Merit in Music” DOC10 Film Fest “Sweet Dillard” screening to benefit Merit School of Music, 3/30 at Music Box

Merit School of Music, Chicago’s largest community music school, and the Chicago Media Project are partnering to co-host Merit in Music, a unique, dinner-and-a-film fundraiser on opening night of the second annual DOC10 Film Festival.

The DOC10 festival, March 30-April 2, 2017, presents ten Chicago premieres of the best documentary films from 2016-17. One of the films, an extraordinary, music-themed documentary, was selected as the perfect pairing for a special night benefitting Merit School of Music.
Sweet Dillard, a 2016 release by Miami-based documentarian Jim Virga, chronicles the 2014 school year of South Florida’s Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble and their irrepressible band leader, Christopher Dorsey.
Since Merit School of Music helps young people transform their lives by removing barriers to high-quality music education, Sweet Dillard and its inspiring true story about the power of music education is an ideal fit. Click here for a short video trailer.
Merit in Music starts at 5:30 p.m. with a pre-screening dinner at Grassroots,
3747 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Jim Virga, director of Sweet Dillard, will be the special guest and a Merit student ensemble will perform live during this pre-screening event.
Following dinner, Sweet Dillard will be screened immediately next door at the Music Box Theater, 3733 N. Southport Avenue. At 7:30 p.m., Merit’s most accomplished student musicians will perform live, followed by the film and a Q&A with the director.

Tickets are $250 for the dinner and film; $15 for the screening only. For tickets and more information, visit or call (312) 676-3692. Run time is 55 minutes.

Proceeds from Merit in Music will benefit Merit School of Music, home to an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse community of talented young musicians from the greater Chicago-area who come together to broaden their horizons while building fulfilling lives through music.

“Merit School of Music is thrilled to partner with the Chicago Media Project. This partnership allows us to use the power of film to raise awareness of the great work Merit does to transform the lives of thousands of Chicago’s young people through high-quality music education,” said Jeffrey Breslow, volunteer chair of Merit in Music and owner of Jeffrey Breslow Gallery in Merit’s West Loop neighborhood.

In addition to Breslow, Merit in Music Host Committee members are Carla Agostinelli, West Loop Community Organization (WLCO); Marisa Buchheit, Merit Alum, Soprano; Huan (Tina) Chang, MD, Associate Professor in University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and her husband Robert (Bob) Stauffer, a partner at Jenner & Block (Chicago office); John Hill, Management and Tech Consultant; Robert Johannigman, Digital Factory; John Kalil, Tacklebox; Dr. Anthony King and Martha King, Private Dental Services; Lucy Minor, Merit Trustee; Amor Montes de Oca, 2112 inc.; Shelley Ochab, Merit Life Trustee and Chester Gougis, Cognitive Capital Partners; Jon Siskel, Siskel/Jacobs Productions; David Thomas, Merit Trustee and Bright Horizons; Malcolm Weems, Denton’s; Brien Wloch, T2 Investments; and John Young, Merit Trustee and Polsinelli.

About the Chicago Media Project/DOC10 Film Festival

Chicago Media Project presents the 2nd Annual DOC10 Film Festival March 30-April 2, 2017. Featuring Chicago premieres of 10 of the best documentaries of the current season, stimulating discussions and post-screening events, DOC10 is Chicago’s premiere documentary film festival and the ONLY film festival of its kind in the city.

In addition to the Merit School of Music screening of Sweet Dillard, other DOC10 selections include Whose Streets? – an urgent and enthralling chronicle of Ferguson, Missouri after the murder of Michael Brown, Jr.; Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary directed by critically acclaimed Chicago native John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon) and featuring the voice work of Denzel Washington; and Casting JonBenet, a sly and stylized exploration of the world’s most sensational child-murder case and possibly the year’s most original documentary. For more information and the full schedule please visit
Chicago Media Project (CMP) is a member-based non-profit organization that cultivates a community of documentary film lovers who believe in the power of media to bring about social change. CMP provides grant support and community outreach for documentaries with a social mission by employing a Community Model of Philanthropy where generous membership contributions combine to support films and media organizations making a real difference. For more information visit
About Merit School of Music

Merit School of Music is a nationally accredited music school helping young people transform their lives by removing barriers to high-quality music education.
Merit’s 125 passionate and experienced teaching artists engage nearly 5,000 students annually, in the school’s downtown location and in area schools and community centers, enabling Merit to serve as a springboard for students to achieve their full musical and personal potential.
Merit’s program consists of five core areas, which students may join at any stage, including: Early Childhood, Instrumental & Vocal Music, and Private Lessons. Merit’s programming continuum begins and concludes with two signature programs – its community-based Bridges: Partners in Music, an in-school music education program; and the audition-based Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory, which requires and represents the highest level of achievement.
Merit is devoted to providing students the opportunity to grow through music by removing barriers. Thanks to the support of Merit’s dedicated faculty, staff, board, donors and parents, 75 percent of its students receive financial support in the form of need-based tuition relief, low-cost instrument rental, and/or music supplies, so that motivated students may unlock their unique musical talent, regardless of economic circumstance.
Merit School of Music’s home is the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center, 38 S. Peoria St. in Chicago’s West Loop community. To learn more, visit or call
(312) 786-9428.