An Anniversary Celebration of Music and the Arts

Wednesday, May 5, 2021  6:00pm

An Anniversary Celebration of Music and the Arts

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
6:00 PM

Event Chairs Renée and Lester Crown and the Board of Trustees of WFMT and WTTW invite you to our virtual celebration honoring the 70th anniversary of WFMT.

By offering our community the finest arts and music programming, WFMT and WTTW enrich lives, engage communities, and inspire exploration.



Jim Mabie is an exemplary civic leader and advocate for the arts in Chicago. Our mission at WFMT and WTTW in service of our audiences is bolstered by Jim’s passion and advocacy. We are proud to honor him for his dedication to our work as well as to our city. Jim has been an extraordinary leader, serving on the Board of Trustees for 20 years and as Board Chair from 2014 to 2020. He is a champion for public media and fine arts programming with an affinity for WTTW News and a broad and eclectic appreciation for the classical and folk music presented on WFMT. His thoughtful leadership is rooted in a genuine interest, authentic curiosity, and deep commitment to our purpose. Jim’s wholehearted engagement benefits institutions throughout the city, strengthening the fabric of Chicago’s arts and cultural community. It is with gratitude and admiration that WFMT and WTTW celebrate Jim Mabie.

We are proud to honor The People's Music School (TPMS) for its commitment to music education, access, and our community. Founded in 1976 by the late Dr. Rita Simó, a Juilliard-trained pianist from the Dominican Republic, TPMS’s mission is to deliver access to the benefits of high-quality, immersive music education, regardless of someone’s socioeconomic background. Through intensive instruction and performance, students achieve excellence in music that transfers to the classroom and beyond. Students grow musically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually, and develop a foundation of responsibility, self-esteem, resilience, and purpose. Under the exemplary leadership of Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa, 1,600 under-resourced children across Chicago and beyond receive tuition-free music education annually. In Chicago alone, the school serves 850 students, of whom 90% are of color and hail from over 50 zip codes. One hundred percent of TPMS seniors graduate from high school and enroll in college. We celebrate TPMS for their unwavering commitment to and belief in the transformative power of music.

Featured Artists

A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Rhiannon Giddens co-founded the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and she has been nominated for six additional Grammys for her work as a soloist and collaborator. She was most recently nominated for her collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, there is no Other (2019). Her forthcoming album, They’re Calling Me Home, was recorded with Turrisi in Ireland. Giddens was named Artistic Director of Silkroad and is a member of the band Our Native Daughters. She wrote the music for an original ballet, Lucy Negro Redux, and the libretto and music for an original opera, Omar, based on the autobiography of the enslaved man Omar Ibn Said. Among her numerous television appearances, Rhiannon was featured in Ken Burns’s Country Music series, performed on Austin City Limits, and appeared on Amanpour & Co. and PBS NewsHour. Smithsonian Magazine calls her “an electrifying artist who brings alive the memories of forgotten predecessors, white and black.”

Rachel Barton Pine is an award-winning, chart-topping violinist who performs with the world's leading orchestras and has recorded 39 acclaimed albums. She has been featured in outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and her performances are heard on WFMT and stations around the globe. Among her many TV appearances, she has been featured on PBS NewsHour, and at just 10 years old, she performed Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso on WTTW’s Illinois Young Performers Competition, taking first place. Her RBP Foundation runs the Music by Black Composers project and assists young artists through its Instrument Loan Program, Grants for Education and Career, and Global HeartStrings, which supports musicians in developing countries.


Photo credit: Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Demarre McGill

Photo credit: Denver Rispel

Demarre McGill has gained international recognition as a soloist, recitalist, chamber and orchestral musician and currently serves as principal flute of the Seattle Symphony. Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, he has appeared as a soloist with many of the finest orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Grant Park Music Festival. Demarre is a dedicated educator, teaching as an Associate Professor of Flute at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is co-founder of The Art of Élan and the McGill/McHale Trio. He appeared on WTTW performing in the Illinois Young Performers Competition and on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as a teenager. A Chicago native, Demarre began his study of flute at age 7. After attending the Merit School of Music and participating in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, he went on to study with Susan Levitin, one of the leading flute pedagogues in the country.

WFMT commissioned Shawn E. Okpebholo to write Take It Easy, But Take It for its 70th anniversary in honor of Jim Mabie. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and pianist Matthew Hagle will perform the world premiere of this piece during our virtual gala on May 5. Okpebholo is Professor of Music Composition at Wheaton College-Conservatory of Music and a widely sought-after and dynamic composer. He is a laureate of numerous awards for his artistry, including the Academy of Arts and Letters Walter Hinrichsen Prize. His music has been performed on five continents and in over forty states. Regularly commissioned by noted soloists, chamber groups, and large ensembles, these artists have performed Okpebholo's works at some of the nation's most prestigious performance spaces, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He was recently awarded a two-year residency with the Chicago Opera Theater (2021-2023 seasons). He earned his masters and doctoral degrees in composition from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.


Maggie Clennon Reberg joined the WFMT family in 2015, and has served as the host of our Weekend Mornings programs, Saturday Morning Listeners’ Choice and Soundtrack, since 2018. You can also hear Maggie as announcer on weekday evenings. When she’s not on the air, Maggie performs as an actor and musician in Chicago and beyond, with companies such as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Music Theatre Works, Chamber Opera Chicago, Transgressive Theatre-Opera, Remy Bumppo, First Folio Theatre, and more. Maggie appeared in the 2014-15 National and Southeast Asia tours of the Broadway musical Sister Act, and is also a very busy voiceover talent.

Maggie Clennon Reberg

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Sponsors as of March 19, 2021

Sponsorship and Benefits

We hope you will join WFMT and WTTW for our virtual celebration! We welcome support from individuals, corporations, and foundations and are pleased to offer a number of unique ways to acknowledge your generous gift. Learn more about the levels of sponsorship and related benefits. Or, make a gift online now. Please contact the WFMT and WTTW Development Team at (773) 509-5579 or via email for more details.