Perfect new home for Music Academy

New home of The Music Academy, Loreen Hall, 226 S. Second St., Rockford, in the heart of Haight Village. (Photo by Frank Schier)

Staff Report

One of Rockford’s most famous institutions of music — The Music Academy of Rockford (formerly the Rockford College Music Academy) — has found a perfect new home, and the Rockford community is invited to view the evolving perfection at Loreen Hall, 226 S. Second St., Rockford, in the heart of Haight Village. The grand opening will be from 3 to 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8.

I hope everyone joins us to see this new vision for The Music Academy,” said the Academy’s executive director, Marti Frantz. “We happily offer access and affordability here. Every child has talent and can learn music. Some work harder than others. We fundamentally have a triangle, made of the school, parent and the child. Music is a basic part of any education. If you learn to work hard and you learn how to learn, that’s how you become a success in anything. It transfers to anything; music is part of a ‘complete’ education.”

The Music Academy is observing its 26th year as a not-for-profit community school of music. It provides comprehensive, high-quality and affordable music education to all who seek it, from those six months of age to adults. Its faculty consists of 30 skilled professional artists as teachers of piano, strings and voice.

The Music Academy relocated from Rockford College to Loreen Hall in July 2011. Loreen Hall is recognized as the oldest church building in Rockford. It is owned by First Lutheran Church, which has a long tradition of music. The church rebuilt the former Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1946 for its church school. The school was named Loreen Hall in honor of the Rev. Albert Loreen, who served First Lutheran Church from 1928 to 1956. Loreen Hall has been used for youth education, Sunday school classes, a choir school, and a Junior Mission Board. Loreen Hall was the first home of Kantorei, The Singing Boys of Rockford.

Prelude — early childhood music education for moms and babies — is held in the Fireside Classroom. (Photo by Frank Schier)

Frantz noted a historical parallel and continuance in the Music Academy’s move — just as the National Guild for Community Arts Education was started by Rockford College alumni and Nobel Prize winner Jane Addams at Hull House, based on Toynbee Hall — the Rockford College Junior Mission Band was also started at Loreen Hall. In a sense, the band has grown into the Academy and returned home.

The building includes 15 private teaching studios/offices in the lower level; eight private teaching studios/offices, an activities room and the Fireside Classroom on the first floor; and a 320-seat auditorium, plus an 82-room choral rehearsal room on the top floor — complete with the original wooden fold-up seats. Because of these features, many have observed this former choir school makes a perfect home for The Music Academy.

The grand opening will feature tours of the building, performances by Music Academy students and light refreshments. A highlight of the event will be a silent auction featuring art, music and travel items.

Every new home needs a little work, and being a tax-deductible, not-for-profit, The Music Academy needs some of your tender loving care and contributions. Please help.

A painting by Nancie King Mertz of Music Academy students performing this summer at the Grand Canyon will be featured in the silent auction, along with a week’s stay in a private home in Kauai, Hawaii.

Other auction items include photography by Dr. Paul Burkholder, pottery by Robert Sunday, a wood sculpture by Roger Benedict, a wood bowl by Gordie Johnson as well as signed CDs from well-known classical artists.

In honor of The Music Academy’s grand opening, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey will proclaim the week of Oct. 3 as The Music Academy Week.

History, a new place and partnerships

Founded in 1974 by the late Eleanor Stanlis, The Music Academy is a not-for-profit school of music offering music education for students of all ages. It provides high quality, affordable instruction and performing opportunities to Academy students regardless of age or ability. As noted, its faculty consists of 30 world-class teachers providing instruction to 1,100 students, including every child enrolled in a City of Rockford Head Start Preschool.

Begun as private lessons in Stanlis’ home as one of the first Suzuki Method programs in the country, enough students gathered to begin group lessons at the Academy, with the assistance of two other private instructors Jim Fry (a former student of Stanlis’) and cello-player Frantz. Space for the group lessons was rented from Second Congregational Church. After a few years, a proposal was made to Rockford College, and a year later, they were told they could begin in September. Their response to the college was that another year was needed for planning.

The Music Academy formally affiliated with Rockford College in 1985. The successful partnership cemented The Music Academy’s reputation of providing exceptional music instruction to the community. However, both organizations have decided to focus on their individual goals for the future. Now, The Music Academy is an autonomous organization, with its own board to oversee its operations.

Jim Epperson, The Music Academy Foundation Board president, said: “We have been most grateful for the affiliation we’ve had with Rockford College for the past 26 years. It has been a mutually beneficial arrangement. We look forward to the future and being able to focus on growth for The Music Academy.”

Rockford College President Dr. Robert Head added, “The Music Academy has been an integral part of Rockford College, and although the structure of our relationship is changing, we will continue to be a strong advocate of the Academy and the outstanding tradition of music instruction it provides for our community.”

The 12,000 square feet of Loreen Hall, with its three floors, will accommodate The Music Academy’s need for studio, classroom, office and performance space. Loreen Hall is in residential and historic Haight Village.

We are excited about our move and new partnership with First Lutheran Church, a strong supporter of music in our community,” Epperson said.

