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Chicago icon Chaz Ebert receives 5th Beethoven Spirit Award; plus new Aleksandra Jovanovic Award

CHICAGO, DECEMBER 9, 2019 – The Chicago-based International Beethoven Project (IBP) is pleased to announce that it has selected Chaz Ebert, iconic Chicagoan and CEO of Ebert Digital, LLC (publisher of, to receive its fifth Beethoven Spirit Award. The decision was made in recognition of Ms. Ebert’s long-standing commitment to promoting justice through the arts, highlighting important voices in film, supporting emerging talent, and being a model citizen of Chicago and of the world through her many personal and philanthropic engagements. Ms. Ebert is a humanist whose focus on using the arts to make the world better and more compassionate aligns with Beethoven’s spirit of courage, creativity, and compassion.


The award ceremony will take place on Monday, December 16th, 2019 from 4pm to 7pm on the 249th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday, as part of the International Beethoven Project’s annual Beethoven Birthday Bash (Dec. 13-16) FREE CONCERT FOR CHICAGO at Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, Chicago. The event, which also kicks off Beethoven’s 250th year, includes performances by IBP founder and pianist George Lepauw, composer Joel Styzens, singers Isaiah Robinson and Rashada Dawan, and pianist Greg Spero (and additional surprise appearances!). Mark Kelly, City of Chicago Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the laureate of the 4th Beethoven Spirit Award, will make introductory remarks. The event is free to attend, with seats available on a first-come-first-serve basis. 


The International Beethoven Project is also proud to introduce the first Aleksandra Jovanovic Music Teacher Award to Yana Reznik, piano virtuoso, cultural entrepreneur, and piano teacher at the New Music School of Chicago who transmits the passion exemplified by Beethoven and the love of teaching held by the late pianist and teacher Aleksandra Jovanovic. This award will be presented along with the new Aleksandra Jovanovic Student Showcase, which gives passionate, select music students the opportunity to perform in a professional environment. The Award and Showcase take place Sunday, Dec. 15th from 6-8pm at the Hairpin Arts Center, 2810 N Milwaukee, Chicago.  


The International Beethoven Project’s 10th annual Beethoven Birthday Bash, titled “Spirit”, celebrates Beethoven’s 249th birthday during four multidisciplinary days of events. Beginning Friday December 13th at the Hairpin Arts Center (2810 N Milwaukee) from 8pm to midnight, Saturday December 15th from 3pm to 1am and Sunday December 15th from 3pm to 8pm, the celebration concludes on Beethoven’s actual birthday, Monday December 16th, at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall from 4-7pm with a final “Concert for Chicago”, Beethoven Spirit Award ceremony, and kickoff to Beethoven’s big 250th Year. Passes range from FREE (Monday Dec. 16th) to categories at the $15-$20-$30 General Admission levels and $75-$150 for the VIP access levels. A 50% discount is available for current music and art school students with code lvb50.


For tickets, full schedule, and more information, visit

CHAZ EBERT, laureate of the 5th Beethoven Spirit Award, is CEO of Ebert Digital LLC, publisher of the movie review site  She also produces television and movies at Ebert Productions and Black Leopard Productions, and heads the Ebertfest Film Festival now in its 21st year in collaboration with the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The Golden Thumb and Ebert Humanitarian Awards are given at Ebertfest, and the Toronto and Chicago International Film Festivals to filmmakers who exhibit an unusually compassionate view of the world. She is president of the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and her civic interests include programs to help break the glass ceiling for women and people of color, to provide education and arts for women, children and families, with a global interest in encouraging empathy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. As a civil rights attorney, Ms. Ebert was named Lawyer of the Year by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Additionally, Ms. Ebert is a Life Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently serves on the boards of  the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation, the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), After School Matters, and the Honorary Board for Family Focus. Her professional affiliations include the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, the African-American Film Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association, and her philanthropic endeavors include providing grants to support films with strong social justice themes such as Strong Island, Homestretch, Radical Grace, Dream Catchers, They Call Us Monsters, Romeo is Bleeding and Raising Bertie. She also encourages and supports emerging writers, filmmakers, and technologists with her endowment of scholarships, internships or awards at the Sundance Film Festival, Film Independent Spirit Awards-Project Involve, the University of Illinois Ebert Fellowships, the Hawaii International Film Festival-Young Critics Program, the Telluride Ebert/TFF University Seminars, the Chicago International Film Festival- Ebert Director Awards, and the Columbia College Links Journalism Awards in conjunction with the Chicago Urban League. 


The Beethoven Spirit Award: Chaz Ebert is the 5th laureate of the Beethoven Spirit Award, following Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Zarin Mehta, former CEO of the New York Philharmonic, Otto von Habsburg, last crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and peace advocate, and Hervé de la Vauvre, former CEO of Griffith Laboratories and arts philanthropist. The Beethoven Spirit Award, established in 2011, is given on occasion to an accomplished person that has lived a life of humanistic action connected to the arts. In the spirit of Beethoven’s own beliefs in the creation of a better world through lasting and powerful creative initiatives, nominees are selected from a pool of highly accomplished persons who have used the arts and humanities as a platform to inspire and change the world. The Beethoven Spirit Award is a symbolic honor meant to highlight the important work of its winners, as a means to encourage and inspire similarly courageous, creative and compassionate action in others for the benefit of humanity.


Yana Reznik, winner of the first Aleksandra Jovanovic Music Teacher Award, is a pianist, teacher, speaker, entrepreneur, and cultural leader, whose passionate persona, performances and compelling storytelling have captivated the hearts of thousands. Known as the “Pianist with a Voice”, Yana breaks with tradition by creating innovative programs that bring the beauty of classical music to wider and more diverse audiences. Moscow-born Yana Reznik has performed with many symphony orchestras as piano soloist, in recital around the world, and on television and radio. Yana is on faculty at the New Music School of Chicago. To learn more, please visit


The Aleksandra Jovanovic Music Teacher Award was named after Aleksandra Jovanovic, a renowned pianist and piano teacher in Chicago until her sudden passing in 2016. Aleksandra Jovanovic epitomized the loving, supportive, and passionate musician and teacher, giving the love of music to many generations of children and adults. She also collaborated with IBP many times and supported the idea that classical music was for everybody, one of IBP’s key tenets. IBP wanted to honor her memory and encourage this attitude in music teachers who are often under-recognized for their deep commitment to the growth of their students and the communities they live and work in.


The International Beethoven Project (IBP), now in its 12th season, is a Chicago-based Not-for-Profit founded in 2008 by concert pianist and cultural activist George Lepauw, intended to celebrate Beethoven’s legacy and advance creativity, compassion and human “brotherhood” through the arts with a focus on bringing classical music to new generations through engagement with artists of all disciplines. IBP produces concerts, multi-disciplinary festivals, multimedia projects, and more. 


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