Renee Fleming Named Merit School of Music's 35th Anniversary Gala Honoree

Internationally-recognized soprano Renée Fleming - recent recipient of the National Medal of Arts, Lyric Opera of Chicago's first-ever Creative Consultant, and known as "the people's diva" - will be the special honoree at Merit School of Music's 35th Anniversary Gala, May 8, 2014 at 6 p.m. at the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago.

Tickets are $500. All proceeds benefit Merit School of Music and its mission to give children - especially children living in economically disadvantaged communities - the opportunity to grow through music. To reserve tickets, call Merit School of Music, 312. 267.4461.

"Merit School of Music is thrilled to salute four-time Grammy winner Renée Fleming for her outstanding leadership in supporting accessible, high-quality arts education in Chicago and nationwide," said civic leader and Merit School of Music Life Trustee Judith A. Istock, who is co-chairing Merit's Gala with fellow Life Trustee Richard L. Thomas, Chairman (Retired), First Chicago NBD Corp. "Not only is she one of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, Renée is making an incredibly significant contribution in Chicago - partnering with Merit to mentor our most talented music students, and helping train our next generation of opera and musical theater stars."

Since 2011, Fleming has spearheaded a collaboration between Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she is also a member of the Board and a Vice President, and Merit School of Music which has significantly expanded Merit's vocal music curriculum. Due to Fleming's efforts, 36 students in Merit's Solo Voice Program, along with 332 other Merit students in the Tuition-free Conservatory, now have the opportunity to participate in a variety of Lyric Opera offerings, including attending performances, rehearsals, career days and pre-curtain presentations. Fleming also conducts periodic master classes at Merit and works with voice students, listening to their singing and offering advice and encouragement.

In addition to presenting Fleming with Merit's Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, guests at Merit's 35th Anniversary Gala will share in the success stories and be treated to live performances by Merit's students and ensembles.

JPMorgan Chase also will be recognized with a 2014 Corporate Leadership Award for its continued work with Merit School of Music over the past 35 years. Rounding out this special evening are a cocktail reception with an open bar and hors d'oeuvres, a delicious sit-down dinner, and the chance to dance late into the evening at an After Party hosted by the Merit Alumni Committee featuring live music performed by the Merit Honors Jazz Ensemble.

Photo by Andrew Eccles




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