See our video for some highlights ISSI history from recent years!

 Now Playing Utah


 ISSI Board Members:

Derek Brown

Kirk Cullimore, chair

Dominica Cutler

Kandace Dato

Julie Hansen

Renae McKell

Neylan McBaine

Ramona Stirling

ISSI Staff:

Dr. Lauren Posey, Executive Director

Tabitha Ricks, Registrar/Grant Writer/Chamber Music Assistant

Leslie Thackeray, Teacher Training Coordinator


ISSI History – The First Years

Our history began when Cleo Brimhall founded the first Intermountain Suzuki Institute. In 1978 Suzuki Association of Utah (SAU) sponsored the first institute held at the University of Utah where two guest clinicians, local teachers and over 80 students in violin, piano, cello, flute, and viola attended. The following year, the Institute moved to its new home at Weber College until 1981. Thereafter, it moved to Utah State University where it would remain for 10 years.

Before long, ISSI grew to be the second largest institute in the United States, second only to Stevens Point, WI in terms of size. By then, all available Suzuki instrument courses existed at ISSI.  With the relatively recent additions of guitar, harp, and voice to Suzuki Method, ISSI has not been far behind in its adoption of these programs. Interest in ISSI has only grown year over year. Amazingly, student enrollment grew to such a staggering amount (1,000+) during the final years that a split among instruments became necessary. 

A Decade Later

Cleo Brimhall directed the institute until 1989 when Karen Redd took the helm. During this time, Ramona Stirling assisted as the string director. Despite the changes in leadership, ISSI remained just as adaptable as ever. For example, it was observed that many of our students graduated from Book 8 despite being very young for such a feat (11 or 12 years old). Therefore, in 1990 the institute added the Advanced String Camp. In the first year, 33 students attended the Advanced String Camp. Brian Lewis was the first young guest artist to have a recital at the Advanced String Camp at age 21.

ISSI saw immense changes in the early 1990’s. In 1991 Marche Altom became director while Ramona Stirling continued to assist as the string director. The Institute moved to Southern Utah University in Cedar City, UT for a year and then to Dixie College in St. George, UT. These were grand times with every Suzuki instrument combined for Institute occasions. However, it became apparent that the tremendous growth of the Suzuki movement in Utah had caused the institute to outgrow any available venue in the state.

In 1994 Suzuki piano and harp separated from ISSI to accommodate for space needed and allow growth among all entities. Ramona Stirling became the director and Barbara Gowans acted as administrator. That same year, the first official Intermountain Suzuki String Institute took place in St. George.

Almost 20 Years of ISSI History

In 1995 the Institute returned to Salt Lake City, UT, where it still remains to this day. ISSI was held for two years at the Salt Lake Community College and the following 10 years Jordan High School hosted the Institute. In 2007 ISSI moved to its current home venue at the beautiful campus of Juan Diego Catholic School.

Where We Are Now

The Intermountain Suzuki String Institute is renowned for the high level of students who attend, allowing us to attract a prestigious and highly qualified faculty. In short, the Institute has a reputation for excellence because our legacy, and the caliber of our participating students demand nothing less. 


More ISSI history and fun here: