that both groups needed. Ramona Stirling became the director, with Barbara Gowans as administrator. Institute was held in St. George that year.

In 1995 we moved again to Salt Lake, where the Institute has remained until now. Two years were spent at the Salt Lake Community College, and then ten years at Jordan High School. Trina Christensen became the Assistant Director in 2005. In 2007 we moved to the beautiful campus of Juan Diego Catholic School where we plan to stay.

The Intermountain Suzuki String Institute and Advanced String Camp are renowned for the extremely high level of students that attend, allowing us to attract a prestigious and highly qualified faculty.