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Yo-Yo Ma & Howard Gottlieb to be Honored at Merit School of Music Annual Gala

Merit School of Music, a nationally accredited music school helping young people of all backgrounds achieve their full potential in and through music, will honor renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Chicago-based philanthropist Howard Gottlieb at its annual gala on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton,160 E Pearson.

Dedicated to helping young people transform their lives by removing barriers to a high-quality music education, more than two-thirds of Merit’s students benefit from need-based financial aid and low-cost instrument rental.  The annual gala is an integral part of the funding of these programs.

“A member of our National Advisory Board for many years, Yo-Yo Ma has devoted his boundless energy and talent to inspiring and encouraging our young Merit musicians as well as their peers across the city of Chicago,” noted Charles Grode, president and executive director, Merit School of Music.  “His commitment to transforming lives through music sets a sterling example for us all.  We are grateful for his enduring friendship and advocacy for our school, students, and mission, and are privileged to be able to honor him with our Alice S. Pfaelzer Distinguished Service to the Arts Award.”

According to Grode, Gottlieb, a Merit Life Trustee, will receive the Merit School of Music Lifetime of Service Award.

“Howard Gottlieb’s exemplary, generous support of Merit has been central to of our ability to grow as an organization, and to develop thousands of young musicians throughout the Chicago area by removing financial, geographic, and personal barriers to excellent musical instruction,” Grode stated.  “It is because of individuals such as Howard, a successful business man and an accomplished violinist who has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, that Chicago is a very special city when it comes to the support of musical education and performance.”

“I have admired the work of the Merit School of Music for decades and have been so glad to see its growth under Duffie Adelson and Charlie Grode,” Ma said.  “One of the purposes of music is service, to our city and to whoever is in need – a value that is at the center of Merit’s work. It’s a great honor to receive the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award, and even more to be on the same stage with Howard Gottlieb – without his generous spirit, I know the full quality and extent of Merit’s work would not have been possible.”

Gala co-chairs are Julie and Dan Baumeister and Judy Istock.  Duffie A. Adelson, a long-time staff leader and champion for Merit, is serving as  honorary co-chair.  The evening will begin with a reception at 6pm followed by dinner and performances by Merit students at 7 pm.

Register for the 2018 Gala here. To support Gala 2018 as a benefactor, contact Steven Berry at 312-267-4461 or via email at For more information, see our sponsorship packet here.

About Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Mr. Ma maintains a balance between engagements as a soloist with orchestras, recital and chamber music activities, and collaborations with a wide circle of artists and institutions. With partners from around the world and across disciplines, Mr. Ma creates programs that stretch the boundaries of genre and tradition to explore music-making as a means not only to share and express meaning, but also as a model for the cultural collaboration he considers essential to a strong society.

Mr. Ma is a founder of Silkroad, an organization he founded to promote cross-cultural performance and collaborations at the edge where education, business, and the arts come together to transform the world.  More than 80 works have been commissioned specifically for the Silkroad Ensemble, which tours annually.  Mr. Ma also serves as the Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Negaunee Music Institute.  His work focuses on the transformative power music can have in individuals’ lives, and on increasing the number and variety of opportunities audiences have to experience music in their communities.

Mr. Ma was born in Paris to Chinese parents who later moved the family to New York.  He began to study cello at the age of four, attended the Juilliard School and in 1976 graduated from Harvard University.  He has received numerous awards, among them the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the National Medal of Arts (2001), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010).  In 2011; Mr. Ma was recognized as a Kennedy Center Honoree.  He has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the invitation of President Obama on the occasion of the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.

For additional information, see: and

About Howard Gottlieb

Howard Gottlieb is the General Partner of Glen Eagle Partners, Ltd., a family private investment firm. He was a founding partner of Glenwood Partners and Chairman of Glenwood Financial Group.

Mr. Gottlieb is an accomplished violinist. He has played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and performed widely with orchestras and chamber music groups in the United States and Europe.

He is a Life Trustee of the Merit School of Music, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ravinia Festival and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a former trustee of the Aspen Music Festival and School and past member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Mr. Gottlieb is a graduate of the University of Chicago and serves on the University’s Visiting Committee.

About Merit School of Music

Chicago’s Merit School of Music is a nationally accredited music school helping young people transform their lives by removing barriers to high-quality music education. Our 125 passionate and experienced teaching artists engage nearly 5,000 students annually through sustained introductory, preparatory, and conservatory level music instruction – including classical and jazz, and featuring band, voice, and orchestra, as well as guitar and piano.

Merit’s comprehensive array of course offerings is distinguished by two signature programs, beginning with our community-based program, Merit Music In Communities, and building toward the intensive, audition-based Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. Thanks to the dedication of Merit’s  faculty, staff, board, donors and parents, nearly 70 percent of our students receive need-based aid. This enables motivated students, regardless of economic circumstance, to develop their talent and to use Merit as a springboard for achieving their full musical and personal potential, with virtually 100 percent of our conservatory graduates going on to conservatory, college, or university.

To learn more about Merit School of Music, visit or call 312.786.9428.


CONTACT: Kim Shepherd

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