Merit Wind Symphony Performs at University of Illinois

At Merit School of Music, we know that an excellent music education can change a child’s life.

But what exactly do we mean by “excellent”? Our skilled, experienced teaching artists and rigorous curriculum are a huge part of it. However, the once-in-a-lifetime concerts, masterclasses, competitions, and trips that we expose students to are also key ingredients of our secret sauce. When a child is exposed to experiences like these, something special happens. They begin to see a future for themselves they previously never could have imagined.

Merit’s Conservatory Wind Symphony recently had such an experience when they were invited by the University of Illinois to take a special tour of the school (including a visit to their John Philip Sousa archives!) and perform alongside their illustrious Illinois Wind Symphony.

As the Director of Wind Symphony, Chip Staley, explains, this honor isn’t something most high school band students have a chance to experience: “Professor Stephen Peterson from U of I visited Merit last year to work with our Wind Symphony. He was so impressed with our music making that he immediately invited us to share a concert with the world famous University of Illinois Wind Symphony. The Merit Wind Symphony is the first high school band ever to share the stage with this premiere collegiate ensemble at Foellinger Great Hall in Champaign, Illinois . It was my honor to lead the fabulous Merit musicians as they performed an incredible concert. We made many new friends at the University of Illinois and are looking forward to inviting other faculty to visit Merit in the near future.

Clarinetist Zoe Underwood adds “It was an honor to get to play in a joint concert with the U of I’s Wind Symphony. Not only did we get to experience playing in a new, larger space, we also got a glimpse of college life and music beyond high school, as well as an amazing and inspiring performance after we had performed ourselves. It’s rare for students to get to be in an environment with so much rich musical history, and to get a taste of what our futures could be in a few years.

Thank you, University of Illinois and Professor Peterson for such an incredible experience!

Now, sit back and enjoy a clip of the Wind Symphony’s special Foellinger Great Hall performance.