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Celebrating a Legacy: Thomas Wermuth Retirement

After an illustrious 32 year career, Thomas Wermuth will retire from the faculty at the Western Springs School of Talent Education. He will be moving with his life partner, Nick Ginandes, to Golden, Colorado where they will enjoy spending time with his daughter, Allegra Wermuth and granddaughter, Satya. Mr. Wermuth will continue to teach the violin and offer teacher training for the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

The Western Springs School of Talent Education began in 1980 when founder Edward Kreitman started teaching in the West suburbs of Chicago. Nine years later, Thomas Wermuth left his position as the principal violist of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and faculty member at the Guelph Suzuki School to join the faculty at WSSTE as the artist in residence faculty member.

For several summers in the 1990s, Mr. Wermuth was a member of the violin faculty at the Weathersfield Music Festival in Weathersfield, Vermont where he taught alongside world renowned string pedagogues Almita and Roland Vamos.

In 2002, Mr. Wermuth, along with his daughter Allegra, created the Preludio Music Festival in Ithaca, New York. This summer music program was designed by Tom and Allegra as a three week intense camp where students had the opportunity to work on Concerto repertoire, technique, Paganini Caprices and works by Fritz Kreisler.

Throughout his time at WSSTE, Mr. Wermuth’s students have won numerous competitions in the Chicago area and beyond including the Walgreens, Confucius DuPage Symphony, West Suburban Symphony, Chinese Fine Arts Society, Society of American Musicians and the concerto competitions of the West Suburban Symphony,

Elmhurst Symphony, DuPage Symphony, Skokie Symphony, and South Suburban Symphony. As prize winners, they have performed with these orchestras. Mr. Wermuth’s students also regularly appear on the Skokie Library Young Artists Recital Series.

Mr. Wermuth’s students have gone on to study at the country’s leading conservatories including the The Curtiss Institute of Music, The Colburn School, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory, Indiana University School of Music, Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, University of Michigan School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the University of Southern California.

In 1990 Mr. Wermuth was named as a Registered Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas. As such, he has specialized in offering the upper level Suzuki books and is especially well known for teaching the Mozart Violin Concerto Course.

In addition to his private teaching, Mr. Wermuth also was the Musical Director for the Chicago Consort. The Chicago Consort is one of America’s premier student performance ensembles.

The Chicago Consort has appeared on the International Ensembles Concert at the Biennial Conference of the Suzuki Association of the Americas 6 times. More than any other ensemble in the country.

The Chicago Consort has toured Internationally approximately every two years:

Atlanta/Puerto Rico




Great Britain/Vienna








In 2007 Mr. Wermuth was awarded the U.S. Department of Education Presidential Scholars Program Teacher Award by Presidential Scholar Benjamin Beilman.

Mr. Wermuth received the 2011 Studio Teacher of the Year Award from the Illinois Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.

Thomas Wermuth began his musical studies in Louisville, KY where he was a student of Ruth French. (a former student of Ivan Galamian). He performed at the Aspen Music Festival the summer after graduation from High School, and continued his musical training with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy Delay at the Juilliard School in New York City.

During his time at Juilliard, he performed in the Spoleto Festival in Italy twice and toured with the Canadian Opera Company before joining the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Mr. Wermuth is also a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. His unique approach and energetic perspective has made Mr. Wermuth a much more compassionate and understanding teacher, and a mentor to many students particularly throughout their challenging teenage years.

After the passing of his parents, Mr. Wermuth established the Lawrence and Betty Wermuth Memorial Scholarship. Each year, the violin faculty from the school chooses a student to receive this honor. It includes a small honorarium to be used at a summer music festival.

Mr. Wermuth will be succeeded at the school by his protege, Patrick Connolly. Patrick Connolly started his music studies at age three with his mother, Denise Connolly. Patrick joined the studio of Edward Kreitman at age five and continued to study at WSSTE performing in both Allegro!!! and the Chicago Consort. Mr. Connolly was a student of Thomas Wermuth for six years. After graduation from WSSTE, he studied with Brian Lewis at the University of Texas at Austin, earning a Bachelor of Music and completed his masters in violin performance with Almita Vamos at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

We are so grateful for all that Mr. Wermuth has brought to our school. His talent, his humor, his enthusiasm for learning and his standard of excellence have helped to make WSSTE what it is today. We wish him only the best as he moves on to the next chapter.

The Prequel to Tom Wermuth’s History with the WSSTE

by Sally Gross

Prior to joining the WSSTE faculty as the artist in residence in 1989, Thomas Wermuth was an active part of the Guelph/Kitchener/Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) musical community for many years.

After studying at the Juilliard School in 1973, Mr. Wermuth accepted a position with the Canadian Opera Company never anticipating that he would remain in Canada for many years. A few years later he became the Assistant Concertmaster with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony prior to becoming Principal Violist. The KWS was and remains, a tight-knit family of musicians and Mr. Wermuth is still in close contact with many of the members, especially his good friend Martha Kalyniak.

In addition to playing in the Symphony, Mr. Wermuth began teaching with the Suzuki String School of Guelph (1975-1987). The school’s director, Daphne Hughes was one of the pioneers of the Suzuki movement in Canada and had recently founded the Suzuki String School of Guelph in 1972. She thought that the Suzuki community would be a good fit for him, and she was correct. Mr. Wermuth did his Suzuki training with Kay Collier Slone (McLaughlin) at the University of Louisville in the late 70’s.

Sally Gross joined the school as Cello Director in 1981 and enjoyed their collaboration as colleagues. Mr. Wermuth was even a co-Institute Director of the first Guelph Suzuki String Institute (now the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute) in 1983. By this time, Mr. Wermuth was highly sought after as a guest clinician throughout Canada and the US.

Upon leaving the Guelph school, he continued to teach in the Kitchener-Waterloo area until leaving for the Chicago suburbs in 1989 at the invitation of Edward Kreitman.

During his years of teaching in the Guelph/Kitchener/Waterloo area, Mr. Wermuth worked with many young musicians who to this day see him as one of the most influential people in their lives. The list is long, but no less indebted to him than his WSSTE students.

So in addition to Mr. Wermuth’s illustrious teaching career of 32 years at the WSSTE, add an additional 14 years of teaching in Canada for a total of 46 years of commitment to building the next generation of not only wonderful musicians and teachers, but fine human beings who all adore him. They all wish him the best as he starts the next journey of his life in Colorado.

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