Lyric Opera announces partnership with Merit School of Music

Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Renée Fleming, the Lyric Opera’s creative consultant, announced the company’s new partnership with the Merit School of Music at the near-West side school on Monday.

“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,” said Fleming, reading from a prepared statement. Through this collaboration, the Lyric “will assist Merit in enhancing its vocal program and will make Lyric Opera more accessible to all Merit students,”  she said.

Though many details of the collaboration weren’t made clear in the released statement, the Lyric Opera will essentially make tutelary and performance opportunities available to students enrolled in the Merit School’s opera and music-theater track, part of a recently added voice major program.

* Fleming will offer three sessions via Skype to Merit voice students during the 2011-12 season.

* The Lyric will “provide an extension” of weekly Merit voice lessons “through access to performances and professionals” and “learning opportunities provided by Lyric through its education department will be integrated into their studies.”

*  There will be a program called “Opera Buddy for a Day!” in which Merit voice majors will follow members of the Ryan Opera Center around during a typical day in the center’s program.

* The Lyric will provide access to selected performances to Merit voice and nonvoice majors as well as backstage tours.

The Merit School serves about 6,000 Chicago-area youths and provides schooling free of tuition or heavily subsidized to students 18 and under.  The school was founded in 1979 when the Chicago Public Schools eliminated music from its elementary-school curriculum.

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