PLAY ON: A Benefit Concert to Support Music Education



Doors: 5:00pm | Show: 7:00 pm

Join Merit School of Music for a special jazz concert benefiting equal access to music education. Merit alum and internationally renowned musician, composer, and bandleader, Marquis Hill will headline the 2nd Annual Play On concert.

Marquis will be joined by fellow alumni Alexis Lombre (performing with the Alexis Lombre Trio) and Christine Whack (as the night’s emcee). He has also invited our very own Honors Jazz Combo to perform during the concert.


One of the finest trumpeters in jazz today, Marquis Hill is also a composer and bandleader whose comprehensive vision highlights the unity and continuity within the musical heritage of African-Americans. On acclaimed albums like his latest, Modern Flows Vol. II, and his 2016 breakout project, The Way We Play, Hill and his working band, the Blacktet, use their next-level musicianship and deeply interactive dynamic to break down the barriers separating bop, hip-hop, R&B and electronic music.

Born in Chicago in 1987 and raised on the city’s South Side, Hill absorbed the jazz tradition both formally—he holds a bachelor’s in music education as well as a master’s in jazz pedagogy—and informally, gaining knowledge from his elders on gigs and at jam sessions. By the time he won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz competition in the fall of 2014, his reputation for fluid virtuosity was firmly established in the Midwest—as a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, an in-demand sideman and a leader with several buzz worthy self-released discs to his credit. Since that watershed victory, Hill has garnered glowing coverage in outlets like the New Yorker, the New York Times, JazzTimes, NPR Music and DownBeat, where he topped the “Rising Star–Trumpet” category in the 2016 Critics Poll. As he’s maintained a nonstop touring schedule with the Blacktet, he’s also supported and guested with a jazz who’s who that includes Marcus Miller, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Boney James, Kurt Elling, Joe Lovano and Hill’s trailblazing Chicago peer Makaya McCraven.

alexis lombre


Alexis Lombre is a young artist who discovered early that the true essence of music is not just about what you hear but how music makes you feel. Her musical mission is to keep the ‘Soul’ in music alive. The 2017 release of her debut album, Southside Sounds, does just that as it is a soulful reflection of her upbringing on Chicago’s South Side that pays homage to its lively artistic cultural heritage. Lombre attended Merit School of Music from 2009-2014.

christine whack


Christine Whack is a Chicago-based singer-songwriter who attended Merit School of Music from 1996-2003. With her progressive blend of pop, neo-soul, alternative, and classical, Whack’s music has taken her to teach and perform abroad in Europe, accompany orchestras in New York, and promote peace and unity in her home city of Chicago. Just last year you may have heard her singing on The AC Green Show on 106.3 FM, or seen her on WGN-TV, WCIU The Jam or made it out to experience her live shows at The Promontory or even City Winery. Having an affinity for the unique and uncommon, Whack is a creative force who has chosen to use her musical voice to bring about positive change.


Presenting Sponsor

Silver Sponsors

Michael Andrews &
Ryan Ruskin

Bronze SponsorS

Andrius & Marie Strimaitis

aria group
morgan lewis
wenk aviation

Allegro Sponsors

Charles River Associates

Lake Street Lofts

Adagio Sponsors

Craft Mechanical

Beth Nagy Design

Dr. Anthony King

MEDIA Sponsor

Contact us to discuss customizing benefits to your sponsorship goals.

Call Meredith Richard, Merit’s Individual Giving Manager, at 312-267-4480 or email [email protected] with questions or for more information.