Music Education

About The Blanche Bryden Institute

The Sunflower Music Festival Summer Institute debuted as an educational and performance experience in 1993 with the participation of 21 budding classical musicians between the age of 16 and 26. 

Original Institute faculty included Charles Stegeman, violin; Janna Lower, violin; Peter Stempe, oboe; Mark Tanner, cello; Bryan Kennedy, brass; James Rivers, piano; and Kirt Saville, High school woodwinds and Institute Director.

The next year, the Institute gained the financial support of the estate of Blanche Bryden, who had been a nontraditional piano student at Washburn University. In recognition of this new commitment, the Institute was renamed The Sunflower Music Festival Blanche Bryden Chamber Music Institute.

In 2008, Charles Stegeman introduced a new international collegiate string quartet institute under the Blanche Bryden Institute’s umbrella. The Russian-born Atrium Quartet from Berlin coached the collegiate string quartet and the high school string divisions. Also in 2008, the high school activities were increased to include both strings and brass every year, mirroring the woodwind component that had existed since the Institute started in 1993.

To date, more than 400 students have been coached by Sunflower musicians and have performed in White Concert Hall under the tutelage of their esteemed mentors.

For High School Students

Blanche Bryden Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Chamber Music for High School Students June 21 – 26, 2021

The Blanche Bryden Summer Institute is a summer camp held on the campus of Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Students will be selected through auditions submitted online to form chamber ensembles: string quartets, woodwind quintets and brass quintets. 

Selected students will:

  • Receive coaching daily by Sunflower Music Festival Orchestra professional musicians & Washburn University faculty coaches
  • Participate in their own master classes, independent study and group rehearsal
  • Observe the Festival orchestra and chamber ensemble rehearsals
  • Perform in outreach events to the community
  • Perform on the Sunflower Music Festival Stage, Saturday, June 26th at 3 p.m. in  White Concert Hall. Reception to follow.
  • There will also be plenty of opportunities to interact with the professional musicians performing  in the Sunflower Music Festival Orchestra.

For College Students

Blanche Bryden Sunflower Music Festival Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Chamber Music Collegiate String Quartets June 21 – 26, 2021

The academy of Collegiate String Quartets of the 2021 Blanche Bryden Institute takes place on the campus of Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Pre-formed collegiate string quartets and trios will be selected based on the fulfillment of the application process including auditions submitted online.

This is an intense week of training for young talented musicians seeking a transition from conservatories and universities to a future professional career. There will also be ample opportunities to interact with the professional musicians performing in the Sunflower Music Festival Orchestra.

While at the Institute, ensembles will be coached by members of the Sunflower Music Festival Orchestra. Students will also attend masterclasses, Sunflower Music Festival orchestra and chamber ensemble rehearsals, and Sunflower Music Festival concerts. Performance opportunities will include outreach recitals in Topeka and the Northeast Kansas communities. The collegiate Institute final concert will be in White Concert Hall on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM, June 26, 2021.

Previous Collegiate String Quartet Performances
Fauré-Piano Quartet No.1 in C Minor, Op.15
Beethoven-String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2
Borodin-String Quartet No. 2

Institute Fees & Tuition

There is no charge for tuition. The Blanche Bryden Foundation has generously provided funding to support all tuition fees for the week-long Institute.

Housing will be provided at one of Washburn University’s residential living buildings. Meals will be catered by Chartwell’s of Washburn University. Special dietary needs will be accommodated.

If your application is accepted, please be prepared to pay a $100 deposit for room and board no later than May 1st. This deposit counts toward the total $400 due. The remaining $300 balance can be paid at any time until the beginning of camp.

Please contact us directly about a commuter rate available for Topeka-area residents.


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