CHICAGO (October 12, 2016) – The Boards of Directors of International Music Foundation and Rush Hour Concerts, two of Chicago’s most distinguished classical music presenting organizations, are pleased to announce their merger into one robust non-profit, retaining the name International Music Foundation, effective immediately. Longtime International Music Foundation Executive Director Ann Murray will continue in this role, and Rush Hour Concerts Executive Director Kitty Rothschild will serve as Merger Transition Director through the end of the year. Artistic direction will be shared by Rush Hour Concerts’ talented trio of Anthony Devroye, Kuang-Hao Huang and Brant Taylor, with Artistic Direction for the Do-It-Yourself Messiah and the weekly Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts continuing to be led by the distinguished artistic team of Elizabeth Buccheri, James Setapen, Andrea Swan, Mathias Tacke and Richard Young.
The merger takes place at an important time in the history of International Music Foundation as it commemorates its 40th anniversary in 2017. As Chicago’s landmark musical institutions, both International Music Foundation and Rush Hour Concerts are grounded in the shared missions to reach across all communities with new ways for audiences to experience world-class music here. Given the unique synergies in their programming, the new International Music Foundation will continue the traditions of both organizations while maintaining a mission to attract and develop younger and more diverse audiences and to provide enhanced performance opportunities to established and emerging musicians year-round.
Founded in 1977 by Chicagoan Al Booth as the umbrella organization for the Do-It-Yourself Messiah and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series, International Music Foundation added Live Music Now! in 1981. Rush Hour Concerts, originally founded by pianist Deborah Sobol in 2000 as a summer concert series at St. James Cathedral, added Make Music Chicago in 2011, a citywide, daylong celebration of everyone’s ability to make music on the summer solstice, June 21, and a professional ensemble residency program in Chicago’s neighborhoods in 2012. The new International Music Foundation will include all of these offerings on its platform.
“We are excited about the future potential of our merged organization,” says Emil Zbella, who was President of International Music Foundation before the merger and who will become Vice President of the new International Music Foundation, “The similarity in the visions of Al Booth and Debbie Sobol and, consequently, the similarity in the missions of both organizations make for a natural fit. Al and Debbie would be thrilled to see how their visions are strengthened in the new organization. The wealth of talent in our executive and artistic staffs, and that of our combined boards will guide a stronger and more dynamic organization to an exciting future.”
Tom Orlando, who was President of Rush Hour Concerts, NFP, and will be assuming the same role in the merged organization, added, “Rush Hour Concerts implemented a strategic plan in 2012 seeking a year-round platform to expand our programming and reach. The merger with IMF not only achieves this strategic objective, but will allow for efficiencies and economies of scale for the operation and administration of our programs. Both organizations, now united as one, are excited and poised to build on the existing foundation of their beloved, longstanding programs and to bring more high-quality classical music to the citizens of Chicago for free.”
The new International Music Foundation will be officially launched at a benefit aptly named Perfect Pairings, taking place on Tuesday evening, November 15, at the Women’s Athletic Club, 626 N. Michigan Ave. For more information about the event and to RSVP, visit http://PerfectPairings2016.eventbrite.com.
International Music Foundation Year-Round Programming
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts features solo and ensemble performances that showcase emerging classical performers. Held year-round on Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. in Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center.
A Chicago holiday tradition since 1976, the Do-It-Yourself Messiah brings together a world-class conductor and soloists, an all-volunteer orchestra of local professionals and amateur musicians and thousands of chorus/audience in a thrilling performance of Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.
Live Music Now!
Live Music Now! brings the experience and joy of live performances to Chicago Public School students through in-school recitals and young people’s concerts. The program was inspired by a similar effort created in Great Britain by Yehudi Menuhin who served as a consultant on the Chicago program.
Make Music Chicago
Make Music Chicago is a one-day, citywide, free music festival taking place annually on the Summer Solstice, June 21, and is completely free for musicians and audiences alike.
Rush Hour Concerts Summer Series
Rush Hour Concerts has reinvented the classical music experience through a dedication to artistic quality, a concert format suitable to contemporary lifestyles and a policy of admission-free events. Held on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer at 5:45 p.m. at St. James Cathedral.
Professional Ensemble Educational Residencies
Since 2012, Rush Hour Concerts has partnered with many of Chicago’s finest classical ensembles, including Avalon Quartet, Axiom Brass, Third Coast Percussion and Spektral Quartet, to develop curriculum and partner with after school music programs, currently with The People’s Music School, for intense, multi-session embedded residencies that allow students to interact with working professionals as mentors and teachers in a dynamic way in their own neighborhoods.
For more information on the new International Music Foundation, please visit, www.imfchicago.org.
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