Applications for 2020 are now closed


2020 Dates: June 21 – July 17

Center Stage Strings is an MPulse Summer Performing Arts Institute at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

To learn more about the daily life of a CSS Student, click here 

To learn more about the U-M MPulse Summer Performing Arts Institutes, click here

All interested students must complete the three step Application process:

1. Students 17 and under must complete the MPulse Online Application.  If you are 18 and over, you can go directly to the online audition portal below in step 3.

2. Pay a non-refundable Application Fee: $75 (students 18 and over will be prompted to pay this fee after they visit and complete the online audition portal in the link below)

3. Upload your audition materials via Acceptd, the MPulse Online Audition PortalUpload all Institute-specific audition media (audition video files, required documents, headshots, etc.) here.

Priority Application Deadline for all materials to be submitted is February 1st.   Application Requirements are listed below

Session Dates: June 21-July 17, 2020
Priority Application Deadline: February 1, 2020
Tuition: $4500

Program Description
Center Stage Strings was founded by renowned violinist and U-M Professor Danielle Belen to develop the talents of serious young classical music students in the areas of solo and chamber music performance. The natural beauty of the campus surroundings and the music intertwine in this four-week long institute to create a unique summer experience. Students are expected to stay for the entire four weeks.

The young musicians chosen to participate will have a unique opportunity to focus purely on developing their talents without the distractions of normal, everyday life. Although all CSS students will study and perform chamber music during the four week session, applicants can also elect to be considered for the Chamber Music Accelerated Program, in which they are placed with other experienced players looking to complete full works in a more intensive environment. Students are selected from a competitive pool of applicants and there are a limited number of spots.

In addition to the student-driven coursework of Center Stage Strings, there are also Guest Artist Recitals, Faculty Concerts and Masterclasses presented by world class artists and teachers.

Components of Center Stage Strings

  • Student-driven coursework
  • Private and group lessons
  • Faculty Concerts
  • Masterclasses
  • Guest artist recitals
  • Performance Opportunities
  • Chamber Music
  • ‘Complete Musician’ professional development
  • Community outreach performances
  • College application and audition preparation

Age Eligibility
Center Stage Strings accepts applications from students ages 12-24. Minors aged 12-17 stay in residence halls, while students who are 18 and over (by the start of the session) reside in on-campus adult housing.

The application for Center Stage Strings consists of three parts.

Applications are not considered complete until all required materials and application payment have been received.

Application Checklist for Center Stage Strings

  1. Complete the Online Application (see above for the different requirements for applicant aged 17 and younger vs. adult students)
  2. Pay the non-refundable Application Fee of $75.00
  3. Upload your Audition Materials via Acceptd, the MPulse Online Audition Portal (details for each entry outlined in Audition Portal)

o    Audition Videos

o    Personal Statement (video)

o    Repertoire List

o    Headshot

o    Recommendation Letter

Application Deadline & Admissions Notification
Priority Application Deadline for all materials to be submitted is FEBRUARY 1st

Admission notifications for priority applicants will be e-mailed on March 1, 2020. For priority consideration and notification, all application and audition materials must be received by the priority deadline.

Applications may be accepted after the priority deadline for programs and/or instruments in which openings remain. Review, admission, and notification for late applications will be on a rolling basis. Space is limited.

Admissions decisions will not be given by phone.

Audition Requirements

All audition videos must include the following:

Audition Piece 1

  • A movement of a concerto (or showpiece of comparable difficulty)

Audition Piece 2

  • A contrasting work. Bach would be acceptable as a contrasting work, or a slow Mvmt of the same concerto.

At least one of these pieces should be performed with accompaniment.  Both pieces should be performed from memory (unless contrasting piece is a sonata). Audio and picture quality of your video are important (see guidelines below).

Additional repertoire for the Chamber Music Accelerated Program Audition
Students wishing to be considered for this program (see Program Description above) will need to prepare the following piece and excerpts in addition to their regular audition repertoire above.

VIOLIN: Exposition of the first mvmt of a Mozart violin concerto, with piano

Chamber Music Excerpts (Violin): Beethoven String Quartet Op.18 no. 4, first mvmt beginning to m.77 (first violin part) AND Brahms String Quartet op. 67 no. 3, first mvmt beginning to m.82 (first violin part)

VIOLA: Exposition of the Stamitz Viola Concerto in D Major, first movement with piano OR the first movement of a viola Sonata by Brahms, Hindemith, Vieuxtemps, Schubert or Clarke. Other Sonatas may be considered with prior approval.
Chamber Music Excerpts (Viola): Mozart “Kegelstatt” Trio in E flat Major K. 498, first movement mm. 57-End AND Brahms Quartet No. 3 Op. 67, third movement (Agitato) Beginning to mm. 57.
CELLO: Exposition of the first movement of Haydn cello concertos in C Major or D Major with piano, OR the first movement of one of the last three Beethoven sonatas, Brahms F Major sonata, or Shostakovich sonata. Other sonatas may be considered upon approval.
Chamber Music Excerpts (cello): Mendelssohn piano trio in C minor, mov III. Scherzo, mm 184-230 AND Brahms piano quartet in C minor, mov III. Andante, mm 1-17


  • You may submit multiple videos
  • Make sure that the auditioning student’s face is clearly visible, with their upper body near the camera
  • Ensure that the background of the video is simple, uncluttered, and not too bright (e.g., don’t stand in front of a window).
  • Place the microphone close to the auditioning student and away from the piano.

Record a Personal Statement video. In your Personal Statement video, please elaborate on the following prompts:

  1. Speak about why you are passionate about music.
  2. Share something interesting about yourself.
  3. Discuss why you want to study at MPulse Center Stage Strings.

Your spoken Personal Statement Video should be 3 minutes or less.

The Personal Statement Video should be submitted as a separate file from the audition video.

Upload a document with a list of solo and chamber works studied in the last 5 years.


  1. Upload one color headshot
  2. If possible, please also provide a photo of you with your instrument for professional promotion
  3. Headshots do not have to be professionally taken, but should be clear and recent.
  4. Headshots should be front-facing, as they will be used for ID purposes.

Please ask at least one of your current music teachers (school teacher or private teacher) to assess your work in a confidential letter of recommendation. In addition to your musical abilities, the letter may discuss your personal characteristics such as initiative, dependability, and your commitment to increasing your musical skills.

To invite a recommender to upload your letter of recommendation, submit your recommender’s email when prompted in the online application process. Once you finalize your submission (clicking ‘Final Submit’), the recommender will receive a notification and link to submit your confidential recommendation. E-mailed submissions will not be accepted.


  1. Audition videos with repertoire required above

o    If applying for Accelerated Program, include those videos in addition to regular audition videos.

  1. Personal Statement (additional video file)
  2. Repertoire List
  3. Headshot
  4. Recommendation Letter

For more information regarding the MPulse Summer Performing Arts Institutes, please visit