Merit Raises More Than $1 Million at 2017 Gala, Honors Top Supporters Joe and Madeleine Glossberg, Jazz Legend Ramsey Lewis

Merit School of Music honored two leading supporters of the arts and education, Joe and Madeleine Glossberg, along with Chicago jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, the internationally renowned composer and pianist, at the annual Merit Gala, which took place on Thursday, May 4 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, 221 N. Columbus Drive.

Merit honored the Glossbergs with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts in recognition of their unwavering support for the arts and arts education. Joe Glossberg, a high-profile Chicago financial advisor with a passion for jazz, has been an active and generous Merit Trustee for more than 20 years. He is now a Merit Life Trustee. Mrs. Glossberg has joined her husband in supporting Merit through committee membership for galas, sponsoring Merit’s programs and advocating for Merit through her community involvement.

Ramsey Lewis received Merit School of Music’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Known internationally for his many contributions to music and education, Lewis has long been involved with Merit as an active member of its National Advisory Board, offering master classes to students and championing Merit’s efforts to engage a student body reflecting the city of Chicago so that students of all backgrounds are able to achieve their full personal, musical potential. Lewis has recorded more than 80 albums and has received seven gold records and three Grammy Awards.

The Merit Gala provided a celebratory reception for the non-profit community music school, and attracted nearly 400 attendees, raising more than $1 million. All proceeds benefit Merit School of Music and its mission to transform the lives of Chicago-area youth through removing barriers to high-quality music education.

Following cocktails, guests were welcomed by Gala co-chairs Charlie and Caroline Huebner, and Tom and Kathy Lanctot. A delicious dinner was accompanied by an inspiring tribute video about Merit student Isaias Nava, tuba, of Chicago’s Gage Park, who is leveraging his conservatory education at Merit into a promising future. Isaias will graduate from high school and Merit this spring, and attend Illinois State University in the fall.

“We are extremely proud of all that Merit’s students accomplish musically and personally thanks to the lifelong generosity and dedication of champions such as Joe and Madeleine Glossberg and Ramsey Lewis,” said Charles Grode, President and Executive Director, Merit School of Music. “We are grateful to them and to every member of the Merit family for helping us to sustain and grow this uniquely vibrant and diverse musical community.”

Guests were treated to several performances, including a surprise performance from jazz legend Ramsey Lewis after accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award. Merit’s own students capped the evening with performances including a solo from Isaias Nava, accompanied by the Wind Symphony, and performances from the Alegre Strings Violin Choir, Merit’s Brass Ensemble and Merit’s Honors Jazz Combo with members of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra.


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