Alexandra Nichols is passionate about music, though she freely admits that she’s not particularly musically talented. But her passion extends to her position as Chair of the Board at the Music Institute of Chicago.
“It’s such a joyful place,” she says, talking about walking through the halls of the Music Institute and listening to students practicing. “This wonderful institution awards more than $500,000 in scholarships for students each year.” Nichols smiles happily as she discusses all the projects and campaigns she and her husband, John D. Nichols, have worked on over the years.
Nichols’ passions have guided her choices in philanthropy. The common theme is art. From the Renzo Piano-designed Nichols Bridgeway, which links the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago and Millenium Park, to the Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston which seats 500 in its acoustically perfect auditorium, Nichols has sought to enrich the arts and bring art to more people.
Beyond the Music Institute, she serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and is on the Board of Trustees for WTTW-Channel 11 in Chicago.
When the topic turned to success, she brushed the notion away.
“I don’t think of myself in those terms,” she says. “I’m just someone who is dedicated to causes and willing to see them through.”
What’s next for Nichols? Her new goal is to increase the visibility of the Music Institute in the suburbs and Chicago. They currently have six suburban campuses and partnerships in the city, which allow the talented faculty to teach students of all ages and abilities. But so many students whose lives could be transformed by music remain out of reach.
Looking at Nichols’ track record of hard work and success, it’s quite easy to envision more students making glorious music soon.