Merit School of Music guitarist Eddy Liberzon is on a roll. This November, the seventh-grade Conservatory student had four performances at three different venues over the course of five days…in addition to a full Saturday of Conservatory ensembles and classes in the middle of it all!
Thursday evening was a performance by the Honors Jazz Combo at Chicago’s University Club. Friday and Saturday nights Eddy and the rest of Merit’s Guitar Ensemble played alongside Ballet Chicago dancers, showcasing pieces by female composers and original choreography by emerging women choreographers. And, the following Tuesday, it was off to City Winery for a spotlight on our Honors Jazz Ensemble during Play On 2022 featuring Merit alum Peter CottonTale.
“Having four gigs is kind of crazy, but it’s also fun. It’s different genres—both classical and jazz gigs. At the University Club, it wasn’t just a concert for us. People were talking, and we were background music. That’s how a lot of jazz works, so it was a new experience for me. My teacher says, ‘Know where the spotlight is on the music—sometimes it’s not on you. Know your role in an ensemble and how you fit with everyone else.’” Eddy also notes that with so much going on, “[It’s] also just not forgetting to bring anything I need!”
Eddy is one of the many Merit students who is back to performing at venues all around the city this year. While he and his fellow jazz musicians were playing their hearts out across town in early November, several Merit pianists performed Beethoven, Haydn, and more for residents downtown at The Clare. And December is always filled with many holiday concerts. One of this year’s highlights will be when over 50 of our Merit Music in Communities strings students perform at the Willis Tower.
Eddy’s mom Olga recognizes the opportunity he’s receiving. “He has tons of opportunities to perform. It opens his eyes to the creative outlets in music and other art forms. He’s working with [Ballet Chicago] and understanding how they work together. He’s working with other musicians, collaborating, and creating something together. What Merit gives him goes beyond any individual instruction. It’s the sense of community and feeling like you’re part of a movement. He started taking private lessons, but when he got into Merit’s Conservatory program, he added music theory and composition—and he’s gotten really into jazz. Now he really has a double track of classical music and jazz.”
All in all, the opportunity to perform in the community has so many benefits for our students. As Kurt Gildow, Merit’s Dean & Vice President for Educational Affairs, says, “It’s great to give our Merit students so much performance experience at such an early age. Whether or not one chooses to pursue professional music as a career choice, performance training builds self-esteem, skills in public speaking, time management, teamwork dynamics, and the confidence-building that comes with setting and achieving goals.”
Performing is also just plain fun too! So good luck to Eddy and all our Merit students who are enjoying so many performances out and about this year.
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