Integrating community service with rigorous orchestral and chamber music training, Credo invites young musicians to take part in its 2024 National Festival this summer at Symphony Center, Chicago


Photo: Grittani Creative

Rachel Barton Pine (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola), and Peter Slowik (conducting) perform Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante at the Credo Festival Gala 20th Anniversary Concert in 2019 at Symphony Center, Chicago

A quarter of a century ago, a man had a dream. Not just any man, not just any dream. Peter Slowik, a musical force of nature, renowned violist and pedagogue, dreamt of a musical cosmos of musicianaries, musicians with a mission: ’top-trained classical musicians who not only believe in the power of their music, but understand that a key part of musical identity is giving to others.’ Born on the idyllic campus of Oberlin Conservatory, Credo set forth to develop ’citizen musicians.’ Its tripartite motto Develop the Gift • Acknowledge the Source • Respond in Service has inspired a variety of programmes, most notably its widely-acclaimed summer Credo National Festival. 

With its integration of community service into a rigorous chamber music training programme, Credo’s summer programme set a new standard for musical training centres. As Slowik notes, ’to exert transformative power, to get to that place where a musician can truly give to others, many stairs have to be climbed, many doors have to be unlocked.’ 


In the ’Respond’ part of the Credo mission, students engage in a variety of projects that range from serving at food banks and homeless shelters to playing at hospice centres and prisons

Credo has created a legion of highly accomplished alumni who realise that every hour spent in service is not an hour taken away from the practice room, but rather is an hour of true enrichment, passing on their message of achievement and hope to new generations. Credo graduates have taken their places among the best and brightest in leading orchestras across the globe, and are mentoring future generations at major centres of higher learning. 

To celebrate 25 years of musical renewal, the Credo National Festival 2024 (14 to 20 July) offers two unique opportunities for musician participation: 

The Mahler Project reaches out to accomplished musicians at the cusp of significant musical careers. Under the baton of Maestro David Chan, young pre-professional musicians will play side-by-side with titled players from leading orchestras – benefitting by listening and performing simultaneously.

’I am truly honored to join Credo’s well-established musical excellence, and to help usher in the next chapter of Credo’s journey, surrounded by an outstanding faculty that is second to none,’ says Chan. The week culminates in a performance of Mahler’s First Symphony at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. 

The String Intensive programme is geared to younger musicians (12 to 19) whose intensive week will combine chamber music, masterclasses and a final performance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. 


Photo: Grittani Creative

Chamber music afficionados can stay tuned for the Credo Oberlin String Quartet Institute. Three quartets ranging from the young and promising to prize-winning pre-professional will receive full scholarships for coaching by luminaries from the string quartet world (24 to 29 June 2024). 

For those who might believe that life starts at 25, Credo might just prove that point. The intimacy of the Credo experience has led to lifelong connections, discoveries that prove that the process of giving through music leads to inner triumphs that define meaningful careers. To quote Cleveland Orchestra violist Will Bender, ’I cannot overemphasise the importance of Credo in my musical life. Credo showed me the incredible beauty of playing the greatest music with other passionate musicians. Credo’s emphasis on serving the community through music was life-changing.’ 

Application deadline for the Credo National Festival Mahler Project is 5 March 2024. Find out more at