MYAC Gala Honors Classical Music Champions

Golden Baton awardees Carl Grapentine and John von Rhein 
160 guests celebrated Midwest Young Artists Conservatory’s 26th season gala theme "The stories through mUSic”: emphasizing our shared connection through the unspoken language of music on April 6 at the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling. The event raised over $125,000 in support of MYAC’s youth music programs.

Two local champions of classical music: Carl Grapentine, former host at WFMT radio, and John von Rhein, former Chicago Tribune classical music critic, were honored with the “Golden Baton Award” recognizing their outstanding contributions to the classical music field. Both men recently retired from their posts: Grapentine after having worked in the field for 46 years and von Rhein after writing for the Tribune for 40 years.

Student chamber groups, choral groups Voices Rising and Vocal Point led by Mrs. Stevi Marks, and Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Mr. Patrick Pearson performed during the event’s cocktail hour as guests mingled and perused the wide array of silent auction items available for the evening’s bidding.

Guests were called to dinner in the adjacent ballroom decorated with a lush spring floral theme, as a grand “Sound of Music” medley filled the room, sung by a full choir accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra led by MYAC Founder and Director Dr. Allan Dennis.

The stories of two graduating seniors, Robert Scherer, bassoon, and Nancy Pulido, double bass, were presented. The teens recounted how MYAC has positively impacted their musical education and their future plans as they now head to college.

A rousing performance of selections from “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story” had guests accompanying the orchestra with shouts of “Mambo!” as the full percussion and horn sections deftly punctuated the rhythm of the piece. Following an exciting live auction led by emcee Ron Bernardi, guests were treated to dessert and dancing to the sounds of MYAC’s Big Band jazz students led by Ms. Ashley Summers.

Dr. Dennis said he is humbled by the generosity of MYAC’s community of supporters and friends both old and new.

“The generous donations of our supporters allow our students to reach their highest potential both personally and musically. They provide the foundation for us to develop and maintain the number of opportunities we can offer young people.” 

In fact many parents of former students who once played and sang in MYAC programs, as well as MYAC alumni themselves now working professionals in industries from medicine to education, engineering, and of course music, continue to support their former “musical home”, and even take the time to visit and reunite with fellow students and faculty, if they can when in town.

Proceeds from the gala benefit MYAC’s music education programs. These funds will allow MYAC to continue offering student scholarships to young musicians, as well as continue need-based financial assistance for its signature outreach program Young Music Scholars, ensuring that music education remains affordable to all.

MYAC expresses its deepest gratitude to Co-Chairs Sharon and Michael Mullins and Julia and John Randolph for making the event a success. Special thanks also goes out to Host Committee members Doris Xie and Derek Han, Tom and Nancy Sharp, Dale and Melinda Rudy (Northern Trust), and Richard and Leslie Korengold (Mesirow Financial).

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