On May 8, Chicago's prestigious Merit School of Music awarded Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts as part of the school's 35th anniversary gala celebration at the Palmer House Hilton.

On May 8, Chicago's prestigious Merit School of Music awarded Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts as part of the school's 35th anniversary gala celebration at the Palmer House Hilton.

Lyric's Board President Kenneth G. Pigott presented Fleming with the award, saying that Lyric is "a new and different organization thanks in major part to Renée Fleming."

Fleming, who was appointed Lyric's creative consultant in December 2010, has worked closely with Merit School of Music almost since the beginning of her tenure. Merit was the first school to partner with Lyric in what has now become the Vocal Partnership Program, offered through Lyric Unlimited. The program provides an avenue for high school students at five partner organizations to learn about opera and develop their skills through access to artistry and expertise from Lyric Opera artists and staff. Participants’ interest and passion for singing is supported and nurtured through special events such as attendance at Lyric Opera performances and rehearsals, backstage tours, recitals at partner schools, and master classes and conversations with main stage artists.

As part of this ongoing collaboration, Fleming has led master classes with students from Merit's Alice F. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory, participated in Lyric's first-ever career day for Merit students, and met with the school's vocal faculty to discuss Lyric's partnership and share pedagogy techniques.  

Fleming's award was the highlight of this gala celebration, which also featured performances from Merit's many music ensembles: brass, opera and musical theater, vocal jazz, conservatory choir, and the honors jazz combo.

Merit School of Music is nationally recognized for providing accessible, high-quality music education to nearly 5,000 Chicago-area students. Merit School of Music is devoted to giving children—especially children living in economically disadvantaged communities—the opportunity to grow through music. To learn more, visit meritmusic.org

Photo credits:

  • Renée Fleming accepts the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts (Credit Jasmin Shah / Merit School of Music)
  • Renée Fleming with Merit students (Credit Jasmin Shah / Merit School of Music)