Joining Fleming at the news conference to announce the collaboration were Lyric President and CEO Kenneth G. Pigott, who also serves on the Merit board; Lyric General Director Designate Anthony Freud; Ryan Opera Center Director Gianna Rolandi; and Merit President Duffie Adelson.
Since Lyric announced the Renée Fleming Initiative, plans have solidified for the long-term collaboration between Lyric Opera and the highly regarded community music school, which is based on the near-west side of Chicago, less than a mile from the Civic Opera House. Founded in 1979, Merit School of Music is regarded as a principal leader in providing extraordinary music education and life-changing experiences for Chicago-area children through music. Of the more than 6,000 students participating in Merit’s numerous programs, 375 have been selected by audition for Merit’s advanced program, the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory.
La Diva Renée says:
The collaboration between Lyric and Merit School of Music, one of the country’s best community music schools, creates an exciting and extraordinary environment for teens with vocal potential. Lyric will assist Merit in enhancing its vocal program and will make Lyric Opera more accessible to all Merit students.As I'm sure you're aware - In addition to a distinguished operatic career Fleming also has background is in music education; both her parents were high-school vocal music teachers in public schools.
Fleming noted that Merit has always offered vocal instruction through its many choirs as well as a voice major through its Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. Now, though, the Merit-Lyric partnership has inspired the creation of a more intensive opera and music-theater track. The solo voice major program has now enrolled, by audition, 46 students, who receive instruction every Saturday during Merit’s 2011-12 school year, from October through early May.
Participants may concentrate on opera and music theater or on jazz, through the American songbook. Merit’s voice faculty has developed a curriculum that encompasses private and group vocal instruction covering vocal technique and solo repertoire; instruction in language, diction, acting, and movement; and music theory, among other subjects.
Lyric General Director Designate Anthony Freud said:
As I said when I was named Lyric’s general director last April, my goal is to excite and stimulate the Chicago public – including students such as those at Merit School who previously may never have considered that Lyric Opera can be relevant to their lives. Chicago is a wonderfully diverse and vibrant city, and as one of the city’s truly great institutions, Lyric can and must provide broad and deep cultural service to communities throughout our city – as exemplified by this exciting collaboration with Merit School. We are one of the world’s finest opera companies, and we must also be a community resource, always addressing the unique needs and attributes of our city.