Frantz added: “So many community opportunities exist for partnership in our conference/performance space. We are very excited by the visits we’ve had from our central city neighbors and representatives of Kantorei, the RAMIs, YouthBuild, and Charlotte’s Web. We’re very happy to be downtown in this quaint historic neighborhood. We’ve been encouraging our parents to explore our new neighborhood, too.”

She said she and her husband Lyle personally enjoy exploring the nearby downtown shops and restaurants.

Frantz also stressed she has great thanks to give for all the people who have assisted with The Music Academy’s move, particularly: Sheryl Almquist Interior Design, Awana Clubs International, Phil Blair, Cad Cam Systems, Carpet Mill Outlet USA, Christofferson Moving & Storage, Daphne Cooper, Jacqueline Delahanty, Liz Dickinson, Jim Epperson, Richard Evans, faculty and staff of The Music Academy, members of First Lutheran Church’s Council and their staff and congregation, Lyle Frantz, Greater Rockford Music Teachers Association, Steve Hale, Kevin Hale , Krista Hale, Wesley Hale, C. Darlene Handlin, Rachel Handlin and Mike Beert, Saman Hanif, the Harding Family, Harris Bank, Colleen Holmbeck, Holmstrom & Kennedy, P.C., the Steve Jackson Family, Tom Johnson, Russ Koester, Christy Lenox, the Erik Lewinski Family, Al Mezny, Pat Michaelsen and Eric Dean, The Music Academy Foundation, Barbara Pittman, Bruce Ross Shannon, Reiko Speich, Rockford Area Arts Council, the family and friends of Dr. Peter Stanlis, the family and friends of William Sterling, Steve Stromberg, Sandy Welte, Steve and Janice Westlund, Andrew Willette and William Zartman

Get Inspired! Visit:

You will find suggestions of many fun things for parents and kids. The Music Academy began to advertise at this site this spring. The Academy welcomes any feedback about their ads or the site. If you’d like to blog about your experiences at Music Academy, there is an opportunity available.

Call (815) 986-0037 or visit for more details.

2010/2011 Staff

Martha Frantz — Director

Candy Glidden — Piano Program Director

Rachel Handlin — String Program Director

Robin Kenney — Registrar & Business Manager

Stephanie Pedretti — Flute Program Director

2010/2011 Faculty

Mary Ann Anderson — violin

Marilyn Cade — piano

Cindy Doering — violin

Richard Evans — cello

Rachel Handlin — violin

Patricia Jeske — piano

Mary Kuchenmeister — violin

Candy Lovan — piano, early childhood

Kerena Moeller — cello

Janel Nelson — piano

Kristen Nelson — piano

Stephanie Pedretti — flute

Anne Olson — piano

Jacques Saint-Cyr — flute

Jung-ah Sombke — theory and early childhood

Eric Schroeder — guitar

Nobuaki “Aki” Tanaka — violin

Amber Veigel — piano

Eric Walker — voice

Hui Wang — viola and violin

Vicki Williquette — piano

Tarrah Wolf — piano, early childhood

2010/2011 Music Academy Foundation Board

Lynne Andreini, Richard Baker, Suzanne Benham, Phil Blair, Liz Dickinson, Kathy Dierstein, Rita Elliott, Alice Enichen, Jim Epperson – Chairman, Martha Frantz, Gerrie Gustafson, Rachel Handlin, Paula Harkness, Robin Kenney, Christy Lenox, Alexander Mezny, Barbara Pittman, Keara Roethke, Sandra Welte and Bill Zattman.

2010/2011 Suzuki Board

Nancy Brandon – Treasurer, Hope Collins – Co-President, Henry Doll, Jane Gottlick, Valerie Grable, Bonni Gullak – Co-President, Kate Harper, Debbie Hurt, Dina Johnson, Kristin Oakley – Secretary and Rose Willette.

Editor’s note: As a long-time admirer and personal beneficiary of The Music Academy’s wonderful adults and children’s characters and musical performances, hearty recommendations must be made to help support this now-reborn institution. The Music Academy has a national and international reputation, with its award-winning students attaining placement in the most prestigious schools and ensembles. In contrast to a variety of very negative national press, The Music Academy provides Rockford with a very good reputation and provides an arts-based curriculum so sadly missing in our public schools — with scholarship opportunities for all. Be very proud of The Music Academy, and please support it in any way you can. Every little bit really does help. Don’t miss this open house, this Saturday, Oct. 8. You’ll love seeing this charming building (it’s really cool), and enjoying the quality and music that lifts all souls. With the very best wishes for the amazing Marti Frantz, Rachel Handlin and Robin Kenney, and with great love and respect for the memory and gifts of Eleanor and Dr. Peter J. Stanlis, I really hope everyone pitches in for just the right key for the future of OUR Music Academy. Sincerely, Frank Schier.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2011, issue

One thought on “Perfect new home for Music Academy

  • Oct 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Support this institution because it teaches children about music, not because Frank Schier endorses it. Mr. Schier knows nothing about nothing.

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