Music of the Baroque Teams Up with Merit Students

For a young music student learning their craft, the value of exposure to professional musicians cannot be overemphasized.  That’s why the Merit faculty and administrators proactively foster partnerships that provide students with the most meaningful music education experiences possible. So when Collins Trier, principal bass player of Music of the Baroque approached Kurt Gildow, Dean and Vice President for Educational Affairs with the idea that Music of the Baroque principal players collaborate with Merit students, we were thrilled to team up with this premiere performing arts organization.

This amazing experience was captured in a short documentary, released last month as part of Music of the Baroque’s MOB in the Community initiative. Long recognized as one of the region’s top classical groups, Music of the Baroque’s professional chorus and orchestra is one of the leading ensembles in the country devoted to the performance of early eighteenth-century works. Music of the Baroque draws audiences from across the Chicago metropolitan area, and the ensemble’s Principal Guest Conductor, Nicholas Kraemer is world-renowned for his expertise in Baroque music. It was Maestro Kraemer who worked with Merit Philharmonic students in a series of masterclasses and workshops to hone their skills in this exacting compositional style known for its emphasis on precision-perfect time signatures and strict attention to compositional detail. Music of the Baroque principal string players, most of whom also play in the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, participated in these working sessions and then performed along with our students one of the twelve movements from the mammoth Concerto Grosso in G Minor, op. 6, no. 6, by George Frederic Handel.  This experience for our students was an extraordinary learning opportunity.

Nicholas Kraemer leads Merit students and Music of the Baroque professionals in rehearsal.

While it’s true that Merit students are well versed in music of the Romantic era, “it’s actually pretty rare for our Merit musicians to be able to do such a deep dive into the Baroque world” says Brian Beach, Merit Program Director, Strings and Orchestra. Throughout their rehearsal—where Conductor Nicholas Kraemer even had a harpsicord brought in to round out the full experience—our string musicians learned new techniques and expressions specific to the performance of Baroque music.

The opportunity to rehearse with and learn from professionals creates an environment where our students are inspired to be serious musicians. “I’ve always worked with young musicians,” shares Maestro Kraemer, “even when I was young; because, it’s intense. It’s probably more intense than most things they do in school. The goal is to get them to go beyond what they think they can do, and I learn so much from them.” Our string players were respected as equals and challenged to grow by the professional players in the Music of the Baroque ensemble

Merit students and principal musicians of Music of the Baroque worked side-by-side for this performance. 

For Brian Beach, “the most wonderful thing about this collaboration is just the sheer joy and wonder [I see in] the faces of the students. It really was just an incredible experience for all of them and they were so very grateful to have had the opportunity to play alongside and learn from masters of their craft.” Merit is so grateful to Music of the Baroque, Principal Guest Conductor Nicholas Kraemer, and their principal musicians for this partnership.

In the coming school year, we look forward to many other exciting collaborations including one with Music of the Baroque and a series of masterclasses for our students with the return of Peter Slowik, head of Oberlin College & Conservatory’s string department. We especially look forward to the Fall 2022 residency of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new Artistic Director, Enrique Mazzola whose work with our students will culminate in an open rehearsal with our Merit Philharmonic and Merit Chorus on November 19.

Learn more about Merit’s collaboration with Music of the Baroque, and experience their performance of Handel’s Concerto Grosso in G Minor, op. 6, no. 6.

Thank you to Music of the Baroque your continued support of Merit, our students, and our mission.

GIVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC

Your gift supports high-quality music instruction for Chicagoland's most talented and driven youth musicians.