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Virtual Gala 2021


to all who helped make Merit’s Virtual Gala 2021 such a great success.

Thanks to your support, we exceeded our fundraising goal of $1 million with a total of $1.1 million! Our students, faculty, and staff are so thankful for your continued support as we strive to keep the music going.

Didn’t have a chance to donate during the event? It’s never too late to give the gift of music!

Watch the Full Virtual Gala Recording

If you weren’t able to celebrate live with us or want to relive the unforgettable night all over again, you can rewatch the entire event from start to finish. Enjoy!

A Collaborative Rendition of Vaughan Williams

A 75-member ensemble of students and string players from the Lyric Opera Orchestra collaborate together for a breathtaking performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Concerto Grosso for String Orchestra, March & Reprise.

How the Merit Community Kept the Music Alive

When the pandemic hit, Merit quickly shifted to meet the needs of students in a virtual world. This video will leave you feeling inspired by the resilience of our community and with hope for the future!

Merit Alumni Sing The Flower Duet

Merit alumni Emily Sierra, Shannon Keegan, and recent Conservatory graduate Bella Berman perform a stunning rendition of The Flower Duet from Lakmé by Léo Delibes.

Alegre Strings Perform La Cumparsita

Merit’s Alegre Strings Ensemble surprised Virtual Gala viewers with a special performance filmed in Mary Bartelme Park, located across the street from Merit’s West Loop music center. 

A Tribute to Gala Honoree, Sir Andrew Davis

In this video tribute to Sir Andrew Davis, Merit’s Virtual Gala 2021 honoree, his many friends share their favorite memories and reflect on the impact he has had on their lives.

Student Spotlight: Joshua’s Incredible Story

Joshua Mhoon is an extraordinarily gifted pianist and recent Merit Conservatory graduate who will be attending The Juilliard School this fall. Here’s the incredible story of how access to music education changed his life.

Sticks & Stones Make Music in Gottlieb Hall

Merit percussion quartet Sticks & Stones perform an energetic rendition of Mallet Quartet (Excerpt from Mvt. III) by Steve Reich filmed in Anne & Howard Gottlieb Hall located in Merit’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center.

Strengthening Connections with Alumni

Over the past year, Merit alums from all over the country have been able to connect with our students more than ever before. This touching video shares some of the impactful ways alums have mentored the next generation of musicians.

Young Voice Students Close Out the Night

Students from Merit’s Children’s Choir & Mixed Choir helped end the Virtual Gala on a high note with an adorable cover of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman.



Richard and Helen Thomas & Family



Howard Gottlieb and Barbara Greis
Caroline and Charlie Huebner
The Negaunee Foundation
Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan



Ryan and Amy DeVore
& William Blair
Parents & Families of Merit Students
Earl Rusnak, Jr. and Sandra Rusnak



Julie and Dan Baumeister
Ginny and Peter Foreman
Joe and Madeleine Glossberg
Kenneth C. Griffin
Janice L. Honigberg
Judy and Verne Istock
Julian Family Foundation
The Knowles Foundation
Thomas and Janet Leopold
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius,
Thomas Linguanti and Olivia Tyrrell
& Julie Stapel and David Kalat
David Thomas
Zell Family Foundation



Michael Andrews and Ryan Ruskin
Anonymous in Honor of Sir Andrew Davis
Clean Law PC
Sasha Gerritson and Eugene Jarvis
Tom Hurvis and Ann Andersen
Anne L. Kaplan
Cathy and Bill Osborn
Lorna and Ellard L. Pfaelzer, Jr.
Nina G. Stillman
Susie Pfaelzer Sultan and John Sultan
U.S. Bank
West Loop Dot Gallery



Duffie A. Adelson
BakerMcKenzie LLP
Julie and Roger Baskes
BMO Harris Bank
CAM Comm
Cambridge Audio
Huan J. Chang and Robert R. Stauffer
ComEd, an Exelon Company
The Gies Foundation
Ellen and Paul Gignilliat
Anne and William Goldstein
Peter Gotsch and Jana French
Jenner & Block
Heidi Lukas and Charles Grode
Jim and Kay Mabie
Jennifer and Reg Montague
Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel
Shelley Ochab and Chester Gougis
Abiman Rajadurai and Joanna Bartold
Doris Roskin
Ann and Ray Rusnak
Smart Family Foundation of Illinois
Liz Stiffel
Donna and Tom Stone
T. Rowe Price Private Asset Management
Sheri and Sherwin Zuckerman



Meredith Barber and Tom Fitzsimmons
James A. Erwin
Foley & Lardner LLP
Jason and Caitlin Gatchell
Debra Kerr and Steven Thompson
Robert Kohl and Clark Pellett
Marisela and JK Lawson
Shure Incorporated
Edward S. Weil Jr. Family Donor Trust



Anonymous (2)
Aria Group Architects
Gerhard and Kathy Bette
Jayson Bronchetti/Lincoln Financial
Nick Bubnovich
Dean L. and Rosemarie Buntrock Foundation
Leslie and John Burns
Tim Calkins and Carol Saltoun
Carol and John Clavadetscher
Craft Mechanical
Lois and Steve Eisen
Front Barnett Associates LLC and
Mr. & Mrs. Isaac Goldman
Varda and Joel Goldman
Heather Haukness and David Bentrem
Dolores Kohl Education Foundation
Robert and Sara Leopold
Charlotte and Gil Minor
PJH & Associates, Inc.
Michael and Diane Richard
Ruthie and Rich Ryan
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Susie and Sam Tenenbaum
Penny and John Van Horn

It's never too late to give the gift of music!

Your support transforms the lives of young musicians across Chicagoland.