Alumni Spotlight: Sol A. Flores

Meet Alumna Sol A. Flores

Year(s) Attended Merit: 1983 – 1988

Program(s): Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory

Instrument(s): Piano, Voice

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Current profession:  Founding Executive Director (since 2002) for La Casa Norte (LCN), a community-based organization in Chicago whose mission is to serve youth and families confronting homelessness.

Words of wisdom for Merit students:  “Make friends, attend events, and know that when you are giving your best…that’s perfect!”

How did you first learn about Merit School of Music?  My mother first learned about Merit through my elementary school, Franklin Fine Arts Center.  She asked me if I was interested. I remember there was some type of audition/interview and then I was accepted!  I also benefited from receiving a scholarship and sliding scale fee assistance, since my mother would not have been able to pay in full for me to attend otherwise.

If you had not participated in Merit’s programs, how would your life be different today?  Merit was one of those places where I felt special – a place where I knew that my budding talents were being nurtured.  Merit exposed me to Chicago’s diverse residents, it taught me music history and appreciation; it gave me opportunities to perform and therefore I developed stage presence which inspired me to peek outside of my “10-year-old comfort zone.”  I am a first generation Puerto Rican woman that came from a working-class family…my mom worked really hard to make sure I was educated and to find opportunities like Merit that opened up my world and exposed me to things that I normally would not have known.

Can you recall anything a specific teacher said or did that you found particularly inspiring and/or memorable?  Duffie Adelson was always so incredibly warm, encouraging and inspiring. I remember that she kept musical time by tapping her ring on the top of the piano.  She gave me praise, told me what I was good at and how I could be even better.  I remember always feeling so comfortable in her class, and I wanted to do better for her and myself!  And she always knew when I hadn’t practiced enough, LOL!

Do you remember your very first day at Merit? What was it like?  Yes! I do remember being terrified during my audition, yet still yearning to be a part of this incredible place.  My first day at Merit was when the program was located at the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue.  I remember stepping into the elevator and having the attendant take us up to the Merit floor.  The building seemed so grand, historical and beautiful to me… it seemed like the perfect place for me to be.  I loved being in the hallways, watching students come and go with their instruments, looking down the atrium — and of course, the elevator rides!

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