DSO Flutist and Merit Music Alum Demarre Mcgill Comes Home to Chicago

Mike Lawson • News • January 15, 2016

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Demarre McGill and Elizabeth KijowskiDallas Symphony Orchestra Flutist and Merit Music Alum Demarre Mcgill Comes Home to Inspire Chicago’s Next Generation of Talented Musicians

CHICAGO, January 13, 2016 – Renowned classical musician Demarre McGill, principal flutist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, returned to his hometown Chicago on December 19 to lead a master class with a small number of elite students at his musical alma mater, Merit School of Music.

Studying with such an accomplished, inspiring musician is a moment Merit’s students will treasure for years to come. McGill worked one-on-one with the school’s top flute students, all enrolled in its highest level of training, Merit’s Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory.

“The masterclass was fantastic,” said Maddy Keane, 16, a junior at Evergreen Park Community High School. “Mr. McGill gave tons of guidance on the orchestral excerpts I played for him as well as other excerpts.” Three additional master class participants – Sofia Frumkin, 14, a freshman at Northside College Prep, Breanna Vazquez, 16, a junior at Chicago High School for the Arts, and Elizabeth Kijowski, 16, a junior who is homeschooled – all were grateful for their time with McGill as well.

Elizabeth Kijowski, Breanna Vazquez, Sofia Frumkin, Maddy Deanne and DemarreMcGillMcGill was equally impressed with Merit’s students. “The best thing about leading a master class at Merit is the opportunity to work with these fine students, especially knowing that I used to be one of them,” he said. “I can’t think of anything that brings more joy then remembering that this is where I came from. So the opportunity to share my musical ideas with the kids enrolled at Merit today is unbelievable.”

Merit’s conservatory program is home to some of the most talented, committed, passionate and disciplined young musicians in the Chicago area. Conservatory students receive college preparatory level training from Chicago’s finest music instructors, tuition-free, and frequently participate in master classes led by nationally acclaimed musicians like McGill. Nearly 100% of the Conservatory’s graduating seniors are accepted into college, and most continue their music studies at top colleges, universities and music conservatories.

In addition to his role as Principal Flute with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, McGill has won the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and has performed around the world. He has appeared as concerto soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphonies of Pittsburgh, Seattle, San Diego, Baltimore, and Milwaukee. McGill has played at international festivals including the Stellenbosch Chamber Music Festival in South Africa, St. Bart’s Music Festival in the Caribbean and the Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival in South Korea.Maddy Deanne and Demarre McGill

Demarre, and his brother, Anthony McGill, are originally from Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood, and both were high-performing students at Merit School of Music’s Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory when they were in high school.Both went on to incredibly successful careers. Anthony was selected to play at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, and today, he is Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic.

In fact, at Merit’s annual gala on May 10, Demarre, Anthony and their parents will return to Chicago to be honored as a family at Chicago’s Radisson Blu hotel with Merit School of Music’s 2016 Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service.

“As one of only four percent of African American or Latino musicians in professional orchestras, Demarre is such an inspiration, and his master class was a terrific opportunity for our students to study with someone who had the talent, drive and education to make music his career, something they might otherwise never have thought possible,” said Daniel Won, Director of Programs: Performance Studies for Merit School of Music. “Demarre is such a true role model and a joy to be around and we look forward to honoring Demarre, Anthony and his parents in May.”   

Conservatory students, who are accepted by audition, regardless of income, meet on Saturdays during the school year at Merit School of Music’s state-of-the-art Joy Faith Knapp Music Center, 38 S. Peoria St. in Chicago’s West Loop. For more information, including how to audition for the 2016-17 conservatory, visit meritmusic.org/alice-s-pfaelzerconservatory, email  studentservices@meritmusic.org or call(312) 786-9428.

About Merit School of Music

Now in its 37th year, Merit School of Music is a nationally respected community music school located in Chicago’s Near West Side. Known for providing access to high-quality music education, Merit serves a diverse group of over 4,000 students on site and off. It offers a continuum of programs, including early childhood classes, instrumental music instruction, private lessons and the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. Merit is devoted to giving students-especially those living in economically disadvantaged communities-the opportunity to grow through music.

To learn more about Merit’s music education programs, visit meritmusic.org or call (312) 786-9428.


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