Violin alum Christopher Robinson receives 2021 Knights Arts Champion Award

The CCM alumnus is the Founder/Co-Artistic Dir. of VIA Academy, a free summer music program

UC College-Conservatory of Music alumnus Christopher Robinson (BM Violin, ‘15) was recently announced as a 2021 Knights Arts Champion by the Knight Foundation in Miami, Florida. The Foundation selects community leaders who have contributed to the region’s arts and culture scene and awards them $10,000 to direct to a South Florida artist or arts organization of their choice.

Robinson is the Founder/Co-Artistic Director of VIA Academy, a free summer music program for young aspiring musicians from remote and underrepresented communities in classical music. He is also a recent alumnus of the New World Symphony in Miami and currently performs in the second violin section of the Louisville Orchestra.

Christopher Robinson. Photo/ robinsonviolin.com

Founded in June 2020, VIA Academy stemmed from Robinson’s passion as an educator and mentor for young musicians. “Our curriculum offers instrumental skill training and mentorship in future career decisions all within an environment that encourages students to explore the purpose of classical music in culture and community. We also offer several classes on entrepreneurial skills, finding financial support, networking, career pathways, health & wellness, and college preparation,” says Robinson. The project has been able to reach more than 200 students from 37 states, including Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Chile and Serbia.

“VIA Academy was inspired by my combined experiences navigating my own music education while growing up in Kentucky and my time traveling across the country mentoring young aspiring musicians," Robinson adds. "To make a long story short, studying music early on in Kentucky was a challenge and it took me a long time to find the right program that aligned with my future aspirations. Eventually, I found the Starling Program at CCM’s Preparatory Department where I studied with Prof. Kurt Sassmannshaus. It meant a 4-hour round trip commute every Saturday, but it opened up new opportunities for me that I couldn’t experience in my own community.”

Robinson continued his studies with Professor Sassmannshaus during his undergraduate studies at CCM. “He always pushed me to think about how we can shape ourselves as artists and the purpose we have in our communities. While I was an undergraduate student, our conversations eventually led me to launch a chamber music concert series in Cincinnati focused on bringing in younger audiences to classical music concerts,” says Robinson. “I’m incredibly fortunate to still have the support from many of the professors I met during my time at CCM.”

What advice does he have for performers seeking to start initiatives like VIA Academy?

“Not one person can do it all — it takes an army. Especially when starting new initiatives, building a team and collecting as many people around your mission as possible is imperative for success. When starting a new initiative, there will likely be a time when everything feels very daunting. If the initiative has a positive impact on a community and it’s something that you truly believe in, don’t give up. Get on the phone and share your story with anyone who will listen. With time, you’ll build a supportive community that will be there for the long haul.”

For more information on VIA Academy, visit viamusicacademy.org and follow @viamusicacademy on Instagram.

About Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson is a violinist, educator, and the Founder/Co-Artistic Director of VIA Academy, a free summer music program for young aspiring musicians from remote and underrepresented communities in classical music. Christopher has a passion for education while helping students use music for positive change in their communities. A recent alumnus of the New World Symphony, Christopher currently performs in the second violin section of the Louisville Orchestra.

Instagram/Twitter: @robinsonviolin
Website: robinsonviolin.com

Headshot of Jaime Sharp

Jaime Sharp

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Jaime Sharp is a master's student studying Vocal Performance at CCM. She serves as the Vice President of the CCM Graduate Student Association and Student Liaison for the CCM DEI Committee. Jaime holds a bachelor's from the University of Michigan.