- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - A famed soprano is being honored this week for mentoring young music students in the Chicago area.

The Merit School of Music plans to recognize Renee Fleming’s contributions during its 35th anniversary gala Thursday in Chicago. In her role as creative consultant at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Fleming helped establish programs between the school and the opera company.

The Merit School of Music offers music education to children, many of whom are from lower income areas. Many students attend lessons and classes tuition-free or on scholarship.

Thursday’s gala at the Palmer House Hilton will feature dancing and live music by Merit School ensembles. That includes the Carson Elementary Advanced Band from the city’s Gage Park neighborhood.

All proceeds from the $500-a-plate event go to the Merit School of Music.