Merit Students Eagerly Prepare for Performances at Gala 2022

On any given Saturday at Merit School of Music’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center, there is always a flurry of activity. Students bustle in and out of the building, laughter erupts from the hallways, and of course, music flows from every practice room and rehearsal hall. Our Conservatory students are abundantly happy to be together,  making music in person. The next few weeks promise to be a whirlwind for them—between our upcoming spring concerts, graduation for our departing seniors, Stringtacular, andthe opportunity for many of our young musicians to perform at our annual Gala on May 18 at the Four Seasons Chicago.  

After two years of performing virtually for our Gala, our students eagerly anticipate the chance to perform live for many of Merit’s most dedicated supporters. “This year, because we get to perform at the Gala in person, there’s a mixture of nerves plus the excitement of getting back to something we enjoy so much,” shares Luna, a violin student and member of our Alegre Strings. For years, their “staircase performance” has been a signature staple of the Merit Gala. These talented young musicians greet all 400 guests on the grand staircase of the Four Seasons as they make their way to the ballroom.  

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Our Alegre Strings performing on the grand staircase of the Four Seasons Chicago at our 2019 Merit Gala.

Merit’s Gala is a truly vital affair for the school, as it is the largest fundraising event of the year, which supports our financial aid program as well as our Conservatory. It is also our opportunity to honor some of the community’s strongest advocates for the arts and music education. This year, we honor Lori Julian with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, and William Blair with our Corporate Leadership Award. We cannot wait to reunite as a community and experience the impact of Merit’s valuable work through student performances, and to celebrate the cause of providing truly equitable music education for Chicagoland’s youth. 

Student performances during this year’s Gala include the Honors Jazz Combo during cocktails and dazzling piano and brass performances during the program. Luke Magee, a senior piano student who is bound for the Manhattan School of Music in the fall, beautifully sums up the experience: “There’s nothing quite like playing ‘live’ for an audience. Yes, you can hear things over Zoom, but we’re looking forward to performing for our community in person again and receiving that energy back—and it’s even better to be doing it for a great cause like Merit.”  

Luke and Elio, two of our senior piano students, are thrilled to be performing again, in person, at our Gala on May 18!

Merit’s mission would simply not be possible without your support. We sincerely thank you for donating and look forward to seeing you at the gala! If you have not already done so, please consider purchasing a ticket and joining us on May 18 or making a donation to support our efforts to provide access to high-quality music education for young musicians across Chicagoland. 

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